The play of Gabi Garcia Fernandez and Brenden Sander helped No. 6 BYU men’s volleyball past No. 14 Ball State in four sets (25-19, 16-25, 25-15, 25-20) Friday night at Worthen Arena.
“I'm happy for the team on a good road win,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “It was a nice team effort on our part to stay the course after losing the second set.”
Sander led the Cougars in kills with 17 on a .452 clip, while Fernandez collected 13 kills on a .458 hitting percentage, a career-high 11 digs and a career-high three aces. Leo Durkin set the team with 38 assists to go with eight digs. Miki Jauhiainen had five blocks and Price Jarman added seven kills on a .538 clip in the win.
A kill from Jauhiainen helped BYU (2-1) take a 4-2 advantage early in the first set against Ball State (2-1). A Jarman overpass kill capped off a 3-1 Cougar run to increase the lead to three at 13-10. Back-to-back Sander kills made it 17-14, and a back-row Sander attack pushed the lead to four, 22-18. An ace from Fernandez brought up set point at 24-19, and a Fernandez kill gave BYU the set, 25-19.
Four-straight errors from the Cardinals to start the second set put the Cougars ahead 4-1, forcing a timeout from Ball State. A Jarman kill made it 10-6 BYU, but the Cardinals countered with a 4-0 run to even the score at 10-all. Another Ball State rally, this time 7-1, pushed the Cardinals in front by four, 17-13. Ball State cruised from there, taking the set, 25-16, to even the score.
A trio of Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga kills and an ace helped the Cougars take an 8-4 lead in the third set. BYU stayed ahead, 14-9, with another kill from Fa’agata-Tufuga, and a pair of Sander kills extended the advantage to seven at 19-12. Two errors from the Cardinals and an ace from Fernandez then gave the Cougars the set, 25-15.
BYU had a 4-2 lead to open up the fourth set, but Ball State scored the next three points to take a 5-4 edge. The set remained close until another Fa’agata-Tufuga kill pushed the Cougars ahead 13-11. The teams remained within two points of each other until an attack error from the Cardinals made it 22-19 for BYU. One final dig and kill from Fernandez then ended the set and match, 25-20, for the Cougars.
BYU stays on the road next, traveling to Columbus, Ohio, to face off against No. 1 Ohio State at St. John Arena on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. EST.
Royce Hinton is the men's and women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.