PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Pilots stunned No. 11 Brigham Young in front of a record crowd Thursday night, overwhelming the Cougars in a five-set battle for a 3-2 win at the Chiles Center. The win is the first ever over BYU for the Pilots, and the 11th-ranked Cougars are the highest ranked team ever defeated by a Portland squad. The attendance of 1,113 topped the program's previous best by more than 400 spectators, and they saw the Pilots win with set scores of 25-22, 25-27, 25-22, 17-27, and 15-9.
The Pilots (11-8, 4-3 West Coast Conference) opened the first set with a seven-point run earning an 8-6 lead before BYU's (16-3, 5-2 WCC) Whitney Howard stopped the Pilots' momentum with two kills to even the score. Portland took back the lead with a kill from Hannah Troutman and an ace from Morgan Robinson to make it 14-11. Another kill from Troutman along with a combined block from Sarah Savoca and Katie Sullivan claimed the next three points. The Cougars attempted to regain momentum with kills from Howard and McKenna Miller for a four-point run, but the Pilots battled back to hold the lead with kills from Cali Thompson and Brittney Markwith. Monica Gajda then finished the set with a clean service ace to win the first set 25-22.
The Cougars started off the second set with a three-point lead before the Pilots went on a four-point run, sparked by kills from Reghan Pukis and an ace from Thompson to tie it up 10-10. BYU then tried to pull away with a kill from Miller, but kills from Troutman kept the score close along with a Portland block. Markwith and Pukis added to the comeback along with another block from Savoca and Markwith to tie up the set 19-19. The two teams then fought back and forth in the last few points of the set, pushing the score to extra points. And despite kills from Troutman and Sullivan, Miller recorded back-to-back kills to take the second set 27-25 in favor of BYU.
For the first time ever, the Pilots BEAT THE #11 BYU COUGARS!!!!! What a MATCH! Go Pilots!! pic.twitter.com/LxJTCU9Um4— Portland Volleyball (@UPvolleyball) October 14, 2016
BYU opened up the third set on a five-point run, but the Pilots responded with a six-point run of their own to tie up the set 6-6. After exchanging several points, Pukis took the lead for the Pilots with an impressive four kills in a row to make it 11-10. Following three kills from Troutman, Thompson recorded two blocks to increase the lead by three to make it 17-14. Pukis then rattled off a flurry of kills to help the home team maintain a 21-17 lead. BYU answered with four straight points, but Pukis stopped the run with another kill. A kill from Troutman and a crucial block by Savoca and Markwith then ended the set 25-22.
Portland started off the fourth set with a 5-2 lead, before BYU went on a seven-point run to make it 11-6 in favor of the Cougars. Troutman then initiated a comeback to bring the Pilots within two, but BYU went on another run to increase the lead by eight. Miller finished up the set with a kill, sending the match into a fifth and deciding set.
@UPvolleyball with the biggest win in program history over #11 BYU in 5 sets! So proud of and happy the ladies and the coaching staff.— PilotsCompliance (@PilotCompliance) October 14, 2016
The fifth set was evenly played at the start, but Pukis notched three kills in a row to give the Pilots a 7-5 advantage. BYU fought back to tie it 9-9, but Troutman planted a well-placed ace to give the lead back to the Pilots. A huge block by Sullivan and Pukis followed, along with an instrumental kill from Sullivan brought the Pilots within two points of the match win at 13-9. Then an ace from Troutman and a final kill from Sullivan wrapped up the match.
Pukis recorded a career high in kills with 27, and Troutman notched a double-double with 22 kills and 22 digs. Three other Pilots also had double digits in digs, including Gajda with 20, Morgan Robinson with 13, and Lauren Naatz with 10. Sullivan registered a total of 12 blocks on the night and Thompson had 54 assists.
The Pilots will next be in action on Saturday afternoon against No. 5 USD for their second televised match of the season on CSN-NW. Last season the Pilots swept USD in the Chiles Center for their first ever win over a ranked opponent.