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BYU volleyball: No. 4 Cougars take care of No. 7 Trojans

PROVO — Proving once again that they own Friday nights in Provo, the No. 4 BYU men's volleyball team took down No. 7 USC 3-1 (33-31, 35-37, 33-31, 30-21) in front of a boisterous crowd at the Smith Fieldhouse.

The victory was the fourth Friday night home win for the Cougars in four tries so far this season.

"I thought we played really well," BYU coach Shawn Patchell said. "We played with a lot of heart and good energy. We gave up some runs at the end of sets two and three that I wasn't pleased with, but for the most part, we had a great team win."

The Cougars (13-7, 9-6) struggled to hold a lead all night, squandering a 29-25 lead en route to a 37-35 second-set loss, then taking a 24-19 lead before pulling out a 33-31 win in the third set. The team responded in the fourth set, though, and cruised to an easy 30-21 win.

"Losing the second game was tough for us tonight," senior libero Joel Silva said. "That should never happen to us. Then the same thing happened the third game, but I think we learned from what happened before and were able to push through it. We got the momentum back and had it the rest of the match."

Andrew Stewart led the Cougars with 27 kills, the most by a BYU player since Ivan Perez had 26 against Long Beach in 2008 and the most in a four-set game since Mike Wall had 30 against Pacific in 2002. Stewart also added nine digs and six block assists.

Also making an impact for the Cougars was Kent Tuttle, who has struggled with an ankle injury much of this season. The senior opposite replaced the struggling Robb Stowell midway through the first set and instantly energized the Cougars. Tuttle had six kills and three digs in the first set and finished the game with a season-high 20 kills.

"I'm not surprised by how Kent played," Patchell said. "He's a great athlete ... and we have a lot of faith in him. I try to get him in during each set, but tonight he got to play more and you saw what happened. We have a deep team and a team like this can go a long way."

Silva led the team with 19 digs, and middle blocker Russell Lavaja added 10 kills, six block assists and a team-high four aces.

USC (10-8, 8-7) was led by Murphy Troy, who had 17 kills to go along with a team-high 12 digs. Tony Ciarelli and Maddison McKibbon added 16 an 14 kills, respectively, for a Trojan team that returned six starters after making it to the NCAA championship game last season.

The two teams will play again tonight at 7 p.m. MST at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo.