BYU earned another fifth-set victory Friday evening, toppling No. 7 Pepperdine at the Smith Fieldhouse in the Provo school’s first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contest in nearly three weeks.
The No. 8-ranked Cougars got the win with set scores of 21-25, 25-22, 19-25, 25-20, 15-11.
“Credit to the guys for staying in it,” BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said after his team’s fourth fifth-set win of the year. “The fifth set is going to be back and forth. And it’s going to be a play here or there. And then someone’s going to get another play here or there and then it’s over. So I couldn’t tell you that we’ve got this magic potion.”
It took a special night to beat Pepperdine. The Waves came into Friday’s contest winners of their last four matches, having dropped just one set during that span. Pepperdine entered the weekend in control of the third spot in the MPSF standings with BYU in fourth.
On Friday, the Waves started out in control, never trailing in the first set. The Cougars hardly threatened their visitors, knotting things at 10 before all but disappearing. Pepperdine stayed just out of reach the rest of the way to earn the win. The victory saw the California school keep BYU off the service line, posting 81% on sideout opportunities.
“I don’t know how we were so flat and just out of it,” Olmstead said. “I told the guys, ‘If you want to pack it up, let’s pack it up and let’s get out of here.’ … But they obviously didn’t want to.”
BYU took an early lead in the second set before a Pepperdine 6-0 run put the Waves up by one midway through the game. The Cougars responded by scoring twice in a row to go ahead 13-12. From there, the two teams traded points until BYU broke the trend and took a 21-19 advantage on a Jon Stanley service ace. That was enough to keep BYU out front and ultimately tie the match at one set apiece.
The Cougars dropped set three, never recovering from Pepperdine’s 7-0 run near its beginning. BYU would trail the rest of the game, not coming closer than three points as the Waves regained a one set advantage.
“I think at the start of the match, we came out pretty flat,” Cougars’ sophomore outside hitter Luke Benson said. “We felt that we needed a lot of energy.”
In the fourth set, BYU’s energy slowly grew in tandem with its lead, getting the margin to as many as five points down the stretch. Benson helped bring things home for the Cougars, securing three of his team’s final four kills to send the match to a deciding set.
“In the fifth set … it was like we had a fire burning under us,” Benson said. “We were willing to do whatever it takes to win the point. … The difference from the first set to the fifth set was just that fire, really wanting it.”
After falling down 7-8 in the final set, that fire began to show. The Cougars scored the next five points leaving Pepperdine in their wake. Stanley completed the match with his second service ace of the night, causing an already raucous crowd of 4,156 to erupt.
“I think we all knew he was going to get an ace,” Benson said. “We all love Jon. He’s amazing.”
In the losing effort, Pepperdine senior outside hitter Jaylen Jasper had a season high in kills with 37. The loss keeps the Waves winless in Provo since 2016.
Jasper and Pepperdine will get a second crack at BYU tomorrow evening at the Smith Fieldhouse after Friday’s result snapped the Cougars two match losing streak to the Waves. BYU and Pepperdine are scheduled to begin play at 7 p.m.