BYU volleyball splits back-to-back matches on first road trip of the season

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The BYU men’s volleyball team defeated the USC Trojans Saturday night in four sets a day after falling to the Pepperdine Waves in five sets.

The Cougars came out flat on Friday against Pepperdine, dropping the first set 13–25. They fell short in the second game losing 22–25. It was the first time this season the Cougars have faced a 0–2 hole in a match.

Ben Patch and Devin Young block UCLA’s Gonzalo Quiroga in last week’s match against the Briuins. The Cougars stand at 9–3 after this weekend’s matches. (Photo by Elliott Miller)

“(Pepperdine) made it difficult to get anything going offensively and they put a lot of pressure on us on the service line,” BYU coach Chris McGown said in a press release. “I thought that was the biggest factor.”

BYU proved resilient in the third and fourth sets winning 25–23 and 25–22 and forcing a fifth set. The Cougars couldn’t get the job done in the final set and dropped their first road game of the season.

“We didn’t play as clean in the fifth set but I was proud to see our team fight,” McGown said. “There were some really good things that happened but we always learn from our losses.”

Opposite hitter Ben Patch led the way for BYU with 16 kills and six blocks, while outside hitter Taylor Sander and middle blocker Russ Lavaja contributed 11 and 10 kills.

Pepperdine improved to 7–4 on the season, including a 5–0 record at home. The Cougars three losses have all come in down to the fifth set. They are 1–3 in five-set matches this season.

BYU made sure its next match didn’t get to a fifth set.

The Cougars rebounded on Saturday night, defeating USC (3–6) three sets to one. Sander led the way with 23 kills while Lavaja chipped in 11 kills.

“Before the match we talked about how it would be easy to come out and play emotionally flat after the tough loss on the road,” McGown said. “The guys found a different level though tonight. This was more about being scrappy and playing hard every single point than it was anything else. I was impressed with them.”

BYU and USC split the first two sets. The Cougars escaped the third set 25–22 before ending the match with a 25–18 hammer.

The Cougars improved to 9–3 on the season and 8–2 in conference play. Sander has now recorded double-digit kills in all 12 matches this season.

The Cougars return home this week and host Pacific and Stanford.

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