Serving hot streak leads No. 5 BYU to sweep of No. 14 Ball State
PROVO, Utah – Seven aces from the service line contributed to the No. 5 BYU men’s volleyball sweep of No. 14 Ball State (25-17, 25-20, 25-18) Saturday at the Smith Fieldhouse.
“We discussed as a team that we could play better than the match against Ohio State and put more pressure when serving – they did a great job doing that tonight," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "Of course it’s always nice to be able to start the season here at home and find that rhythm in front of the fans. The community and support system here is amazing. We can’t have that energy we have here on the road so we’re going to have a tough test on the road against Penn State next week.”
Setter Wil Stanley contributed three of the match’s seven aces, along with 31 assists and two blocks. Gabi Garcia Fernandez collected a season-high 16 kills, two aces, three digs and three blocks. Davide Gardini added nine kills, one ace, two digs and one block. Felipe de Brito Ferreira recorded two aces, five kills and three blocks. The team averaged a .375 hitting percentage in the match, compared to just .107 from Ball State.
The Cardinals claimed the first lead of set one with a 3-0 run. A triple block by Cyrus Fa’alogo, Garcia Fernandez and Miki Jauhiainen and back-to-back kills by Garcia Fernandez propelled the Cougars forward, 6-4. BYU went on a 3-0 run that included kills by Garcia Fernandez and Gardini to continue their lead, 12-7. The teams traded points back and forth but BYU defended their lead, 18-12, after several kills. The Cougars took the set, 25-17, with their first ace of the match by Stanley.
The Cougars and Cardinals traded points back and forth to start the second set, but the Cardinals gradually gained an 8-4 edge. Kills by de Brito Ferreira and Gardini and defensive pressure decreased Ball State’s lead to only two points, 10-8. Back-to-back kills by Fa’alogo propelled BYU forward to tie the score at 14-14. The Cougars continued the momentum with several kills and Stanley’s second ace to claim the advantage, 21-18. Despite Ball State’s effort to regain the lead, BYU sealed the second set, 25-20, with a Garcia Fernandez kill.
To start the third set, the Cougars and Cardinals stayed neck and neck for several points but the Cougars were able to gradually get ahead after an ace by Garcia Fernandez brought the score to 14-12. BYU increased their lead, 18-13, with back-to-back kills and an ace by de Brito Ferreira. A kill by freshman Kana’i Akana in his BYU debut brought the Cougars to match point and an ace by Garcia Fernandez gave them the 25-18 win and sweep over the Cardinals.
The Cougars travel to Penn State for their next match on Friday Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. EST at the Rec Hall. The game will be live broadcast on theW.tv and live stats can be found on the men’s volleyball schedule page.
BYU opens season against two Top 15 opponents
PROVO, Utah – No. 5 BYU men’s volleyball opens the 2019 season at home this week against two Top 15 foes in No. 7 Ohio State and No. 14 Ball State. The Cougars host the three-time national champion Buckeyes in the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday before the Cardinals visit Provo on Saturday. Both matches start at 7 p.m. MST.
No. 5 BYU (0-0)
The Cougars return 13 players from last year’s roster, including AVCA Newcomer of the Year Gabi Garcia Fernandez and Freshman All-American Felipe Ferreira de Brito.
BYU was picked to finish second behind UCLA in the MPSF preseason poll after winning the regular season title and MPSF championship last season .
The team was ranked No. 5 in the AVCA preseason coaches poll after reaching the Final Four last season, where they lost to UCLA in the semifinal.
No. 7 Ohio State (2-0)
BYU welcomes the Buckeyes to the Smith Fieldhouse Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m MST.
Ohio State is coming off of two wins at home against Charleston, who they swept, and Penn State. The trip to Provo will be the first road game for the Buckeyes.
The series history favors BYU at 12-6 overall, including a win over a No. 1 ranked Buckeyes team in Columbus, Ohio, last season. The two teams faced each other in back-to-back national championship matches in 2016 and 2017. BYU and Ohio State have each won the NCAA title three times.
No. 14 Ball State (2-0)
The Cardinals take on the Cougars Saturday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. MST in the Smith Fieldhouse.
Ball State won its first two matches against Princeton and New Jersey Institute of Technology last week, and plays at UC Irvine and Stanford this week before traveling to Provo on Saturday.
BYU is 11-4 against the Cardinals in the all-time series, including a win last season in Muncie, Indiana, when the Cardinals were also ranked No. 14.
Links to video streams and live stats for the week can be found on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.