Garcia Fernandez takes over in the fifth to beat Princeton
PROVO, Utah – Gabi Garcia Fernandez recorded seven kills in the fifth set to lead No. 7/8 BYU men’s volleyball to a five-set win over Princeton at the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday (19-25, 25-14, 22-25, 25-21, 15-10).
Garcia Fernandez scored on three attack attempts to help give BYU a 6-3 advantage to start the fifth set. Princeton tied the set up at 6-all on back-to-back aces. Andrew Lincoln and Fernandez each each recorded kills to help the Cougars go up 10-7. Garcia Fernandez then capped off the comeback with three straight kills to win the set 15-10.
"Hats off entirely to Princeton – what a battle from those guys," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "I liked their attitude, their mindset and their approach to this match. They put it on us for a good part of this match and they were never out of it. We have to come out with a better mindset from the start and be a little tougher from the get-go."
Garcia Fernandez earned a team-high 22 kills on a .439 clip. Miki Jauhiainen recorded three services aces to tie his career best while also adding four total blocks. Felipe de Brito Ferreira earned a match-high 10 total blocks and Cyrus Fa’alogo led the team with 19 assists.
Jauhiainen gave BYU an early 2-0 lead with a service ace on the Cougars’ first serve of the match. Both teams traded points before Princeton used a six-point run to take a 10-5 advantage. A kill from Zach Eschenberg and five Tiger errors closed the gap to 12-11 before Princeton quickly re-extended its lead to 23-17. Garcia Fernandez earned two late kills, but the comeback came up short, with the Tigers taking the first set 25-19.
Jauhiainen and Gardini each recorded aces as BYU jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the second set. Lincoln recorded back-to-back kills to push the Cougars’ lead to 11-5. Jauhiainen earned his second service ace of the set to put BYU up 15-7. Brody Earnest scored the Cougars’ fourth ace of the set before a Garcia Fernandez kill and Princeton errors gave BYU the set 25-14.
Garcia Fernandez began the third set with two kills, giving the Cougars a 3-1 advantage. The Tigers took advantage of BYU errors and recorded three aces on their way to taking a commanding 13-5 lead. Garcia Fernandez added two more kills as the Cougars capitalized on Princeton errors to assist in cutting the deficit to 21-18. A block from Fa’alogo and Jauhiainen closed the Tigers’ lead to two points before Princeton took the set 25-22.
Kills from de Brito Ferreira, Garcia Fernandez and Gardini put BYU up 8-3 in the fourth set. Princeton came back to bring the score within two points, 15-13, before tying the game at 19-all. Garcia Fernandez recorded his fifth and sixth kills of the set to help BYU pull away 24-21. Lincoln and Jauhiainen blocked a Tiger attack attempt to clinch the fourth set 25-21 for the Cougars.
The Cougars will continue to host the BYU Invite and will compete next against McKendree at 7 p.m. MDT on Friday, March 22, at the Smith Fieldhouse. The match will be broadcast on TheW.tv and live stats can be found on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.