No. 1 BYU holds off No. 10 GCU in four


PROVO, Utah – Behind double-digit kills from Gabi Garcia Fernandez and Davide Gardini, No. 1 BYU took a four-set win (26-24, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20) over No. 10 Grand Canyon, Thursday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.

Garcia Fernandez totaled a team-high 15 kills to go with two service aces and five kills while Gardini posted 14 kills with three assists, one ace and four blocks. Zach Eschenberg added 10 kills on the night with two aces and five digs. Freshman Gavin Julien posted his first career start tonight tallying two kills and a block. 

"We talk a lot with the team, it's never individual. It's all about the team and how our presence can help the team, and that showed tonight," says Gabi Garcia Fernandez "We're not robots, we have emotions too. If they see you happy they get happy, if they see you frustrated they get frustrated, we have to keep ourselves emotionally involved in the game. We help our team like that and that's how we succeed."

BYU shot out to an early lead, capitalizing on two GCU errors, making the score 3-0. Although the Cougars held the edge through the majority of the set, the Lopes capitalized on BYU errors eventually tying the game at 22-all. Both teams matched points but two GCU errors gave the Cougars the first set, 26-24.

In the second set, the Lopes fought from an early deficit of 7-3 but eventually tied the set at 10-10. GCU took its first lead of the match behind two kills but BYU quickly evened the score at 15-all. BYU pulled ahead 23-22 with a kill from Garcia Fernandez but three straight points from the Lopes gave GCU the second set, 25-23.

Despite trailing the first part of the third set, BYU fought back after going down 9-5 early. A Garcia Fernandez ace brought the score to 12-11, in the Lopes favor, but BYU ultimately tying the score at 14-all. The Cougars proceeded to go on an 11-3 run and another Garcia Fernandez ace close the set at 25-18.

The fourth set started even but BYU quickly took command with a 15-6 run to take a 23-16 lead, the largest of the match. GCU closed in bringing the score to 20-24 but a kill from Gardini gave BYU the fourth set 25-20, and ultimately the win.

The Cougars will play the second of four matches against GCU on Saturday, Feb. 20. The match is slated for a 7 p.m. start time and will be broadcast on BYUtv.