BYU downs USC to earn Final Four berth

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    By AARON MANGUM

    The BYU men’s volleyball team is heading to the NCAA Final Four after defeating the University of Southern California Trojans 3-1, in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship match Saturday night.

    The USC team fought hard early and won the first game 16-14 in a grueling 45 minute battle. The Cougars regrouped and took game two easily 15-9 by controlling the middle of the net.

    The Trojans did not give up in the third or fourth games, pushing BYU to the limit, despite the scores of 15-8 and 15-11.

    Brook Billings, USC’s outside hitter and the MPSF Freshman of the Year, said, “The crowd was really big. That was the biggest crowd we faced all year, not size — wise, but they were a lot

    closer.”

    When USC head coach Pat Powers was asked about his team’s chance of getting the at-large berth to the Final Four, he said, “I honestly believe we’re the second best team in the nation right now, but Long Beach has a

    better record.”

    In response to his perspective on a BYU and Long Beach State rematch, Powers said, “I would figure that BYU would have the mental advantage going into that match.”

    Carl McGown, BYU head coach, was very complimentary

    of his opponent, saying, “That’s a nice team USC, they played very well tonight. That’s just a real good team and a real good volleyball match.” McGown continued, “There

    aren’t any more easy matches, there are just battles.”

    McGown had a similar opinion about the at-large berth as Powers saying, “I’d be stunned if it’s not Long Beach State.”

    Ryan Millar, BYU’s middle blocker, said, “It’s a dream come true” speaking of winning the conference championship and heading to the Final Four.

    “Hopefully we can get two more victories in our pocket and come home with the title” said Millar.

    Before the match, Millar was sick with flu like symptoms and could hardly walk. Following the game he said, “right now I feel like a million dollars. Volleyball’s really good therapy.”

    Millar said he “would be very surprised if we don’t have the home crowd at UCLA”, the site of this year’s Final Four.

    McGown said that officials at UCLA have been contacting LDS Stake Presidents so that the arena

    will be full.

    The top-ranked Cougars will play Thursday May 6 at Pauley Pavilion on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles, Calif. The championship match will be held Saturday May 8.

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