No. 7 BYU loses in four sets to No. 4 UCLA
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Gabi Garcia Fernandez continued his impressive play with 11 kills, three aces, seven digs and three blocks, but it wasn’t enough to push No. 7 BYU men's volleyball past No. 4 UCLA, as the Cougars lost in four sets (16-25, 25-14, 25-19, 25-18) on Saturday at the John Wooden Center.
Felipe de Brito Ferreira and Cyrus Fa’alogo led the team in blocks with five each, while Taylor Richards tied with Garcia Fernandez for the lead in digs with seven.
BYU took a 10-7 lead early in the first set and never looked back, using four service aces to propel them to the 25-16 win to open the match.
The Bruins came out swinging in the second set, taking a 9-3 lead thanks to two consecutive aces from Micah Ma’a. BYU brought it within four, 14-10, before UCLA put together a 6-0 run to extend it to 20-10. UCLA went on to win the second set, 25-14, despite BYU totaling six aces through two periods and five kills from Garcia Fernandez.
UCLA once again jumped out to an early lead, 10-6, in the following set, and was able to maintain the lead and win the third set, 25-19. Garcia Fernandez was up to eight kills and five digs after three sets, while Davide Gardini was close behind with five kills and four digs.
BYU kept it close in the fourth set, tying it up at 7-7 as Garcia Fernandez crossed the 10-kill mark for the fourth-straight match. The Bruins extended their lead to 14-9 before a block brought BYU back within three, 16-13. UCLA was able to pull away once again, and the Bruins’ 13th service ace of the night won them the set, 25-18, and the match, 3-1.
The Cougars fall to an even 4-4 on the season, 0-2 in the MPSF, while the Bruins improve to 10-2 overall and 2-0 in MPSF play. BYU returns home for its first match in the Smith Fieldhouse since the season’s opening weekend, taking on Concordia Thursday, Feb. 14, and No. 14 USC on Saturday, Feb. 16. The matches will be televised live on BYUtv and live stats can be found on the men’s volleyball 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.