Junior Matt Underwood led No. 7 BYU men's volleyball to a four-set upset win (25-20, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19) at No. 2 USC on Friday night at the Galen Center.
"I thought we came out tonight with a really, really focused and energetic effort," BYU head coach Chris McGown said. "I felt like we were serving to score points tonight and that changed our mentality. The guys got really dialed into the game plan. I was proud of their effort."
Underwood led the Cougars with a season-high 14 kills and five digs to go along with six blocks. Jaylen Reyes added a 11 digs while Robbie Sutton dished out 34 assists and a team-high 13 digs. Michael Hatch ended the night with a team-high seven blocks. Jake Langlois added double-digit kills for the Cougars, leading the team with 15 while also contributing six blocks and six digs.
BYU (9-3, 8-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) jumped out to an early 3-1 advantage in the first set following an Underwood kill. USC (9-2, 8-2 MPSF) countered with three-straight points to go up 4-3. The teams stayed neck-and-neck with the two sides exchanging several points from the service line as the Cougars moved back ahead at 12-10. Joseph Grosh won a joust at the net to extend BYU's lead to four at 16-12, and a Trojan attack error kept the Cougars ahead, 20-16, forcing a USC timeout. BYU kept a comfortable lead for the remainder of the set, taking it 25-20 on a Trojan attack error.
USC got the first pair of points to begin the second set, but the Cougars scored the next four to go up 4-2. A 4-1 run, capped off by a Grosh kill, extended BYU's lead at 8-5 and forced the Trojans to take their first timeout of the set. Despite a 3-1 USC rally, the Cougars stayed ahead by five at 13-8 following a Langlois kill. After another Trojan timeout, USC went on a 5-2 run to come back within a pair at 15-13. A kill from Josue Rivera kept his BYU squad in the lead, 20-16, before McGown took a timeout at 22-18 after a pair of Trojan points. The Cougars won the set 25-19 after a triple block and USC attack error.
The third set began much like the second as the Trojans scored the first three points en route to a 6-1 advantage, forcing a BYU timeout. USC led by as many as seven at 9-2 before a mini 4-2 rally put the Cougars back within reach at 11-6. A Rivera kill capped off a 4-1 BYU run that got the Cougars within three down 13-10 as the Trojans took their first timeout of the set. An Underwood kill kept BYU within three down 16-13, but a trio of USC points put it back up by six at 20-14. The Cougars battled back to tie the set at 23-all following a 7-1 rally, but the Trojans scored the next two points to take the set 25-23 and force a fourth.
USC took an early 6-3 lead in the fourth set after three-straight BYU attack errors. The two teams traded points from there until a trio of consecutive BYU points, led by a Rivera ace, put the Cougars up by one at 8-7. BYU went up by three at 12-9 before the Trojans scored the next four to take a 13-12 advantage, forcing a Cougar timeout. Two service aces from Langlois helped propel BYU to four-straight points after the break and put it back up 16-13, this time forcing a USC timeout. With the Cougars up by their largest lead at 22-15, BYU withstood a late Trojan rally to take the set 25-19 on a Langlois kill.
BYU returns home to the Smith Fieldhouse next Friday at 7 p.m. MST, when it faces off against Long Beach State. The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv and simulcast on BYU Radio. Links to live stats and a 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.