Weekend Preview: Four top-five teams to meet in MPSF semifinals
PROVO, Utah -- After a home sweep Saturday in the quarterfinals, No. 1 seed BYU returns to the Smith Fieldhouse to host the semifinals and final of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
The Cougars will face No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara on Thursday at 10 p.m. ET following No. 2 seed Pepperdine vs. No. 3 seed Stanford at 7 p.m. ET.
BYU (19-8, 18-6 MPSF) comes off a convincing 3-0 win against No. 8 seed Southern California on Saturday, led by MPSF player of the year Taylor Sander’s 13 kills. Setter Robbie Sutton made his first career start, playing for regular starter Tyler Heap who is listed day to day with a sprained ankle. Sutton recorded a career-high 36 assists in the sweep of USC.
The Cougars held the Trojans to 48 combined points in the match, USC’s fewest in the rally-scoring era. USC's 13 points in the opening set were its fewest in a 25-point set since getting 13 versus Hawaii in 2002.
BYU is No. 4 in the most recent AVCA coaches' poll, and UC Santa Barbara is No. 5. Pepperdine, who tied BYU for a share of the MPSF regular-season title, is No. 2 and Stanford is No. 3.
UC Santa Barbara (18-8, 16-8 MPSF) fought off UCLA in a five-set home victory Saturday to earn the semifinal berth. Down 2-1 after three sets, the Gauchos came back from a 14-7 deficit to win the fourth set 25-20 and the fifth set 15-12 behind Evan Licht’s 17 kills.
Pepperdine (19-6, 18-6 MPSF) defeated Long Beach State in its quarterfinal match Saturday, taking down the 49ers 3-1 at home. The Waves lost the first set, but rattled off victories in the next three sets to take the match. Kyle Gerrans led the Waves with a career-high 17 kills, helped out by Matt West’s 44 assists.
Also battling in a five-set match in the quarterfinals, Stanford (21-7, 17-7 MPSF) managed to defeat defending national champion UC Irvine on the Cardinal’s home court. Stanford overcame a 13-12 Anteater lead in the fifth set to take the win, led by Brian Cook’s 21 kills and nine digs.
With no upsets in the quarterfinals, all four top seeds in the tournament reached the semifinal matches this season.