The Cougar volleyball team had a close call against the USC Trojans in a five-set match (16-25, 25-22, 15-25, 25-20, 15-10) that led to victory Saturday night in Los Angeles.
“It was a strange match, rhythmically,” said BYU head coach Chris McGown. “We alternated playing very well and very poorly.”
Josue Rivera led the Cougars with a season-high 15 kills in the 3-2 match.
The fifth set was a point-by-point match until a kill by Carson Heninger and blocks by Devin Young and Josue Rivera gave the Cougars an 8-3 lead. USC caught up with kills by Robert Feathers and Andy Benesh, and BYU retaliated with kills of its own by Heninger and Taylor Sander to bring the score to 10-7. Another two kills by Sander and a kill by Michael Hatch brought the Cougars their win at 15-10.
“I thought we finally got a handle on the game plan and started executing that a little bit better towards the end of the match,” McGown said.
The Cougars fell behind in the first set after several kills by USC gave them a three-point lead at 6-3. Service errors and limited blocking by BYU increased the Trojans’ lead along with an incredible 17 kills during the set. A kill by Micah Christensen finished the set at 16-25.
BYU took the lead in the second set with two kills by Young at 4-2. USC kept pace until a kill by Heninger and Sander each, along with a block by Tyler Heap and Joe Grosh, gave the Cougars a 15-11 lead. Heninger completed the set with a block at 25-22.
The Cougars fell behind in the third set because of huge kills by USC. The Trojans had a big lead at 16-8 and continued until the set point. A service ace by Rivera gave the Trojans their win at 25-15.
The Cougars overcame a 5-1 deficit in the fourth set after kills by Sander, Hatch and Rivera. A service ace by Heninger tied the teams at 10. BYU kept momentum with more kills by Sander, Heninger and Young to bring them up 21-18. Service errors by USC and a block by Hatch and Heninger gave the Cougars the set at 25-20.
BYU plays Cal Baptist Monday at 7 p.m. PST before returning home.
“Cal Baptist is a good team,” McGown said. “We’re going to play hard, and we’re going to have to play clean to win.”