No. 2 Cougars continue win streak with sweep over Trojans
PROVO, Utah – No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball swept USC (25-18, 25-15, 25-19) at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday to maintain its perfect record on the year.
“I thought we were good and focused on our side of the net from start to finish,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I liked that we kept that focus to the end because sometimes you go through the ups and downs. I thought our guys were really consistent tonight and I’m really proud of them.”
While in the midst of the second-best start to a season in program history, the Cougars' 15th-consecutive win also ties the second-longest win streak in the rally era. The sweep over the Trojans helps BYU remain in control of first place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings with a 5-0 record in league play.
Opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez totaled eight kills, three digs and six blocks. With his 11.5 points on the night, the junior moved up to No. 10 in career points scored in the rally era with 1,209 points. He passed Jonathan Alleman (1,199) to break into the top 10.
Outside hitter Davide Gardini led the team with nine kills on a .636 clip while also contributing eight digs, two blocks and an ace. Opposite hitter Alex Ah Sue had five kills on a team-high hitting percentage of .714 in addition to leading the Cougars with two aces. Middle blocker Branden Oberender had a career-high seven blocks while fellow middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen added five kills and four blocks.
Jauhiainen started the first set with a kill and BYU (15-0, 5-0 MPSF) had three consecutive blocks by Obrender, Garcia Fernandez and Gardini to put the Cougars up 5-2 over USC (3-12, 1-5). Garcia Fernandez and Jauhiainen added back-to-back kills to contribute to a 5-0 run that extended the advantage to 15-7. The Cougars ended a rally with a kill by Jauhainen to bring the score to 17-10. Following a Gardini kill, a Trojan service error ended the first game to give BYU a 25-18 win.
A kill by Wil Stanley and an Eschenberg ace helped the Cougars take an early lead in the second set, 4-2. BYU went on a 3-0 run with a pair of Gardini kills and a block by Oberender and Garcia Fernandez to make the score 7-5. Oberender connected on two kills to give the Cougars a 9-8 edge. Powered by Garcia Fernandez and Eschenberg and back-to-back BYU blocks, the Cougars went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 20-11. Ah Sue clinched the second set from the service line with an ace, 25-15.
Two kills by Gardini and a block by Ah Sue and Jauhiainen aided BYU’s 5-2 lead to begin the third game. Gardini added an ace as the Cougars kept a three-point edge, 8-5. As both teams battled back and forth, kills by Jauhiainen, Oberender and Ah Sue brought the score to 16-13 in favor of BYU. Following Ah Sue’s second ace and a block by Oberender and Stanley, a Gardini kill secured the set and the sweep for the Cougars, 25-19.
BYU will remain at the Smith Fieldhouse to host Stanford on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. MST. The match will be televised by BYUtv and streamed live on the BYUtv App and byutv.org. Tickets can be purchased on byutickets.com
No. 2 Cougars continue MPSF play at home
PROVO, Utah – No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball will host two conference foes this week at the Smith Fieldhouse beginning with Concordia on Thursday, Feb. 20, before facing USC on Saturday, Feb. 22.
The Cougars (13-0, 3-0) will play the Eagles (6-8, 1-2) at 7 p.m. MST on Thursday and the Trojans (2-11, 0-4) at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Both matches will be televised on BYUtv and streamed on the BYUtv App and byutv.org.
As one of two undefeated teams remaining in the NCAA DI-II, BYU remained at No. 2 in this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll behind Hawaii. The Cougars’ 13-match win streak to open the year is the second-best start to a season in program history and the best since 1999. After sweeping Grand Canyon last week, BYU improved to 3-0 against conference opponents to remain atop the MPSF standings.
Since Concordia joined the league in 2017, BYU has split each year’s two-game series while holding a 3-2 record overall. The Cougars swept the Eagles in their two conference wins while both losses have come in five sets. Concordia enters the match tied for fifth in the league after defeating USC and dropping matches to Pepperdine and UCLA.
The Eagles’ attack is led by outside hitter Raymond Barsemian. The senior leads the MPSF in attacks per set (9.76) and is second in kills per set (3.98). As a team, Concordia leads the conference in digs per set (10.00) with libero Addison Enriques pacing the MPSF with 2.37 digs per set.
USC enters the week at the bottom of the league standings having lost its first four matches against MPSF opponents. The Trojans are currently on a five-match skid and their two lone victories this year are five-set wins over Princeton and CSUN. USC will play at Stanford this Thursday before traveling to face BYU in Provo. Under head coach Shawn Olmstead, the Cougars are 7-1 against the Trojans
For the fifth week in a row, BYU opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez leads the NCAA with an average of .886 aces per set. The junior is also the conference leader in points per set (5.47) and kills per set (4.09). Setter Wil Stanley paces the conference with 10.77 assists per set while middle blocker Felipe de Brito Ferreira leads the MPSF with 1.282 blocks per set.
As a team, the Cougars lead the league in hitting percentage (.345), blocks per set (2.755), assists per set (12.21), and kills per set (13.00).