No. 10 BYU men’s volleyball took down No. 3 UC Irvine 3-1 on Friday in the Smith Fieldhouse after four tightly-contested sets (20-25, 25-17, 32-30, 25-19).
“It was a total team effort for us," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "All credit to the players — they did a really nice job. I really liked what we did: We stayed competitive, served tough and passed really well.”
Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the team with 23 kills and totaled three service aces, while Davide Gardini followed close behind with 21 kills and added four block assists. Both Garcia Fernandez and Gardini recorded seven digs during the night. In Cyrus Fa’alogo’s first start at setter this season, he totaled 46 assists, doubling his former career-high. Junior Zach Eschenberg had his best outing as Cougar with an all-around stat line of four kills, five digs and four blocks, all career highs.
The Cougars and the Anteaters battled back and forth in the first set, matching each other at 15. Garcia Fernandez’s third kill of the night gave BYU a 2-point advantage at 18-16, but UC Irvine fought back to gain a 21-18 lead soon after. Three consecutive kills by the Anteaters gave them the first set, 25-20.
Junior Andrew Lincoln pushed back in the next set with two service aces to give BYU a 3-1 lead. Four kills by Gardini and one by Eschenberg allowed BYU some breathing room with a 6-point lead at 14-8, forcing UC Irvine to take a timeout. Following the break, kills by Garcia Fernandez, Gardini and Eschenberg increased the gap, 20-12. A final kill by Miki Jauhiainen and an attack error on UCI's Aaron Koubi rewarded BYU second-set victory at 25-17.
Both teams put on the pressure in the third set, trading points until another kill by Garcia Fernandez helped BYU break out and take their first 2-point lead of the set, 14-12. After back and forth points, the Anteaters reclaimed the advantage late in the set, bringing the score to 24-23, but a service error kept them from taking the win. Neither team gave in and the set was tied again at 30 before the Cougars claimed the set with a score of 32-30.2 comments on this story
The Cougars kept the foot on the gas in the fourth set, taking a 12-7 lead after an error on UCI. Back-to-back kills by Garcia Fernandez and Gardini pushed BYU further ahead, 14-9, while Jauhiainen joined in to bring them up 20-14. Three consecutive points by the Anteaters didn’t discourage the Cougars as Garcia Fernandez and Gardini added a pair of kills to bring them to match point and Garcia Fernandez finished off the match with a 25-19 win in the fourth set.
BYU faces UC Irvine again at home in the Smith Fieldhouse tomorrow night at 7 p.m. MST. The match will be streamed live on TheW.tv and live stats can be found on the schedule page.