STANFORD, Calif. – No. 6 BYU men’s volleyball rallied past Stanford in four sets (33-31, 25-27, 25-23, 25-21) behind its blocking Wednesday night at Maples Pavilion.
“As a team, we need to grind and battle through matches like tonight,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I'm happy the guys stayed focused on that.”
BYU finished with 13.0 team blocks compared to just 4.0 for Stanford.
Gabi Garcia Fernandez paced the Cougars with 18 kills on a .333 clip to go with four blocks. Brenden Sander added 16 kills on a .387 clip and six digs. Leo Durkin set the offense with 45 assists while Erik Sikes added eight digs. Price Jarman collected eight blocks and Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga had a career-high five aces in the win.
BYU (11-4, 4-0 MPSF) scored the first point of the first set, but Stanford (3-12, 1-3 MPSF) quickly jumped out to a 7-3 lead with help from five kills. With Fernandez at the service line, the Cougars went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-8 edge. The set remained close as a pair of Fernandez kills kept BYU in front 17-15. The Cardinal then followed that up with a 3-0 rally to go up 18-17, but the Cougars countered with a 5-1 run with Fernandez again at the service line to retake the lead, 22-19. Stanford came back to tie the set from points 24-31 before a service error and Jarman block ended the set 33-31.
Back-to-back aces from Fa’agata-Tufuga gave BYU the 3-1 edge early in the second set. A Jarman kill made it 9-8 and three errors from the Cardinal kept the Cougars ahead 15-13. Stanford then took a 17-16 edge after a 4-1 run, but a Durkin and Miki Jauhiainen block gave BYU the 20-19 advantage. The Cardinal, however, scored the next four points to take a 23-20 lead. That was followed with a Sander kill that helped the Cougars even the score at 24 apiece. It wasn’t enough, however, as a kill and BYU attack error gave Stanford the close set 27-25.
Three kills from Fernandez helped the Cougars tie the third set 5-5. The Cardinal followed with the next four points to take a 9-5 lead, forcing Olmstead to take a timeout. Kills from Sander, Fernandez and Fa’agata-Tufuga brought BYU within a pair, down 13-11, and a 4-0 rally tied the set again at 15-all. A Sander kill pushed his team ahead 18-16, and a Stanford error gave the Cougars a 21-18 lead. The Cardinal rallied, scoring the next three points to tie things up once more at 21-all. BYU had the next three points, capped off by a Fernandez kill, before a Stanford service error gave the Cougars the set 25-23.
BYU jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the fourth set after several Cardinal errors. With the Cougars up 11-3, Stanford scored three-straight to make it 11-6 and force a BYU timeout. A Fernandez kill made it 15-9, and another ace from Fa’agata-Tufuga helped extend the advantage to seven at 18-11. The Cardinal rallied to get within two, trailing 21-19, but the Cougars secured the four-set victory after a service error, 25-21.
BYU will return home to compete against Stanford in a rematch at the Smith Fieldhouse Saturday, Feb. 24, at 8 p.m. MST. The match will be televised live on BYUtv.