Garcia Fernandez, Olmstead headline BYU’s eight MPSF honors
WOODLAND, Calif. – BYU men’s volleyball junior opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez was named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Year and head coach Shawn Olmstead received MPSF Coach of the Year, the conference announced Thursday.
Garcia Fernandez was one of four Cougars named to the All-MPSF First Team, joining senior setter Wil Stanley, junior middle blocker Felipe de Brito Ferreira and sophomore outside hitter Davide Gardini. Senior outside hitter Zach Eschenberg was also named to the All-MPSF Second Team and senior middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen received All-MPSF honorable mention honors.
Olmstead coached the Cougars to a 17-1 record, the highest winning percentage (.944) in the country, and ended the shortened season No. 1 in the AVCA national poll. The team’s 17-straight wins to open the season marked the second-best start in program history. BYU boasted a 12-1 record against ranked opponents while playing the toughest schedule in the country with a .678 cumulative opponent winning percentage. The Cougars led the country in blocking with 2.95 blocks per set while leading the MPSF in hitting (.358), opponent hitting (.231), kills per set (12.97) and assists per set (12.14). Olmstead has now been named the MPSF Coach of the Year three times in his five years as the BYU head coach.
A two-time All-American and a three-time All-MPSF First Team selection, Garcia Fernandez averaged 5.46 points per set and .918 aces per set to lead the NCAA in both categories. Even with six regular season matches and the postseason canceled due to COVID-19, the junior managed to tally 56 aces to break the BYU single-season aces record. He finished third in the league with 4.00 kills per set while ranking fourth in both blocks per set (1.00) and hitting percentage (.343). Garcia Fernandez ended the year with 244 kills, 93 digs and 61 blocks. This is the fifth time a BYU player has been named MPSF Player of the Year in program history.
Stanley averaged 10.74 assists per set to pace the conference and rank third nationally to make his first appearance on an All-MPSF team. The setter’s 655 assists helped the Cougars rank second in the NCAA with a .358 hitting percentage. The two-time MPSF Defensive Player of the Week also totaled 107 digs, 42 blocks and nine aces in 61 sets.
One season after being named the 2019 MPSF Freshman of the Year, Gardini put together a strong sophomore campaign to be named to the All-MPSF First Team. The outside hitter recorded 231 kills while finishing the year with an efficient hitting percentage of .370. He also led the team with 126 digs while totaling 58 blocks and 16 aces.
De Brito Ferreira averaged 1.28 blocks per set across 39 sets before suffering an injury that caused him to miss five matches before the remainder of the season was canceled. The middle blocker started 12 matches and hit .426 while connecting for 62 kills. The junior has now been an All-MPSF selection all three years at BYU.
Eschenberg’s breakout senior season earned him a spot on the All-MPSF Second Team. The outside hitter finished with 132 kills, 72 digs, 35 blocks and 12 aces. Fellow senior Jauhiainen received his first All-MPSF selection after leading the team with 72 blocks while ranking ninth in the NCAA with an average of 1.14 blocks per set. The middle blocker also added 61 kills and 21 digs to his season stat line.
For a full list of MPSF honorees, visit mpsports.org