PROVO, Utah — No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball lost their first match of the season, falling to No. 8 UCLA (22-25, 21-25, 25-15, 22-25) Thursday.
For the first time since 2009, the Cougars failed to defend the Fieldhouse against the Bruins. Reflecting on the loss, BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said, “I felt like we played as if we were surprised that there was a team that fought hard against us. That's what I perceived and that's what we felt... they deserved to win tonight.”
Gabi Garcia Fernandez finished with a team-high 16 kills. Felipe de Brito Ferreira added nine kills and Zach Eschenberg tallied seven kills of his own. Freshman setter Zeo Meyer recorded 32 assists, Miki Jauhiainen had three service aces, and Ferreira finished with six blocks, all team highs. UCLA hit .237 on the night to BYU’s .168. The Cougars finished with 42 kills while the Bruins finished with 34, and UCLA had 25 service errors to BYU’s 24.
The Cougars got started with an opening kill by Davide Gardini, taking an early 7-3 lead on three kills by Garcia Fernandez and one from Eschenberg. The Bruins went on a run, drawing with one, at 11-10, but a Ferreira kill and block put BYU up 13-10. A Gardini ace gave the Cougars a 15-11 lead and forced a UCLA timeout. Gardini followed up with a kill out of the timeout, but the Bruins clawed back and once again drew within one, at 16-15. Ferreira recorded a kill to break a 19-19 tie before UCLA took their first lead of the set at 21-20. Fernandez put an end to the Bruin run with a thunderous kill, and Eschenberg followed with another one, making it 23-22, UCLA, but the Bruins won the next two points, taking set one, 25-22.
Gardini opened the second set in similar fashion to the first, with a kill. The Cougars then took a 3-1 lead thanks to an ace by Eschenberg and a kill by Fernandez. Fernandez got a kill to slide through a single block before the teams went back-and-forth. Knotted up at 12-all, Gardini served an ace off the tape and Ferreira landed a kill in the middle. BYU then held a 16-15 advantage after two Bruins service errors. Tied at 18, UCLA took a 20-18 lead before the teams traded service errors. A Meyer joust at the net brought the Cougars within one, but the Bruins went ahead 23-20, leading to a BYU timeout. After BYU made it 24-21, UCLA took the next point to win the set 25-21, and take a commanding 2-0 lead.
The Cougars took the first point of the set for the third set in a row on a Jauhiainen kill, going up 3-0 after back-to-back aces by Jauhiainen. BYU then opened up a 6-0 lead thanks to an errant Bruin hit, a Gardini kill, and a Ferreira kill off an overpass that forced a UCLA timeout. The Cougars got a block by Ferreira and Fernandez before UCLA scored their first point, 7-1. Fernandez notched two kills as BYU raced out to a 13-4 lead. The Cougars doubled up the Bruins, 16-8, on another Fernandez kill, and took a 17-8 advantage into a timeout after a Ferreira block. BYU went up 22-10 after kills by Eschenberg and Ferreira. Leading 23-14, Eschenberg got another kill and the Cougars took the set on a UCLA service error, 25-15.
BYU opened with a 2-1 lead after a kill by Ferreira down the middle, but then fell behind before Gardini recorded a kill and Ferreira got a block, making it 7-5, Bruins. UCLA took a 10-6 lead, forcing a Cougar timeout. The teams then rallied, with the Bruins holding a 16-13 advantage. BYU called another timeout down 19-14, but got back in it with an Eschenberg kill. UCLA then led 22-17 before a Fernandez kill got the Cougars within four, but a service error by Jauhiainen had the Bruins two points away from winning the match. Two kills from Ferreira, a UCLA hitting error and overpass kill by Eschenberg then made it 24-22, Bruins, but UCLA would win it on a Gardini service error, 25-22.
The Cougars are set to face the Bruins again on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. MST in the Smith Fieldhouse. The match will be televised on BYUtv and streamed on the BYUtv app. Until further notice, only family members are allowed to attend home matches and must provide a photo ID in order to attend.