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BYU volleyball: No. 2 Cougars host USC, Pepperdine

By Rachel Hawks

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 26 2014 3:14 p.m. MST

No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball returns to the Smith Fieldhouse for the first time in a month, hosting No. 7 USC and No. 4 Pepperdine on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Both matches will be broadcast live on BYUtv and streamed on its website. Each match begins at 7 p.m. MST.

BYU (10-3, 10-1 MPSF) held on to its No. 2 ranking after a bye week. The Cougars reached second place after defeating then-No. 8 Stanford in a five-set thriller on the road on Feb. 15. BYU is No. 1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

The Cougars are led by Taylor Sander, who is now No. 3 at BYU for career kills during the rally-scoring era with 1,451. Sander averages 4.46 kills per set this season, good for No. 4 in the nation.

Michael Hatch is No. 3 in the country for blocks per set with 1.49. Leading on the back row is Jaylen Reyes with 1.69 digs per set.

USC’s back row is led by Henry Cassiday with 3.10 digs per set. Andy Benesh leads the nation in hitting percentage with a .518 clip, and Micah Christenson is No. 2 nationally in assists per set with 11.70.

The Trojans (9-5, 8-5 MPSF) will face Cal Baptist on Wednesday on the road. USC comes off two wins against Hawai’i at home.

The last time BYU met USC, the Cougars won 3-2 on the road on Feb. 1.

Pepperdine (8-3, 8-3 MPSF) is led by Josh Taylor with 4.46 kills per set, good for No. 3 in the nation. Nikola Antonijevic averages 1.43 blocks per set, good for No. 4 nationally.

The Waves will play at Cal Baptist on Thursday before traveling to Utah. Pepperdine hosted Cal Baptist on Saturday and defeated the Lancers, 3-1.

The last time BYU faced Pepperdine, the Waves pulled off the win in Malibu, Calif., 3-2 on Jan. 31.

Links to live stats and live streaming for both matches will be available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.

Rachel Hawks is the men's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.

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