No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball swept unranked USC (25-18, 25-15, 22-19) on Saturday, Feb. 22. BYU has now moved to a perfect 15-0 overall.
Despite USC’s record, BYU still prepared for this game as they would any other. “USC is a good team,” sophomore Davide Gardini said. “They don’t have a very good record, so some people can overlook that. We tried not to do that.”
USC earned the first point of set one, but a kill by Miki Jauhiainen earned the Cougars their first point. A USC service error made the score 2-2, and the Cougars had three consecutive blocks, with Gardini, Branden Oberender and Gabi Garcia Fernandez all contributing. Following a USC service error, Gardini had a back-row attack that put the Cougars up 10-7. Jauhiainen then had a kill that put BYU on top 13-7 a few plays later. After trading possessions, a USC kill made the score 18-12. Consecutive kills by Zach Eschenberg, Fernandez and Jauhiainen put the Cougars up 23-17. A USC service error won the set for BYU.
BYU won the first point of set two off a setter dump by Wil Stanley followed by a back-row attack by Gardini. An ace by Eschenberg and a block by Fernandez and Oberender put the Cougars up 6-5. Oberender then had two kills that earned BYU two points, which were followed by a four-point BYU streak with a Fernandez kill, a block by Fernandez and Jauhiainen, then a USC hitting error to lead the game 14-11. BYU held the possession with a kill by Eschenberg to make the score 18-11. A USC blocking error handed BYU a point at 22-13, and Alex Ah Sue won the set with an ace 25-15.
Set three started with BYU points from a block by Jauhiainen and a back-row attack by Gardini, putting the Cougars up 2-0. BYU took a 5-3 lead after a net challenge won by coach Shawn Olmstead. After trading possessions, a Gardini ace put the Cougars up 8-5. BYU featured their team’s depth by bringing in Teilon-Jonathan Tufuga and Ah Sue who contributed kills making the 11-7. Ah Sue had another kill after his roll shot came off the USC block. After forfeiting a few points, Oberender won back possession by a kill that brought the score 16-13. Ah Sue had a kill and then an ace that led BYU to a score of 23-19. Gardini’s kill earned BYU the match, with the final score being 25-19.
After the win, Olmstead said he was pleased they could bring in other players such as Oberender since Felipe de Brito Ferreira is out due to an injury.
“It’s nice to have depth in moments like these,” he said. “B.O. (Brandon Oberender) can be offensive as any other middle around.”
BYU will host No. 12 Stanford on Feb. 29 before taking on undefeated No. 1 Hawaii on the road.