Gardini, Ah Sue lead No. 10 BYU in home opener five set thriller over No. 13 UC Irvine
PROVO, Utah — Senior outside hitter Davide Gardini and senior opposite hitter Alex Ah Sue led No. 10 BYU men’s volleyball to a five set victory over No. 13 UC Irvine (25-23, 25-23, 17-25, 25-27, 15-12) in the Cougars' home opener at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday.
“I knew it was going to be really awesome tonight,” Ah Sue said. “The crowd here carries us through a lot of hard times. It’s something we didn’t have on the road, and we need to get better at that, but having Cougar Nation out here supporting us really helps. UC Irvine got better as the night went on, and we knew that we had to take care of things on our side of the net.”
Gardini led the Cougars with 18 kills on a .238 hitting percentage while Ah Sue pitched in 15 kills, hitting .282 on the night. Sophomore setter Zeo Meyer tallied 40 assists.
As a team, BYU hit .216 compared to UC Irvine’s .331. However, the Cougars benefitted from 22 attacking errors and 24 service errors by the Anteaters, while also recording 16 blocks.
UC Irvine’s Sani Francesco started the match with three quick kills. Two service errors by the Anteaters put the Cougars on the board, trailing 4-2. Gardini tacked on BYU’s first kill and ace of the set. Ah Sue continued the momentum with a kill of his own, tying the match 5-5.
The teams continued to trade the lead, tying again at 6-6 and 7-7. Breaking away from UC Irvine, BYU managed a 3-0 run, including a service ace by Ah Sue. This lead diminished after two attack errors by the Cougars and Francesco’s fourth kill of the set.
The set would remain tight, tying five more times until 16-16. From there, BYU maintained a narrow lead thanks to opportune kills by senior middle blocker Branden Oberender and sophomore middle blocker Gavin Julien. The Anteaters laid down two kills at set point, but another Ah Sue kill sealed the set win at 25-23.
BYU quickly took a 3-0 lead after freshman outside hitter Miks Ramanis’s first career kill and ace. Francesco put up back-to-back kills, but Ah Sue followed with two of his own. This would allow BYU to keep a 9-5 lead.
Two kills by UC Irvine’s Hilir Henno closed the gap to 11-10. Francesco’s tenth kill of the night tied the set at 12-12. A kill by Gardini, accompanied by three errors by the Anteaters, widened the gap to 16-13. UC Irvine battled back with a 3-0 run, tying the set yet again at 16-16.
Tying another three times in the final moments of the set, BYU took the set win at 25-23 off Gardini’s seventh kill.
Tied at 2-2, BYU put up five errors, allowing UC Irvine to pull away, leading 11-5. The Cougars clawed back with kills by Oberender and Ah Sue. A block by sophomore middle blocker Gavin Julian and Gardini, paired with three Gardini kills, cut UC Irvine's lead to 15-12.
Gardini smashed another kill into the middle, but a BYU hitting error allowed the Anteaters to keep a 20-15 lead.
In the end, a BYU service error and Anteater block closed out the set at 25-17, cutting the Cougars’ match lead to 2-1.
Kills by Ramanis and Gardini tied the set early at 2-2 early. An ace off the tape by Meyer gave BYU a slight lead at 4-3. The teams traded points from there, tying again at 7-7. A 3-0 run advanced the Cougars to 13-11. This run included an ace and kill by Gardini.
UC Irvine rallied again and the two teams found themselves tied five more times by 20-20.
Both teams traded service errors, locking the set at 22-22. Another BYU service error had the Cougars down one, but Meyer notched a kill on his first dump-off of the game to tie it again at 23-23. BYU had match point after an Ah Sue kill, but three-straight points by the Anteaters gave UC Irvine its second set-win of the night at 27-25.
Ah Sue opened the final set with a two needed kills, putting the Cougars ahead 4-2. Gardini won a joust at the net, forcing a UC Irvine timeout. Consecutive triple blocks gave BYU a 7-3 lead. After a Gardini ace, a Julian kill, three Anteater errors and an ace by junior libero Jon Stanley, the Cougars held a commanding 13-7 lead.
Two-straight Irvine points cut the BYU lead to four. Ramanis landed a cross court kill for match point, but a 3-0 UCI run made it 14-12. After a rally, Oberender dropped a tip, eluding the Anteaters' defense to close out the five-set victory for BYU, 15-12.
The Cougars are set to face the Anteaters again on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. MST. The match will be televised on BYUtv and streamed on the BYUtv app
No. 10 BYU hosts No. 13 UC Irvine in first home series of 2022
PROVO, Utah — No. 10 BYU men’s volleyball will host No. 13 UC Irvine in a two-match series in the Smith Fieldhouse starting Thursday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. MST.
In the all-time series between these two teams, BYU leads 50-20. The Cougars last faced the Anteaters in January 2020, when BYU picked up two 3-1 victories.
No. 10 Brigham Young University Cougars (0-2, 0-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation)
- BYU finished the 2021 season with a 20-4 record, its eighth MPSF Conference championship title, a trip to the NCAA national championship game and a No. 2 national ranking
- This is head coach Shawn Olmstead’s seventh season
- The Cougars welcome back 11 returners and have added nine newcomers
- Off the Block recognized junior Davide Gardini as preseason First Team All-American
- In its season opener, BYU fell 3-0 to Penn State in back-to-back matches in University Park, Pennsylvania
No. 13 University of California Irvine Anteaters (3-1, 0-0 Big West Conference)
- No. 12 ranking in the AVCA preseason coaches' poll
- The Anteaters are coming off two wins against Harvard (3-0) and Stanford (3-1)
- Freshman Hilir Henno made his Anteater debut and earned Big West Defensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week
- UC Irvine finished its 2021 season with a 2-14 overall record and a 2-8 conference record
- At the end of last season, Cole Gillis, Francesco Sani, Dylan Zhai and Connor Campbell were all named to the Big West All-Freshman team, the most first year honorees in Anteater history
BROADCAST INFORMATION – Jan. 21
BROADCAST INFORMATION – Jan. 22
Consistent with current BYU requirements, all in attendance will need to provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test upon entry. Masks will also be required, regardless of vaccination status. Find more details at byu.edu/coronavirus.