No. 2 BYU sweeps No. 13 Stanford before sellout crowd
PROVO, Utah – No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball swept No. 13 Stanford (25-12, 25-21, 25-22) on Saturday in front of a crowd of 5,817 at the Smith Fieldhouse, the highest-attended home match since 2005.
"We had some great support from our volleyball community and we've got some really loyal volleyball fans," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "Now, we're looking forward to the challenge of going on the road. We won’t be here in the Smith Fieldhouse, but volleyball is still volleyball and it’s just a different gym."
The Cougars finished with a season-high 15.5 blocks in their 16th-consecutive win of the season to remain undefeated. The 16-0 record is already the second-best start to a season in program history as well as the second-longest winning streak in the rally era.
Outside hitter Zach Eschenberg set a new career-high of six blocks while totaling eight kills, four digs and an ace. Setter Wil Stanley had five blocks to match his career-high while pacing the team with 30 assists. Opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez led all players with 12 kills and three aces. The junior has already recorded 45 aces on the season, the fifth-most aces in a season by a BYU player in the rally era, and is 11 away from breaking the school record. Middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen led the team with seven blocks and added six kills.
A pair of kills by Garcia Fernandez and an ace by Eschenberg gave BYU (16-0, 6-0 MPSF) a 7-3 lead over Stanford (6-9, 2-4 MPSF). Garcia Fernandez scored the second ace of the night during an 8-1 run for the Cougars, landing the score at 16-5. Back-to-back blocks by Stanley and Jauhiainen extended the BYU lead to 20-7. The Cougars won the set, 25-12, while logging 6.5 team blocks in the first game.
BYU took the lead early in the second set with a 5-0 run before a kill by Jauhiainen put the Cougars up 6-2. Back-to-back kills by Eschenberg on the outside extended BYU’s advantage to 13-9. Stanford tied the set up 14-14 off a Cougar attack error, but BYU quickly reclaimed the edge on a Cardinal service error. Kills by Garcia Fernandez and Eschenberg extended the Cougars’ lead to 21-17. A Jauhiainen kill ended the set to give BYU the 25-21 win.
The two teams went back and forth at the start of the third set, resulting in the scoring being tied at 8-8. The Cardinals took a two-point edge over the Cougars, 11-9. Four BYU blocks fueled an 8-0 run as BYU seized control of the game, 17-11. Garcia Fernandez’s third ace of the night landed the Cougars at 22-14 before Stanford rallied back to come within one point, 23-22. An ace by Branden Oberender ended set three, 25-22, and clinched BYU's fourth sweep in a row.
The Cougars travel to take on No. 1 Hawaii in consecutive matches next week. Both teams will be undefeated in the first match on Thursday, March 5, at 7 p.m. HST. The second match will be on Friday, March 6, at 7 p.m. HST. Both matches will be streamed live on Spectrum Sports.
No. 2 BYU set to host No. 13 Stanford
PROVO, Utah – No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball will look to remain undefeated with a matchup against No. 13 Stanford on Saturday, Feb. 29, at 7 p.m. MST in the Smith Fieldhouse.
The match will be televised on BYUtv and streamed live on byutv.org and the BYUtv App. It is the second-to-last home match of the season as the Cougars will be on the road until Senior Night against Grand Canyon on April 2.
Winners of their first 15 matches, the Cougars (15-0, 5-0 MPSF) are currently riding the second-best start in program history and the second-best winning streak in the rally era. After playing 10 ranked opponents in its first 12 matches, the Cardinal (6-8, 2-3) will be the 11th ranked opponent BYU has faced this year.
The Cougars swept both Concordia and USC last week to remain atop the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings with a conference record of 5-0. Stanford is currently tied for fourth in the league with wins over Concordia and No. 7 UCLA.
BYU is 38-22 overall and 19-7 at home against the Cardinal. Under head coach Shawn Olmstead, the Cougars have won eight of the last 10 matchups. The two teams split the season series last year before BYU defeated Stanford in a five-set thriller in the first round of the MPSF Tournament.
The Cougars have outblocked their opponents in 14 of their 15 wins and currently lead the NCAA DI-II with an average of 2.89 blocks per set. Middle blocker Felipe de Brito Ferreira leads the MPSF with 1.28 blocks per set while ranking seventh nationally. Opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez averages 1.02 blocks per set and MPSF Defensive Player of the Week Miki Jauhiainen averages 1.00 blocks per set to rank fourth and fifth in the conference, respectively.
Garcia Fernandez continues to lead the nation in aces per set with an average of .840. He has already totaled 42 aces so far this year, the seventh-most aces in a season by a BYU player. With nine matches remaining in the regular season, the junior is well on pace to break the program’s season record of 55 aces set by Taylor Sander in 2014.
The opposite hitter also averages 5.34 points per set to rank second in the NCAA DI-II. He leads the Cougar attack with 3.96 kills per set and 8.14 attacks per set. Setter Wil Stanley remains second in the country in assists per set (10.78) while helping BYU hit an average of .353, the second-best team hitting percentage in the nation.
After going 4-1 to open the season, the Cardinal have lost seven of their last nine matches. Stanford is led by opposite hitter Jaylen Jasper. The junior currently leads the MPSF with 4.09 kills per set while leading the team in attacks per set (8.76), hitting percentage (.293) and points per set (4.63).