Mike Terry, Deseret News
Robb Stowell as the BYU Men's Volleyball Team practice at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo on Wednesday, April 20, 2011.

PROVO — The BYU men's volleyball team is a big deal down in Provo most years. Fans regularly sell out the Smith Fieldhouse — providing a raucous venue for opposing teams.

Tonight they play their home-opener against fifth-ranked USC before squaring off against them again on Saturday night with attendance likely to be standing-room only.

BYU will come into the match with a lot of momentum having knocked off then No. 1-ranked UC-Irvine on consecutive nights. That No. 1 rank now belongs to the 4-1 Cougars and they'll work to prove worthy of that ranking starting tonight against the 3-0 Trojans.

The Cougars are led by 6-4 sophomore Taylor Sander, who leads the team with 94 kills. It's a team that features a lot of good experience from a season ago including Sander, 6-7 senior Robb Stowell (50 kills) and 6-7 junior Russ Lavaja (28 kills) along with some exciting new freshmen such as the 6-3 Josue Rivera (46 kills).

The Cougars reached the national quarterfinals a year ago before being knocked out by UC-Santa Barbara. With a lot of the leading players returning from a year ago along and with their early No. 1 national ranking, the Cougars are looking to win their first national championship since 2004.


No. 5 USC (3-0) at No. 1 BYU (4-1)

Tonight, 7 p.m. MT

Smith Fieldhouse