No. 2 BYU stays undefeated after defeating No. 5 UC Irvine
IRVINE, Calif. – Four Cougars reached double figures in kills to lead No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball to its eighth-straight victory with a four-set win over No. 5 UC Irvine (28-30, 27-25, 25-17, 27-25) on Friday.
"Overall, it was a really exciting match to be a part of toward the end of January," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "It was fun for our guys to experience that type of match against a good opponent. I really like how we responded after losing the first set. There is a lot that we can learn from these competitive matches early in the season that will benefit us in the long run."
Four BYU players recorded double-digit kills for the first time since 2012. Three Cougars also finished with double-doubles. Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the way with 22 kills, 11 digs, four aces and four blocks while Davide Gardini totaled 16 kills, 12 digs and four blocks. Zach Eschenberg finished with a career-high 14 kills on a .444 clip with six digs and four blocks. Felipe de Brito Ferreira recorded 10 kills on a .833 hitting percentage and had four blocks. Wil Stanley finished with his second consecutive double-double with a career-high 57 assists and 12 digs while also setting a career record with five blocks.
Garcia Fernandez connected on three kills to lead BYU (8-0) to a 9-5 advantage over UC Irvine (3-3) in the first game. The Anteaters outscored the Cougars 7-2 to take their first lead of the set, 12-11. Gardini tied the score at 12-all with a kill before UC Irvine took advantage of a few BYU service errors to make the score 18-15. A Gardini kill and a few Anteater errors evened the score at 20-20. Kills by Gardini and Eschenberg as well as an ace by Garcia Fernandez fueled a 4-0 run to make it set point, 24-21. UC Irvine answered, scoring four-straight points to take a one-point advantage before a kill by de Brito Ferreira tied the game at 25-all. The two teams continued to exchange points with the Anteaters by clinching the first game with back-to-back blocks, 30-28.
Eschenberg had three consecutive kills as both teams continued to go back and forth to start the second set. The battle continued as neither team could gain much separation. Four kills by Garcia Fernandez late in the second game helped BYU take a 19-18 advantage. UC Irvine quickly regained the advantage, bringing the score to 20-19. The Cougars reclaimed control 22-21 after two consecutive Anteater errors. After UC Irvine tied the set at 25-all, another Anteater error followed by a Garcia Fernandez kill gave BYU the 27-25 win.
A pair of aces and a kill by Garcia Fernandez sparked a 5-0 BYU run to open the third set. Back-to-back kills by Gardini extended the lead to seven points, 12-5. A block by Eschenberg, Garcia Fernandez and Miki Jauhiainen followed by an Eschenberg kill increased the advantage to 15-6. The Cougars continued to pull away with kills by Garcia Fernandez and Gardini making the score 18-7. De Brito Ferreira had three kills before Garcia Fernandez put down a kill to end the set, 25-17.
Trailing UC Irvine 5-2, two kills by Eschenberg fueled a 6-1 run to take an 8-6 edge. The Anteaters outscored the Cougars 9-4 to claim the lead, 15-12. Garcia Fernandez had consecutive kills to retake the lead 19-18. The Anteaters fought back to take a 24-23 advantage. BYU closed out the match to remain undefeated with kills by Garcia Fernandez, Gardini and Eschenberg to win the set, 27-25.
The Cougars will return home to host No. 3 UC Santa Barbara in a pair of matches at the Smith Fieldhouse. The two teams will first meet on Friday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. MST before playing the second match on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 6 p.m. Both matches will be televised live on BYUtv as well as streamed on BYUtv.org and the BYUtv App.
No. 12 BYU men’s volleyball handed No. 6 UC Irvine its first loss of the season, 3-2 (26-24, 21-25, 25-22, 19-25, 15-9…