No. 2 BYU sweeps No. 13 Stanford before sellout crowd
PROVO, Utah – No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball swept No. 13 Stanford (25-12, 25-21, 25-22) on Saturday in front of a crowd of 5,817 at the Smith Fieldhouse, the highest-attended home match since 2005.
"We had some great support from our volleyball community and we've got some really loyal volleyball fans," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "Now, we're looking forward to the challenge of going on the road. We won’t be here in the Smith Fieldhouse, but volleyball is still volleyball and it’s just a different gym."
The Cougars finished with a season-high 15.5 blocks in their 16th-consecutive win of the season to remain undefeated. The 16-0 record is already the second-best start to a season in program history as well as the second-longest winning streak in the rally era.
Outside hitter Zach Eschenberg set a new career-high of six blocks while totaling eight kills, four digs and an ace. Setter Wil Stanley had five blocks to match his career-high while pacing the team with 30 assists. Opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez led all players with 12 kills and three aces. The junior has already recorded 45 aces on the season, the fifth-most aces in a season by a BYU player in the rally era, and is 11 away from breaking the school record. Middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen led the team with seven blocks and added six kills.
A pair of kills by Garcia Fernandez and an ace by Eschenberg gave BYU (16-0, 6-0 MPSF) a 7-3 lead over Stanford (6-9, 2-4 MPSF). Garcia Fernandez scored the second ace of the night during an 8-1 run for the Cougars, landing the score at 16-5. Back-to-back blocks by Stanley and Jauhiainen extended the BYU lead to 20-7. The Cougars won the set, 25-12, while logging 6.5 team blocks in the first game.
BYU took the lead early in the second set with a 5-0 run before a kill by Jauhiainen put the Cougars up 6-2. Back-to-back kills by Eschenberg on the outside extended BYU’s advantage to 13-9. Stanford tied the set up 14-14 off a Cougar attack error, but BYU quickly reclaimed the edge on a Cardinal service error. Kills by Garcia Fernandez and Eschenberg extended the Cougars’ lead to 21-17. A Jauhiainen kill ended the set to give BYU the 25-21 win.
The two teams went back and forth at the start of the third set, resulting in the scoring being tied at 8-8. The Cardinals took a two-point edge over the Cougars, 11-9. Four BYU blocks fueled an 8-0 run as BYU seized control of the game, 17-11. Garcia Fernandez’s third ace of the night landed the Cougars at 22-14 before Stanford rallied back to come within one point, 23-22. An ace by Branden Oberender ended set three, 25-22, and clinched BYU's fourth sweep in a row.
The Cougars travel to take on No. 1 Hawaii in consecutive matches next week. Both teams will be undefeated in the first match on Thursday, March 5, at 7 p.m. HST. The second match will be on Friday, March 6, at 7 p.m. HST. Both matches will be streamed live on Spectrum Sports.