No. 1 BYU Sweeps No. 8 UCLA
PROVO, Utah – No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball swept No. 8 UCLA (25-16, 25-21, 25-17) on Saturday to split the two-match series.
"Energy and good decisions made us better tonight," junior hitter Davide Gardini said "this is gonna take us into Pepperdine next week, we're gonna have a different fire. This is the level we can play at and we can do it again all year long. We're excited for sure, tonight gave us a lot of confidence."
All-Americans Gabi Garcia Fernandez and Davide Gardini both reached double-digit kills to lead the Cougars in the win. Garcia Fernandez recorded 12 kills, with zero errors, on an exceptional .800 clip. The 2019 AVCA Player of the Year also added nine digs, two aces and a pair of blocks to his stat line. Gardini ended the match with 11 kills, three digs and two aces.
In his season debut, All-American Wil Stanley had 30 assists while helping the team hit an impressive .406 in the match. BYU’s strong defense held the Bruins to a .152 hitting percentage on the day.
Garcia Fernandez and Gardini each tallied a pair of early kills to put BYU (1-1, 1-1 MPSF) up 10-6 over UCLA (1-1, 1-1 MPSF). Zach Eschenberg added a pair of kills of his own to increase the Cougars’ advantage to 21-14. Miki Jauhiainen assisted on back-to-back blocks before recording a kill down the middle to help BYU clinch the set, 25-16.
Gardini had four kills to help the Cougars take a 12-10 edge at the start of the second game. Aces by Garcia Fernandez and Gardini gave BYU a four-point lead, 16-12. The Bruins used a 6-2 run to tie the score up at 18-all. Following four-straight UCLA errors, Gardini ended the set from the service line, 25-21.
After trailing the Bruins 8-5, Gardini had four kills to fuel a 7-1 run to make the score 12-9 in favor of the Cougars. Eschenberg added four kills of his own as BYU expanded its lead to 22-15. A block by Garcia Fernandez and Gavin Julien followed by consecutive service errors secured the set, 25-17, and the sweep.
The Cougars will remain at home and will host Pepperdine at the Smith Fieldhouse in a two-match series Feb. 12-13. Both matches will be broadcast on BYUtv and the BYUtv App.
No. 1 BYU to Open 2021 Season Against No. 8 UCLA
Provo, UTAH. - The BYU Cougars are set to take on in-conference opponent UCLA this Thursday and Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse. After nearly 11 months without play, the 2021 season will officially begin.
The matches are scheduled for February 4th and 6th. Thursday’s first serve will be at 7:00 pm MST while Saturday’s will be at 4:00 pm MST. Both games will be streamed on BYUtv. At this time, only limited family members of players are allowed to attend games in the Smith Fieldhouse.
This is the first time since 2010 that the Cougars have faced UCLA opening weekend. The team is looking to maintain Coach Olmstead’s perfect 7-0 record against the Bruins in Provo. BYU holds the overall series record 36-34.
The No. 1 Cougars have held the top spot in the country since March 2020. BYU has not played any matches yet in 2021, but ranking has stood. This week’s opponent, UCLA, is ranked 8th nationally and is coming off of a sweep of No. 10 Grand Canyon. That win was UCLA’s first game of the 2021 season.
Both teams will be looking to win big this weekend, as this matchup has become somewhat of a rivalry. MPSF game wins will be important this year due to the fact that BYU and UCLA are slated to only play in conference opponents in the regular season. BYU is projected to finish first in the conference, with UCLA estimated to come in third. The Cougars and Bruins will not meet again until April 9th and 10th in Los Angeles.