BYU men’s volleyball traded wins and losses with the Stanford in a hard-fought two-game matchup. The Cougars won the first match 3-2 but lost the second 3-1.
In the first game’s most climactic moment, BYU senior Taylor Richards dove headlong into the hardwood to save the play with a pancake. BYU rallied to win the play and the next, edging out Stanford in one of the toughest wins for the team this season.
“I remember telling other player, ‘Give everything you got,’” Richards said. “So I had to give my everything as well. I couldn’t be a hypocrite, so I went for it.”
The libero lived up to his late-game admonition throughout the entire match, leading his team in digs, with a total of eight throughout the game. Richards has a career total of 42 assists.
Richards isn’t the only one who’s glad the team pulled through. Head coach Shawn Olmstead was also relieved by the team’s comeback.
“To be able to rebound and find a way to win and continue battling, that’s what it comes down to,” Olmstead said. “To get this kind of an effort where you come from behind, you have to be pretty happy with it.”
BYU had been trailing the entire game, winning the second, fourth, and fifth sets. Most of the sets saw the Cougars trailing by one or two points until the latter part of the set. Despite this, the BYU men always seemed to make the proper adjustments just when they needed them.
“We could have made some of those adjustments a little earlier but we definitely made them at the right time,” Olmstead said. “We dug deep a few times to create some energy and make some plays.”
Two other standout players for BYU were freshman Davide Gardini and junior Wil Stanley. Gardini scored a career-high number of kills with 22 total. This surpassed the team’s usual leading scorer, sophomore Gabi Garcia Fernandez who, despite intense defense from Stanford, was held to 13 kills.
Stanley stood out once again as a prolific setter, creating the opportunities his teammates needed to score. Stanley provided 54 of the team’s 57 total assists.
“I really was just trying to find the guy who’s ready to go,” Stanley said. “We played a good game but I think we could do better.”
The second game of the series saw the Cardinals avenge their Thursday night loss with a dominant Saturday night win.
The Cougars were only able to successfully clinch the third set, 25-22, while Stanford won the first, second, and fourth sets, 25-20, 25-20, and 25-21, respectively.
While offensive standouts Gardini and Garcia Fernandez stood out once again with 13 kills apiece, their efforts ultimately were unable to overcome the Cardinal’s offensive effort.
Gardini had an impressive all-around showing, contributing five blocks, and 10 digs alongside his 13 kills.
While both teams had comparable attack attempts, 115 for the Cougars and 122 for the Cardinals, the Cardinals were successful more often. Stanford experienced a 34 percent hitting success rate compared to BYU’s 30 percent hitting success rate.