BYU sweeps Pepperdine for MPSF Championship
PROVO, Utah — No. 1 seed BYU men’s volleyball won the 2021 MPSF Tournament championship with a straight-set victory over No. 3 Pepperdine (25-23, 25-15, 25-19) Saturday night at the Smith Fieldhouse. The conference tournament title is BYU's eighth in program history and first since 2018.
“I’m just proud, happy, excited and ecstatic for our guys,” said BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead. “We’ve been through a lot. Hats off to Pepperdine, they gave us all we could handle. It means the world to be able to pull off a championship in this venue in front of our fans.”
Gabi Garcia Fernandez was named the MPSF Tournament Most Valuable Player while Wil Stanley and Zach Eschenberg were named to the all-tournament team.
Eschenberg paced the Cougars (19-3) with a match-high 13 kills on a .550 clip to go along with two blocks, two digs and an ace versus the Waves (13-6). Garcia Fernandez tallied 10 kills, four blocks, four digs and three aces while Davide Gardini had seven kills, three blocks and a dig.
Felipe de Brito Ferreira contributed a match-high seven blocks, six kills and a season-high .857 hitting percentage for BYU, while Miki Jauhiainen recorded five kills and four blocks. Wil Stanley posted a match-high 38 assists, six digs, five blocks and a kill.
The Cougars posted a .471 hitting percentage and limited Pepperdine to a .185 clip. BYU had 13 blocks on the night while Pepperdine had none.
The opening set started back and forth, with a block and a kill by Jauhiainen followed by an Eschenberg kill down the line, putting BYU up 9-8. Another kill from Eschenberg and a Gardini block gave the Cougars a 12-10 lead before a 3-0 Pepperdine run put the Waves up 13-12. Garcia Fernandez tallied back-to-back aces later in the set as BYU took a 19-17 advantage. Pepperdine then tied things up at 19 before both teams traded points back and forth, with kills from de Brito Ferreira and Eschenberg knotting the set at 23-all. An Eschenberg kill in the backcourt followed by a de Brito Ferreira solo block then gave the Cougars set one, 25-23.
BYU started the second set on fire, taking an 8-0 lead following a Jauhiainen ace, a pair of Eschenberg kills and a block by de Brito Ferreira. The Cougars maintained a comfortable lead, as a Wil Stanley dump kill and a Gardini kill from the back row put BYU up 14-6. A pair of blocks and a kill by de Brito Ferreira gave the Cougars an 18-9 advantage before a pair of kills from Jauhiainen put BYU up 20-11. The Cougars finished sealed the dominant 25-15 set win with kills by de Brito Ferreira, Eschenberg and Gardini.
BYU took a 7-4 advantage with an ace and a kill from Garcia Fernandez and a kill by Gardini. Pepperdine tied the set at seven before a pair of kills by Eschenberg and one from Garcia Fernandez gave the Cougars a 12-9 lead. Eschenberg and de Brito Ferreira each tallied a kill as BYU went up 17-14, forcing a Pepperdine timeout. Eshenberg notched another kill off a deep pass from Wil Stanley before Garcia Fernandez added a pair of kills to give the Cougars a 21-16 lead. BYU finished off the set, 25-19, with another pair of Garcia Fernandez kills and a Gardini block.
The Cougars will receive the conference’s automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio. The bracket reveal will take place on Sunday, April 24, at 11 a.m. MDT and will be streamed live on NCAA.com.