No. 7 BYU men's volleyball fell, 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-16, 25-23, 16-14), to No. 2 USC at the Galen Center on Thursday night in a battle for sole possession of first place in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play.
"We gave everything we had tonight," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "Unfortunately, things didn't go our way there at the end. USC is always a tough place to play. We look forward to another highly competitive matchup tomorrow night where we can hopefully come out with a split in the series."
Jake Langlois led the Cougars with a career-high 23 kills, eight digs and a career-high eight blocks. Josue Rivera added double-digit kills with 11 and five blocks. Robbie Sutton contributed 28 assists, while Michael Hatch added a team-high nine blocks, including two solo.
The Trojans (9-1, 8-1 MPFS) ended the match with an 11-0 service ace advantage, while the Cougars (8-3, 7-2 MPSF) finished with a 20.5-5.0 block advantage.
Phil Fuchs got a kill to start the decisive fifth set for BYU against USC. The teams traded points from there as the score was tied until a Trojan service ace put them up 7-5 near the midway point of the set. Another BYU block put the Cougars back up in the set, 10-9, forcing a USC timeout. The Trojans countered with a trio of points to retake the lead at 12-10, as BYU took a timeout. With the score knotted up at 13-apiece, USC got a point from an attack error. The Cougars staved off match point until another attack error ended the set and match 16-14 for the Trojans.
BYU got the first point of the first set after a Rivera kill ended a lengthy rally against USC. The two teams traded points from there until a Trojan attack error gave the Cougars a three-point advantage at 6-3. USC stayed in the match as consecutive service aces tied the score at 9-9, forcing McGown to take his first timeout. The score went back and forth until a pair of blocks from Langlois and Hatch put BYU back up by three at 16-13. After a Trojan timeout, USC scored four-consecutive points to take its first lead of the set, 17-16. The Cougars quickly countered with a 6-1 run, capped off by a Rivera kill, to get a four-point set lead at 22-18. A Langlois kill then closed out the set for BYU, 25-20.
The Cougars jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second set after a Rivera and Joseph Grosh block. BYU extended its lead at 8-4 following a Langlois kill, forcing the Trojans' first timeout. A trio of errant USC attack errors kept the Cougars in front, 14-7, as the Trojans took their final timeout of the set. An ace from USC's Robert Feathers then capped off a 4-1 Trojan run, which cut BYU's lead to four at 17-13, forcing its first timeout of the set. The Cougars kept their lead, however, ending the set 25-21 on a Langlois and Hatch block.
A Rivera block started BYU with the first point of the third set, but USC quickly countered with four-straight points to go up 4-1. The Cougars fought back, but the Trojans remained ahead at 11-6 after another kill, forcing McGown to take his final timeout of the set. After USC led by as many as six at 17-11, BYU went on a 3-1 rally of its own, finished by a kill from Hatch, to cut the lead to four at 18-14. The run proved too little too late as the Trojans took the set 25-16.
Rivera's kill ended a 3-0 run as USC started the fourth set ahead 6-1. The Cougars stayed in the set, down just three at 12-9, and a 4-1 run then forced a Trojan timeout with BYU trailing by just one at 13-12. The Cougars took their first lead of the set at 14-13 from another Hatch block. The score was then tied from points 15 to 22 as a hard kill from Fuchs kept the set tied late at 22-22. BYU fended off one set point until USC took it, 25-23, from a kill, sending the match to a decisive fifth set.
The Cougars return to the Galen Center on Friday at 7 p.m. PST, to face off against the Trojans for a rematch. The match will be streamed live on the Pac-12 website. Links to live stats and the video feed can be found on the BYU men's volleyball schedule page.
Royce Hinton is the men's and women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.