MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Gabi Garcia Fernandez recorded a career-high eight aces as No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball swept Mount Olive (25-17, 25-10, 25-22) in Kornegay Arena on Friday.
"The best part about tonight’s match was Cougar Nation showing up in full force," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "It was an amazing experience for our guys and we were so fortunate tonight to have their support and their energy."
Garcia Fernandez served seven or more aces in a single match for the second time this season as he improved on his seven-ace performance against No. 6 Lewis. The All-American’s eight aces mark just the third time in the BYU rally era that a player has recorded eight or more aces in a match. Taylor Sander was the last player to do so after finishing with a program-record nine aces against UC San Diego in 2014. With 102 career aces, Garcia Fernandez also moved up to third on the school’s top 10 all-time list. The opposite hitter also contributed 10 kills, six digs and a pair of blocks in the victory.
After garnering back-to-back MPSF weekly honors, Davide Gardini continued his exceptional play as he totaled 15 kills on a .684 clip while adding six digs, four blocks and an ace. Branden Oberender led the team with a career-high six blocks while Brody Earnest paced the team with 28 assists. The Cougars finished with 10 aces to reach double figures in aces for the third time in five matches.
After Mount Olive (4-2) scored the first two points of the game, BYU (5-0) answered with three consecutive points behind a kill by Gardini and an ace by Garcia Fernandez. Garcia Fernandez added two kills of his own as the Cougars capitalized on Trojan errors to take a 12-8 advantage. Garcia Fernandez added two more aces to fuel a 6-0 run to make the score 18-8. Back-to-back kills by Garcia Fernandez and a kill by Gardini helped BYU close out the first set, 25-17.
The Cougars remained in control at the start of the second game jumping out to a 7-3 lead behind two more Garcia Fernandez kills. The opposite hitter remained a force from the service line as he dropped five more aces to spark a 13-0 run as BYU took a commanding 20-5 lead. Alex Ah Sue ended the set with a kill to give the Cougars the 25-10 win.
The third set was much more competitive than the previous two as the game featured 10 ties and five lead changes. The two teams battled early, exchanging points as neither team could pull away from the other. Mount Olive briefly took a two-point lead before two kills by Gardini helped BYU score three-straight points to reclaim the lead, 11-10. The set continued to go back and forth before Gardini connected on three kills to give the Cougars an 18-14 advantage. The Trojans closed the gap late in the set before two kills by Gardini closed the door on the comeback to secure the 25-22 win.
BYU will face Mount Olive again on Saturday, Jan. 18, in Kornegay Arena at 1 p.m. EST. The match will be streamed live on Conference Carolinas Digital Network.