No. 4 BYU wins five-set thriller at Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. — Gabi Garcia Fernandez had a career-high 27 kills and Will Stanley a career-high 53 assists as No. 4 BYU men's volleyball won a five-set thriller over Penn State (25-22, 25-27, 28-26, 19-25, 15-13) Friday in the Rec Hall.
"I was happy that we stayed focused in the fifth set," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "We talked about the ups and downs from this match and how we can be better in certain situations. Penn State competed well and I felt we matched it on our side."
Freshman Davide Gardini had a career-high in kills as well with 17 and Cyrus Fa’alogo got a new season high with 10 kills. Felipe de Brito Ferreira led the team in blocks with a season-high seven, while Garcia Fernandez added five. Gardini led the team in digs with 11.
The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first set, bringing about an early timeout by the Cougars to talk things over. A series of Penn State service errors allowed BYU to bring it back within one, 14-13, and Fa’alogo’s first kill tied the match. The Cougars extended their lead to three, 19-16, but solid blocking from the Nittany Lions allowed them to come back and take the lead again, 20-19. Back-to-back kills from Fa’alogo gave BYU its first set point, 24-22, and a Penn State hitting error ended the set. Fa’alogo led in kills with five after one.
The Cougars were able to build an 8-5 lead in the second set, thanks in large part to Garcia Fernandez, who had the team’s first service ace and a pair of kills early in the set. The Cougars went on to extend their lead to seven, 16-9, before the Nittany Lions brought it back within two, 18-16. A BYU blocking error allowed Penn State to tie the set at 19, before the Cougars pulled away again to a 21-19 lead. Garcia Fernandez reached double-digit kills for the third-straight match late in the second set, but the Nittany Lions came back to win the set, 27-25, tying the match at one-all. Garcia Fernandez had 13 kills on a .500 hitting percentage after two sets.
BYU opened up a 10-5 lead early in the third set, looking to impose themselves after a back-and-forth second set. Gardini reached double-digit kills for the second time in his young BYU career in the third set. The Nittany Lions tied the set back up at 16, however, and then took an 18-17 lead. Penn State appeared to win the set, 25-23, but Olmstead challenged the set point and won, putting the score at 24-all. A hitting error brought up BYU’s first set point, 27-26, and the Cougars converted to go up 2-1 in the match. Fa’alogo became the third Cougar with double-digit kills when he reached 10 in the third set.
Penn State got its seventh service ace of the match early in the fourth set to go up 7-3. BYU was then able to tie it at 11 as Garcia Fernandez crossed the 20-kill mark for the first time this season and the second time in his career. Penn State re-established the lead, 18-15, and then extended it to four, 21-17 soon after. The Nittany Lions went on to take the set, 25-19.
Garcia Fernandez got his second ace of the match to put the Cougars up 6-5 early in the fifth and final set, followed by a block from de Brito Ferreira and Stanley to build a 7-5 lead. BYU led for most of the set, but Penn State came back to tie it at 12. The Cougars were able to hang on and win the set, 15-13 to stay undefeated on the year.
BYU improves to 3-0 this season and will remain in Pennsylvania for a match tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 19 at 11 a.m. EST at Saint Francis. Live stats and a streaming link can be found on the men's volleyball schedule page.
No. 4 BYU travels to Pennsylvania for first road matches
PROVO, Utah — No. 4 BYU men’s volleyball travels to Pennsylvania for matches against Penn State on Friday and Saint Francis on Saturday.
No. 4 BYU (2-0)
The Cougars are coming off of sweeps over No. 7 Ohio State and No. 14 Ball State last weekend in the Smith Fieldhouse, en route to a No. 4 national ranking this week.
Sophomore opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez was named AVCA National Player of the Week, Off the Block National Opposite of the Week and MPSF Offensive Player of the Week after recording 31 kills and four aces on a .407 hitting percentage for the weekend.
Freshman outside hitter Davide Gardini was named Off the Block National Freshman of the Week after a breakout performance against No. 7 Ohio State when he recorded 13 kills at a .417 clip.
Junior middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen anchored the defense in the opening week with seven blocks and four digs. He leads the team in blocks and ranks second in the MPSF with 1.17 blocks per set.
Penn State (1-1)
This is the 20th meeting between BYU and Penn State, with the Cougars leading the overall series 12-6. The last matchup was last season in Honolulu, Hawai’i, when the Cougars held on to win a five-set match over the Nittany Lions.
The Nittany Lions lost their opening match to Ohio State in four sets, but went on to beat North Greenville University in straight sets at home in the Rec Hall.
Penn State holds its opponents to single-digit kills with just 9.7 per set and on the other end is averaging 2.4 aces per set from the service line.
Saint Francis (3-0)
This is just the second meeting between the Cougars and the Red Flash, with the first being a 3-1 BYU victory at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California, in 2010.
The Red Flash have yet to drop a set, sweeping Emmanuel College, Daemen College and Alderson Broaddus last weekend.
Saint Francis is holding opponents to just 6.7 kills per set and average 12 kills per set themselves. The Lions are hitting at a .413 clip and average 2.2 blocks per set.