The BYU men's volleyball season came to an end Thursday night in Malibu, California, with a straight-set loss to Pepperdine (25-17, 25-23, 25-18) in the semifinal round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
The Cougars experienced extraordinary struggles throughout the 2019 season, and entered the tournament on the road as the No. 5 seed in the seven-team conference. Most years have seen the Cougars host not only the first round, but the entire tournament as a No. 1 seed.
But the 2019 season proved an outlier for a variety of reasons, starting with the team's relative youth and ending with injury issues, with the injury of setter Wil Stanley perhaps proving the most debilitating.
On Thursday the Cougars started slow, came up just in the second set before ultimately folding in the third. Leading the way again was the play of sophomore Gabi Garcia Fernandez and freshman Davide Gardini, each of whom scored 10 kills.
The Cougars traded blows with the Waves for the first part of the second set before a 5-0 run late gave the home team a 22-14 lead, which was never overcome.
The second set saw BYU overcome a 20-15 lead to pull to within 23-22 before losing out 25-23. The tight loss may have carried over to a third set, which had the Cougars trailing throughout and unable to overcome a big 19-11 Pepperdine lead before losing the set by seven points.4 comments on this story
For the match the Cougars hit for a .217 percentage, which paled in comparison to Pepperdine's stellar .394. Leading the hits for the Waves was David Wieczorek with 16 kills and Michael Wexter, who added 12.
With an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament not forthcoming, the Cougars will now look forward to the 2020 season where they could very well show improvement considering who is returning. The Cougars return everyone save Taylor Richards from their talented roster and should see improvements as a result.