No. 8 BYU defends home court with win over No. 14 USC
PROVO, Utah – No. 8 BYU men’s volleyball defeated No. 14 University of Southern California (28-26, 25-22, 25-23, 25-13) in a four-set battle Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse.
"We were able to make good touches at the net and that helped us tonight," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "We haven't gotten the touches that we've been accustomed to in the past and that is something that we've focused on in practice continually. We slowed things down and we were in a little better position to go attack."
The Cougars fell just one kill short of their season high in kills with 60, doing so one in one less set than they did at Penn State on Jan. 18. Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the Cougars with 25 kills, giving him his sixth consecutive match in doubles digits, and also contributed seven digs. Freshman Davide Gardini recorded a career-high 20 kills in the match, hitting at .452 clip. Wil Stanley led all players in digs and assists, with nine and 52, respectively. Miki Jauhiainen had a season-high six total blocks in the contest.
The Cougars (6-4, 2-2 MPSF) remained even with the Trojans (7-6, 1-2 MPSF) early, going point for point in the first set until USC took the first two-point lead, 10-8. Kills by Garcia Fernandez and Jauhiainen aided BYU in taking the lead back, 22-21. Trading points back and forth, the Cougars and Trojans were tied 26-26 and USC took the first set, 28-26, off two Cougar attack errors.
Garcia Fernandez collected his 10th kill of the match early in set two to help bring the Cougars to a 7-5 lead over the Trojans. BYU remained ahead despite battling back-and-forth once again with USC, until the Trojans brought it to a 16-16 tie. A combined block by Gardini and Jauhiainen gave the Cougars a 23-21 lead. BYU took set two, 25-22, off a Trojan attack error.
A block by USC brought about an early 6-4 Trojan lead in set three. The Cougars came back to take the lead, 13-12, with a 4-0 run on kills from Garcia Fernandez and Jauhiainen. The Trojans responded and claimed the lead once again, 19-17. BYU quickly recovered when Alex Ah Sue gave the lead back to the Cougars at 20-19 by landing an ace. A comeback pass and block from BYU brought energy and accelerated the Cougars to a 25-23 set three win.
Using the momentum from the previous set, BYU took an early 6-3 lead in set four. Back-to-back kills by Garcia Fernandez gave the Cougars a five-point lead, 10-5. A 5-1 run by BYU extended the lead to 15-8 and the Cougars kept pushing forward as Garcia Fernandez landed a powerful ace, bringing the score to 18-11. The Cougars made it to a 24-13 match point on a 7-1 run against the Trojans. A kill from Garcia Fernandez sealed the match win at 25-13.
The Cougars remain home to take on Grand Canyon on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. MST. The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv and live stats will be available on the men’s volleyball schedule page.