Cougars fall to Bruins in three in final regular-season match
LOS ANGELES – No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball fell to No. 5 UCLA in straight sets (25-21, 25-23, 25-22) Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion to conclude regular-season play.
"Hats off to UCLA for a well-played match," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "They came out and executed better than us tonight."
Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the Cougars with 14 kills on a .435 clip and five digs. Zach Hendrickson collected five digs and Leo Durkin had 19 assists. Felipe de Brito Ferreira added three blocks and Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga contributed nine kills on a .400 clip.
UCLA (22-6, 9-3 MPSF) jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the first set after several BYU (20-6, 10-2 MPSF) errors. The Cougars then called timeout, trailing 15-8 after a 4-1 Bruin run. An ace from Fernandez got BYU back within four, down 20-16, but it wasn’t enough as UCLA won the set 25-21 on a block.
A block and kill from Brenden Sander pushed the Cougars out to a 5-2 advantage in the second set. The Bruins got back within one, down 7-6, after a block, but BYU scored the next three points to stay ahead 10-6. UCLA then went on a 6-1 rally to take a 13-12 edge. A pair of Fa’agata-Tufuga kills evened things up at 17-all, but the Bruins took a 22-19 lead after scoring five of the next seven points. The Cougars staved off three set points before UCLA eventually took the set 25-23 after a kill.
The Bruins took a 6-1 lead early in the third set after a handful of BYU errors and an ace. A Sander kill brought the Cougars back within two, down 10-8, but UCLA pushed things back to four at 16-12. A Fernandez ace capped off a 3-1 BYU run to get his team back within a pair, 20-18. The run didn't last as a service error gave the Bruins the set and match 25-22.
The Cougars next compete at home as the No. 1 seed in the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m. MDT. The match will be televised live by BYUtv.