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No. 7 BYU loses opening match of conference play to No. 5 Pepperdine
MALIBU, Calif. — No. 7 BYU men’s volleyball lost the opening match of MPSF conference play against No. 5 Pepperdine in three sets (25-17, 25-19, 25-18) at the Firestone Fieldhouse on Wednesday.
"Pepperdine put good service pressure on us and we couldn’t find a way to slow that down," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "We allowed them to get in a good rhythm. Our offense became too predictable with our passing which made it a long night for our attackers."
Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the Cougars with 13 kills on a .333 hitting percentage, while Wil Stanley added 26 assists and Felipe de Brito Ferreira had four blocks.
A quick 5-1 start by the Waves brought on a timeout from the Cougars. The first service ace of the match extended the Pepperdine lead to 10-3, and the second just minutes later gave the Waves a 12-5 lead. A pair of blocks by Ferreira brought BYU within four, 18-14, causing the Waves to call their first timeout.
The Cougars were unable to close the gap any further, however, and a pair of kills won the set for the Waves, 25-17. Pepperdine led in kills and aces, 14-9 and 4-1, after one set, but BYU had the advantage in total blocks, 4.5-3.
The Waves once again led early in the second set with a 10-6 lead. The Cougars were able to bring it within one, 14-13, before the Waves pulled away once again to a 20-15 lead. A block gave Pepperdine the second-set victory, 25-19.
The Waves were up to 30 kills and seven aces by the start of the third set as they jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Garcia Fernandez reached double-digit kills in the third set for the third-straight match with 10, keeping the Cougars within striking distance, 12-7.
David Wieczorek had back-to-back aces to put Pepperdine up by eight, 16-8, and give the Waves 11 aces on the night. Another ace from Wieczorek gave him five on the night and extended the Pepperdine lead to double digits, 19-9. BYU was able to score nine more points in the third set, but the Waves maintained their lead, eventually winning the set, 25-18, and the three-set sweep.
BYU falls to 4-3 overall on the season and 0-1 in conference play, while Pepperdine improves to 7-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play. The Cougars will stay in California to take on No. 4 UCLA Saturday at 7 p.m. PST at the John Wooden Center. Live stats and streaming links can be found on the schedule page.
No. 7 BYU begins conference play at No. 5 Pepperdine and No. 4 UCLA
PROVO, Utah — No. 7 BYU men’s volleyball begins conference play in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation this week with matches on the road at No. 5 Pepperdine on Wednesday and No. 4 UCLA on Saturday.
No. 7 BYU (4-2, 0-0 MPSF)
The Cougars are coming off of back-to-back losses at No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (9-3), their first losses of the season after starting the year 4-0.
Sophomore opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez continued his impressive play with two 13-kill matches, giving him his fourth and fifth matches in double figures this season. He leads the MPSF in kills per set with a 4.58 average, and his .360 hitting percentage ranks sixth.
Freshman outside hitter Davide Gardini showed off the defensive side of his game with a five-dig, five-block performance against the Gauchos on Friday, Feb. 1. He is tied with Garcia Fernandez for first on the team in total digs and second in total blocks this season. The two hitters both rank in the top three in the MPSF in service aces.
BYU enters conference play as reigning MPSF champions, having beaten UCLA in the championship match last spring. The Cougars were picked to finish second this season behind the Bruins.
No. 5 Pepperdine (6-2, 0-0 MPSF)
The Waves are coming off a win at home against No. 12 CSUN (6-5) and a loss at No. 3 UC Irvine (11-2).
The Cougars have the advantage in service aces and blocks per set this season, with 1.8-1.3 and 2.4-1.9 leads in the two categories, respectively.
Pepperdine owns the all-time series 32-31, but BYU won the last four meetings in a row, including three at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu.
The Waves are led by two senior outside hitters in David Wieczorek and Michael Wexter. Wieczorek leads the team in kills per set with a 3.85 average on a .325 hitting percentage and ranks in the top three in the MPSF in both kills and aces. Wexter is first on the team in digs (tied for second in the MPSF) with 2.21 per set and second on the team in blocks with .61 per set.
No. 4 UCLA (8-2, 0-0 MPSF)
The Bruins are on a three-match win streak, with wins most recently at No. 8 Loyola Chicago (7-3) and No. 10 Lewis (7-4).
BYU leads UCLA in both major defensive categories, with a 7.9-7.8 advantage in digs per set and a 2.4-1.8 advantage in blocks per set.
The Cougars have the advantage in the all-time series, 35-33, including a win last year in the MPSF conference championship match. UCLA won the last matchup between the two teams, however, in the NCAA Championship semifinals last May.
The Bruins swept the MPSF Player of the Week awards this week, with junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah winning offensive and senior setter Micah Ma’a winning defensive. Gyimah leads the conference in hitting percentage with a .550 clip and Ma’a leads the conference in service aces with .71 per set.
Links to live streaming and stats can be found on the men’s volleyball schedule page.