No. 8 USC Men's Volleyball Outlasts No. 6 BYU In MPSF Tourney Quarterfinals|
April 25, 2015
Alex Slaught had a match-high 21 kills to lead the No. 8-ranked USC men's volleyball team to a 25-17, 20-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-13 hard-fought win over No. 6 BYU in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament quarterfinal match on Saturday (April 25) in front of 2,000 fans at USC's Galen Center.
The victory was No. 150 for ninth-year USC head coach Bill Ferguson.
USC, the tourney's No. 4 seed, improved to 19-8 on the year. The Trojans have won 8 of their last 9 matches and 10 of their past 13. USC is now 8-2 in 5-set matches this year, including a pair of such victories over BYU (it is a school record for 5-set wins in a season).
Troy advances to an MPSF semifinal match in Irvine at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday (April 30) against No. 2 UC Irvine, the tourney's top seed that swept No. 12 UCLA in another quarterfinal match. No. 5 Pepperdine will face the winner of the Hawaii-Long Beach State quarterfinal in Thursday's other semi. The MPSF tourney final is on Friday (May 1) in Irvine.
BYU, the tourney's fifth seed, fell to 17-10 overall. The Cougars, who knocked USC out of last year's MPSF quarters, had split a pair of matches against the Trojans earlier this season.
Neither team hit well in the match, as USC was at .231 and BYU at .196. But both squads blocked (13.5 blocks for USC and 11.0 for BYU) and dug (65 digs for BYU, 63 for USC) well.
Freshman Larry Tuileta added 18 kills and 15 digs (both career highs) for USC, while Cristian Rivera had 14 kills (hitting .407), Micah Christenson had 13 digs, 4 blocks and 2 aces and Andy Benesh had a career-best 9 blocks.
For BYU, Matt Underwood had 18 kills (hitting .357) and 7 digs, Brenden Sander had 15 kills and 3 aces, Jaylen Reyes had 17 digs, Robbie Sutton had 10 digs and 6 blocks and Michael Hatch had 9 blocks.
USC jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead in the first set and never looked back while hitting .375 to BYU's .162 (Troy also served 2 aces). BYU turned the tide in the second set, using an early 3-0 run to go up 5-3 and steadily pulled away behind 11 digs. In the third set, USC scored 5 consecutive points to go up 7-2 before BYU closed to 10-8, but the Trojans soon built the lead to 6 points and held off the charging Cougars (USC posted 3.5 blocks). USC scored the first 5 points of the fourth set and held off the Cougars most of the way, but with Troy up 22-18 BYU tallied 6 straight points to get all the edge it needed to close out the set while getting 8.0 blocks. The fifth set was tight throughout until, at 11-11, USC went on a 3-0 run to get all the cushion it needed to close out the match while hitting .370.