No. 6 BYU men’s volleyball rallied past Stanford in four sets (33-31, 25-27, 25-23, 25-21) behind its blocking Wednesday night at Maples Pavilion.
“As a team, we need to grind and battle through matches like tonight,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I'm happy the guys stayed focused on that.”
As a team, BYU finished with 13.0 team blocks compared to just 4.0 for Stanford.
Gabi Garcia Fernandez paced the Cougars with 18 kills on a .333 clip to go with four blocks. Brenden Sander added 16 kills on a .387 clip and six digs. Leo Durkin set the offense with 45 assists, while Erik Sikes added eight digs. Price Jarman collected eight blocks and Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga had a career-high five aces in the win.
BYU (11-4, 4-0 MPSF) scored the first point of the first set, but Stanford (3-12, 1-3 MPSF) quickly jumped out to a 7-3 lead with help from five kills. With Fernandez at the service line, the Cougars went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-8 edge. The set remained close as a pair of Fernandez kills kept BYU in front, 17-15. The Cardinal then followed that up with a 3-0 rally to go up 18-17, but the Cougars countered with a 5-1 run with Fernandez again at the service line to retake the lead, 22-19. Stanford came back to tie the set from points 24-31 before a service error and Jarman block ended the set, 33-31.
Back-to-back aces from Fa’agata-Tufuga gave BYU the 3-1 edge early in the second set. A Jarman kill made it 9-8, and three errors from the Cardinal kept the Cougars ahead, 15-13. Stanford then took a 17-16 edge after a 4-1 run, but a Durkin and Miki Jauhiainen block gave BYU the 20-19 advantage. The Cardinal, however, scored the next four points to take a 23-20 lead. That was followed with a Sander kill that helped the Cougars even the score at 24-apiece. It wasn’t enough, however, as a kill and BYU attack error gave Stanford the close set, 27-25.
Three kills from Fernandez helped the Cougars tie the third set at 5-5. The Cardinal followed with the next four points to take a 9-5 lead, forcing Olmstead to take a timeout. Kills from Sander, Fernandez and Fa’agata-Tufuga brought BYU within a pair, down 13-11, and a 4-0 rally tied the set again at 15-all. A Sander kill pushed his team ahead, 18-16, and a Stanford error gave the Cougars a 21-18 lead. The Cardinal rallied, scoring the next three points to tie things up once more at 21-all. BYU had the next three points, capped off by a Fernandez kill, before a Stanford service error gave the Cougars the set, 25-23.
BYU jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the fourth set after several Cardinal errors. With the Cougars up 11-3, Stanford scored three straight to make it 11-6 and force a BYU timeout. A Fernandez kill made it 15-9, and another ace from Fa’agata-Tufuga helped extend the advantage to seven at 18-11. The Cardinal rallied to get within two, trailing 21-19, but the Cougars secured the four-set victory after a service error, 25-21.
BYU now returns home to compete against Stanford in a rematch at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 8 p.m. MST. The match will be televised live on BYUtv.
Royce Hinton is the men's and women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.