No. 3 UC Irvine hands No. 10 BYU first home loss
PROVO, Utah – No. 10 BYU men’s volleyball suffered its first home loss of the season to No. 3 UC Irvine in four sets (25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22) on Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars were winners of seven straight at home going into the match.
“We were struggling and battling, but in the end UCI was just a little bit better when they needed to be down the stretch," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "This one is going to sting a little bit because I felt like we left a few too many opportunities on the floor, but it's a learning experience for the guys."
Felipe de Brito Ferreira set a new career high of 12 kills in the match, while also adding four blocks. Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the offensive and defensive efforts with 19 kills, four blocks and eight digs. Davide Gardini contributed 15 kills and three digs, while setter Cyrus Fa’alogo totaled 46 assists.
The Cougars (9-6, 3-2 MPSF) had a 3-0 run early with a Gardini ace and a kill by de Brito Ferreira, taking a 5-3 lead. A kill by Zach Eschenberg was followed by a Miki Jauhiainen ace, BYU’s second of the night, making it 18-14. The Anteaters (14-5, 2-2 Big West) kept close behind the Cougars, eventually tying it up, 23-23 off a kill. UC Irvine then took the set 25-23 on a BYU setting error.
Both teams applied pressure to start the second set, keeping it close until the Anteaters broke into double digits off an ace, 12-9. The Cougars chipped away at the lead, evening the score, 13-13, off of two consecutive kills from Garcia Fernandez. BYU then took a four-point edge with a triple block, 20-16. A 3-0 run fueled by three kills added to the lead, and a Gardini kill sealed the set for the Cougars, 25-19.
A slide attack by Gardini put BYU in the lead, 4-2, to begin the third set. Multiple errors on both sides of the net evened out the score at 9-9 until a kill gave UC Irvine a slim 16-14 advantage. A de Brito Ferreira kill shaved down the BYU deficit to 21-19, while a Jauhiainen kill and an Anteater error evened the set, 23-23. A block on the right side then gave UC Irvine a 25-23 third-set victory.
A pair of de Brito Ferreira kills led BYU to a quick 4-2 start in the fourth set. Dual blocks by Jauhiainen, Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga and Garcia Fernandez then restored the Cougars’ advantage, 9-8, after a short UC Irvine edge. However, UC Irvine went on a 3-0 run to take the 17-13 advantage. A kill by Gardini helped to reduce the point discrepancy, 22-20, but a kill by the Anteaters ultimately led to a 25-22 set and match win for UC Irvine.
The Cougars return to their home court on Thursday March 14, at 7 p.m. MDT to battle the UCLA Bruins. The match will be live broadcast on BYUtv and live stats will be available on the men’s volleyball schedule page.
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.