Going in the the first round of the MPSF tournament, BYU had lost four in a row, the first time since 2007, and their starting setter had a sprained ankle. The Cougars had looked shaky and nobody knew for sure what to expect Saturday night as they hosted the USC Trojans. However, after a 5-0 start in the first set, anybody watching could tell, the Cougars were ready to bring it.
Robbie Sutton hadn't started a game all season, only playing in 19 sets all season, but he started in place of the injured Tyler Heap and directed the Cougars to an early lead and never looked back. BYU rolled to a 25-13 first set win. In the second set BYU continued to hold the edge, but USC fought back and started to look like they might make it a close match. Continued aggression from the Cougars service line, in combination with great blocking, helped BYU take the second 25-18
After the break, USC came back almost a different team and got their first lead of the match at 2-1. But BYU didn't let that last long as they kept pushing the tempo with great serving and solid sets from Sutton. Both teams played with intensity as several long rallies went back and forth with big hustle plays. USC ended the night with 27 digs, showing their effort to keep themselves in the match. Despite the great effort from USC, they couldn't over come the intensity and home court advantage of the Cougars as the Trojans fell in the final set 25-17.
Robbie Sutton played a great game and set up his hitters for great nights, with three of them getting 10+ kills and hitting above .500 (Sander, Dobbert, and Rivera). Rivera also came up big defensively with six blocks, tying middle blocker Michael Hatch. BYU played what may have been their cleanest, most efficient game of the year with strong blocking, great setting, and hard serving the whole game long. USC kept waiting for the Cougars to cool down a bit, but it never happened and BYU got the quarter final win in a quick 3-0 match.
BYU will play UC Santa Barbra next Thursday in a semifinal match. UCSB was one of the tougher opponents for BYU this year, beating BYU in Santa Barbra a week ago, and taking the Cougars to five sets in Provo last month. The Gauchos are the only conference team to win two sets in Provo this year and will give BYU some stiff competition in the semifinal.