Provo • Not that it would have changed the outcome of the thorough thrashing they received Saturday night at the hands of the BYU Cougars, but there was a point in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men’s volleyball quarterfinal that illustrated how poorly things went for the USC Trojans.
The visitors stopped playing in the third set when they saw a ball sail high into the rafters and toward the crowd of 2,447 at Smith Fieldhouse.
BYU 3, USC 0
» The Cougars hit .519 and demolish USC in an MPSF quarterfinal match in front of 2,447 at Smith Fieldhouse.
» Filling in for injured setter Tyler Heap, sophomore Robbie Sutton gets his first start and delivers a career-high 36 assists.
» BYU will host the MPSF semifinals on Thursday and will meet UCLA or UC Santa Barbara at 8 p.m.
But the ball caromed off a speaker just right and dropped straight down, allowing BYU’s Devin Young to send it back over the net. However, USC players were already huddled up, thinking they had just taken a 7-6 lead, and the ball landed at their feet.
BYU point; USC embarrassment.
The Cougars continued to roll from there and took an easy 25-13, 25-18, 25-17 win.
"I have never seen that before," marveled BYU senior All-America Taylor Sander, who had 13 kills and a .524 hitting percentage. "That was a huge point for us."
BYU coach Chris McGown said "there’s nothing like playing in the Fieldhouse" while summing up the win that ended his club’s four-match losing streak, but he could also have been talking about the strange play.
"Just a really weird quirk of the gym," McGown said.
So the No. 4-ranked Cougars (19-8), their moxie, confidence and swagger restored in a place where they have now won 24 straight matches, move on to the MPSF semifinals where they will host either UCLA or UC Santa Barbara on Thursday at 8 p.m. MDT.
"That was the best performance of the year for us," Sander said.
Indeed, the Cougars’ hitting percentage of .519 was their best of the season, and they committed just four hitting errors, a season-low, in the match that lasted just an hour and 23 minutes.
So dominating was BYU that the No. 8 Trojans (16-11) did not have a lead in a set until going ahead 2-1 in the third.
Making his first career start in the place of injured setter Tyler Heap (ankle), sophomore Robbie Sutton played the match of his life, registering career highs in kills, blocks and assists.
"I can’t take credit," Sutton said. "I am just the facilitator. Everybody else does the dirty work."
Sander served three straight aces midway through the second set, and finished with four. Josue Rivera also shined as much as his neon green shoes, recording 10 kills and six blocks. When he served, the crowd sang "Josue, Josue, Josue, Josue" like a soccer crowd often does (think: ole, ole, ole, ole) and the Puerto Rican sensation rewarded them with what McGown called one of his best performances of the year.
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