BYU men’s volleyball defeated No. 14 University of Southern California in four sets to one at home Feb. 16 after a rough string of road losses.
This was the Cougars’ second win of this week as they defeated Concordia Feb. 14. While the Cougars are undefeated at home with a 4-0 record, their success on the road has been hard to come by, winning only one of the five away games. Four of those five games came against opponents ranked in the top 10.
While the road has not been kind to the Cougars, the home victories against Concordia and USC are the result of coaching adjustments by head coach Shawn Olmstead after the road losses.
“We were able to make good touches at the net and that helped us tonight,” 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 first set of the match saw the teams tied at 26-26, with USC pulling ahead to win the set 28-26.
Despite USC’s success in the first set, the team was unable to resecure its offensive footing in the later sets with the Trojans’ leading scorer Jack Wyett held to 16 kills. The Cougars held USC offensive staples Ryan Moss and Gianluca Grasso to 13 kills.
The Trojans’ success early in the match proved to be futile and the Cougars pulled ahead in the second and third sets, winning 25-22 and 25-23.
The Cougars ended the match with an exclamation point, with sophomore Gabi Garcia Fernandez scoring a kill to win the fourth and final set in domination fashion, 25-13.
Garcia Fernandez once again led the charge for the Cougars, putting on a well-rounded performance. The outside hitter proved he was more than just an offensive machine, scoring 25 kills, but a defensive staple as well, with seven digs.
Freshman Davide Gardini also had an impressive showing with 20 kills of his own. While scoring fewer kills than Garcia Fernandez, Gardini more consistently found holes in the Trojan defense. The outside hitter ended the set with a 45 percent success rate in kills.
Junior Wil Stanley led the team in digs, ending the set with nine. The setter from Hawaii had 52 assists, proving to be an indispensable asset to the Cougar offense.