BYU wins explosive match against Pepperdine in five-set battle

Snow and ice dotted the streets and cars outside, but pure heat could be felt in the Smith Fieldhouse between No. 8 BYU and No. 9 Pepperdine during Friday night’s men’s volleyball match.

Set 1

Despite an explosive win from BYU in set five, the Cougars began the match sluggish and slow, with preventable errors speckling the first set.

Pepperdine was quickly up 5-1 after errors from the Cougars, forcing BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead to call his first time out early in the match.

Hughes became a viable asset quickly in the match, with countless assists and three digs early in set one. The score would tie for the first time at 10-10 after an explosive block in the middle from junior Gavin Julien.

BYU would call their second time out at 13-18, and a service error from the Cougars would end the set in Pepperdine’s favor at 22-25. BYU’s errors, mixed with an immediately explosive offense from Pepperdine-a .357 compared to BYU’s .148-ultimately sealed the fate of the first set.

Coach Olmstead recognized the lack of consistency from the Cougars in set one. “We were just hurting ourselves,” Olmstead said. “It comes down to limiting our errors. Play hard and play aggressively… [however] we were hurting ourselves too much earlier in the night.”

Set 2

Set two would mirror the beginning of set one as Pepperdine would call their first time out at 5-1 BYU. The crowd was given play after play to cheer for after repeated kills from Julien, Moser, and Ramanis, all while Hughes ran countless assists and a tight defense in right back.

The first tie of the set came at 11-11, but would not give Pepperdine any chance for a lead. BYU was up 23-20 when Pepperdine called their second time out, and BYU soon called one of their own when the score hit 23-22.

A hitting error from the Wolves would end set two 25-22 for BYU, and the stretched competition between the two teams was just beginning.

Set 3

Despite a strong offensive start for the Cougars in set three, Pepperdine took their second set of the night. Their win of set three belonged to their one man show- outside hitter Jaylen Jasper.

Jasper had three of Pepperdine’s first four points with two consecutive kills and a block on the right side.

The score hit 9-14 Pepperdine up as BYU continued to struggle to return any hits from Jasper, who had a career-record of 37 kills on the night, hitting a .443.

Even out of system sets could not deter Jasper, who put one away at 11-16, forcing BYU to call their second time-out.

Another three consecutive kills from Jasper gave Pepperdine a three-point run at 12-19, showing that the Wolves’ offense had an obvious-and valid- favorite hitter to set. Set three would end at 25-19, outing the Wolves up 2-1 against BYU.

Set 4

The Cougars would once again regain their stamina and grab another win in the fourth set. Browne replaced Moser in this set, and brought both a rejuvenated energy and offense to the boys in blue.

Browne had his first kill early in the set, followed by kills from Julien, Ramanis, and Benson, who hit a .667, .361 and .268 for the night, respectively.

Benson secured another kill off of the block at 23-19, BYU up, and the set would go to the Cougars after he drilled another kill to into the Wolves’ court.

Set 5

Jasper secured the first point of set five for Pepperdine, as he once again seemed to jump above the net with every attempted kill. Ramanis secured the next point with a kill of his own, and the battle was on.

The teams went back-to-back with effective offensive plays, including BYU kills from Taylor, Ramanis, and Browne.

BYU called a time out at 7-8 with Pepperdine up, and Pepperdine would follow suit with their own time out when BYU got up 12-8.

BYU would be the first to make it to match point after Browne secured his sixth kill of the night, Putting BYU up 14-11. Pepperdine then took one more time out to try to ice their opponents.

However, John Stanley would sub in to serve and end the match with an ace, sending himself, his teammates, and all in attendance into a fit of cheers and celebration.

After the match ended and the thousands of Cougars fans had filed out, Benson acknowledged the adrenaline that his team build by the fifth set. “We had a fire burning within us. We wanted to win every point, we would do whatever it took to win each point,” Benson said. “It helped us get the edge over Pepperdine. The difference from the first set to the fifth set? We just really wanted it.”

The Cougars will need to reignite this want again as they battle the Wolves for the second time Saturday night in the Fieldhouse at 7.

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