No. 10 BYU Takes Down No. 3 UC Irvine in four
PROVO, Utah – No. 10 BYU men’s volleyball took down No. 3 UC Irvine 3-1 on Friday in the Smith Fieldhouse after four tightly-contested sets (20-25, 25-17, 32-30, 25-19).
“It was a total team effort for us," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "All credit to the players – they did a really nice job. I really liked what we did: we stayed competitive, served tough and passed really well.”
Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the team with 23 kills and totaled three service aces, while Davide Gardini followed close behind with 21 kills and added four block assists. Both Garcia Fernandez and Gardini recorded seven digs during the night. In Cyrus Fa’alogo’s first start at setter this season he totaled 46 assists, doubling his former career-high. Junior Zach Eschenberg had his best outing as Cougar with an all-around stat line of four kills, five digs and four blocks, all career highs.
The Cougars and the Anteaters battled back and forth in the first set, matching each other at 15. Garcia Fernandez’s third kill of the night gave BYU a two-point advantage at 18-16, but UC Irvine fought back to gain a 21-18 lead soon after. Three consecutive kills by the Anteaters gave them the first set, 25-20.
Junior Andrew Lincoln pushed back in the next set with two service aces to give BYU a 3-1 lead. Four kills by Gardini and one by Eschenberg allowed BYU some breathing room with a six-point lead at 14-8, forcing UC Irvine to take a timeout. Following the break, kills by Garcia Fernandez, Gardini and Eschenberg increased the gap, 20-12. A final kill by Miki Jauhiainen and an attack error on UCI's Aaron Koubi rewarded BYU second-set victory at 25-17.
Both teams put on the pressure in the third set, trading points until another kill by Garcia Fernandez helped BYU break out and take their first two-point lead of the set, 14-12. After back and forth points, the Anteaters reclaimed the advantage late in the set, bringing the score to 24-23, but a service error kept them from taking the win. Neither team gave in and the set was tied again at 30 before the Cougars claimed the set with a score of 32-30.
The Cougars kept the foot on the gas in the fourth set, taking a 12-7 lead after an error on UCI. Back-to-back kills by Garcia Fernandez and Gardini pushed BYU further ahead, 14-9, while Jauhiainen joined in to bring them up 20-14. Three consecutive points by the Anteaters didn’t discourage the Cougars as Garcia Fernandez and Gardini added a pair of kills to bring them to match point and Garcia Fernandez finished off the match with a 25-19 win in the fourth set.
No. 10 BYU welcomes No. 3 UC Irvine to Provo
PROVO, Utah — No. 10 BYU men’s volleyball welcomes No. 3 UC Irvine to the Smith Fieldhouse this weekend for back-to-back matches on Friday and Saturday, both at 7 p.m. MT.
No. 10 BYU (8-5, 3-2 MPSF)
The Cougars are coming off two matches against No. 8 Stanford, winning one in Provo in five sets and losing the other in California in four sets. The win in the fifth-set overtime kept BYU undefeated at home this season. The Smith Fieldhouse ranks No. 2 in the nation in average attendance this year with 3,325 coming out each match, trailing Hawai’i by less than 200 fans per match for first place.
Davide Gardini earned his third Off the Block National Freshman of the Week honor for two standout performances against Stanford, becoming the only player in the nation with three selections this season. He had a career-high 22 kills on a .515 hitting percentage on Thursday in Provo and a career-high five block assists to go along with 13 kills and 10 digs for his second double-double of the season at Stanford on Saturday. He is the only BYU player with a double-double this season.
Sophomore Gabi Garcia Fernandez continued his consistent offensive output against the Cardinal, putting up 13 kills in each match to extend his double-digit streak to nine consecutive matches. He remains at the top of the MPSF in kills and points with 4.26 and 5.00 per set averages, respectively. He also contributed on the defensive end with eight total digs and six blocks on the week.
Junior middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen remains the anchor on the defensive end for the Cougars, with four-or-more blocks in each of his past four matches. He had five against Stanford in Provo and is second in the MPSF in blocks with 1.15 per set.
BYU as a team has set itself apart on the defensive end, leading the MPSF in blocks with 2.43 per set and ranking third in opponent hitting percentage at .256.
No. 3 UC Irvine (13-4, 2-2 Big West)
The Anteaters lost back-to-back matches last week for the first time this season, getting swept twice by No. 2 Hawai’i at home in Irvine.
BYU owns the all-time series against UCI, 47-19, but the Anteaters have won three of four matchups in the past two years. The most recent BYU victory came in a sweep at home in the Smith Fieldhouse on Jan. 28, 2017.
Sophomore outside hitter Joel Schneidmiller leads the Anteaters on offense with 3.58 kills per set, while 7-foot junior Scott Stadick leads on defense with 1.34 blocks per set, good for fourth in the nation.
BYU’s defense bests UCI’s statistically with 11.6-13.0 and .256-.260 advantages in opponent kills and opponent hitting percentage, respectively, while the Anteaters take the cake on offense with 13.0-11.6 and .318-.311 leads in kills per set and hitting percentage, respectively.