No. 4 BYU sweeps Saint Francis to remain undefeated
LORETTO, Pa. — No. 4 BYU men’s volleyball recorded nine aces in a sweep (25-21, 25-15, 25-18) over Saint Francis Saturday at DeGol Arena, just 13 hours after finishing a five-set match the previous night against Penn State.
“When we decided to change this match from the evening to the morning, we talked to the team about our mindset and approach to dealing with change," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "I am very happy with our team's focus considering the quick turnaround after a long match last night."
Freshman Davide Gardini led the Cougars with 11 kills on a .526 hitting percentage, in addition to a career- and match-high four aces. Setter Wil Stanley contributed 27 assists and matched his season high with three aces. Miki Jauhiainen and Branden Oberender each had four blocks, with Oberender also adding a career-high seven kills to his stat line.
With the quick turnaround between matches, Olmstead went with Taylor Richards at libero to give Zach Hendrickson a rest, and 11 Cougars saw the floor over the three-set match.
The match started out close, with the teams tied at eight early in the first set. BYU was able to pull away, however, and an ace from Stanley gave the Cougars their largest lead, 20-13. The Red Flash brought it back within three, 23-20, before the Cougars won it, 25-21 on a kill from Gardini.
BYU led the entire second set. A serving hot streak gave the Cougars their first double-digit lead, 21-11, after back-to-back aces from Gardini and another one from Alex Ah Sue. BYU was able to maintain the 10-point advantage, going on to win the set 25-15.
In the third set BYU elected to rest several of its starters, giving some of the younger Cougars such as Ah Sue and Oberender a chance to prove themselves. The team was able to continue its lead, and a block by Oberender put BYU up by six, 19-13. Three service errors by the Red Flash late in the set allowed BYU to pull away, and a block by Ah Sue sealed the victory, 25-18.
With the win, BYU improves to 4-0 on the season and Saint Francis drops to 3-1. The Cougars have a two-week break before heading to California for back-to-back matches against UC Santa Barbara Feb. 1 and 2. Links for live stats 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.