COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a rematch of last season’s NCAA title match, No. 6 BYU men’s volleyball upset No. 1 Ohio State in five sets (21-25, 25-21, 25-20, 21-25, 15-8) behind team play Saturday night at St. John Arena.
"This was a fun match to be a part of from start to finish," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "I'm proud of how the team responded after the first set to come back and get the win."
Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the Cougars with 19 kills and six blocks. Leo Durkin had 42 assists and Erik Sikes contributed eight digs. Brenden Sander collected 12 kills, Price Jarman added nine kills and Miki Jauhiainen had six blocks in the win.
BYU (3-1) collected the first three points of the decisive fifth set from Fernandez and Sander kills and a Fernandez ace. Ohio State (2-1) quickly evened the score at 4-4, however, following a block. The Cougars again took the lead at 10-5 following a 5-0 run, before running away with the set and match, 15-8.
Ohio State jumped out to a 7-4 lead early in the first set after a BYU attack error. A Fernandez ace brought the Cougars back within a point, down 10-9, but the Buckeyes scored six of the next eight points to go up by five, 16-11. A slew of Ohio State service errors kept BYU in the set as a 4-1 Cougar run brought BYU back within two, 20-18, forcing a timeout from the Buckeyes. Ohio State quickly regrouped, winning 25-21 after hitting .739 for the set.
Back-to-back Fernandez kills gave the Cougars a 2-1 edge to start the second set. Kills from Durkin and Sander then increased the BYU lead to 7-4. The Cougars led by as many as four, 10-6, before the Buckeyes got within a point, 13-12, on an ace. BYU rattled off the next three points, capped off by a Jauhiainen and Fernandez block, to take a 16-12 lead. Ohio State took its final timeout of the set before the Cougars jumped ahead 23-16. The Buckeyes scored the next three points, but BYU took the set, 25-21, on an Ohio State service error.
A Fernandez block and kill pushed the Cougars ahead, 6-5, at the beginning of the third set. That was followed with a 5-0 BYU run to put the Cougars up 11-7. A kill from Sander kept BYU in front, 17-13, and then again at 19-16, but the Buckeyes rallied to get within a point, down 19-18. Kills by Andrew Lincoln and Fernandez made it 22-19, and a Sander kill ended the set, 25-20, for the Cougars.
The fourth set opened up tightly contested as a trio of Fernandez kills gave BYU a 6-5 edge. A Durkin and Jarman block put the Cougars up 10-9, and an Ohio State attack error made it 15-13. The Buckeyes then went on a 6-0 run to take a 19-15 advantage before ultimately taking the set, 25-21, forcing the decisive fifth set.
The Cougars return home to the Smith Fieldhouse next, facing Barton on Friday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. MST. The match will be televised live on BYUtv. Additional information can be found on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.
Royce Hinton is the men's and women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.