Men’s volleyball ends season in MPSF semifinal loss to Pepperdine

Dani Jardine
Sophomore Gabi Garcia Fernandez looks onward. Garcia Fernandez led all Cougars during the 2018-19 season with 380 kills, 32 service aces and 132 digs. (Dani Jardine)

BYU men’s volleyball ended its 2019 season with a straight-set loss to the No. 1 seeded Pepperdine Waves (25-17, 25-23, 25-18) in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation semifinals on April 18 in Malibu, California.

The Cougars faced Pepperdine twice earlier in the season, once in Malibu losing in three sets and once in Provo winning in four. BYU couldn’t find a way to defeat the Waves on Pepperdine’s home court.

In the past, the Cougars have hosted the first round and/or ranked as the No. 1 seed. This year, they came into the tournament as the No. 5 seed. This season was different for two reasons: youth and injuries. The team still had a good season despite the trials it faced.

In the semifinals, the Cougars had a slow start. After losing the first set, they played a much closer second set. However, the Waves shut them down again in the third.

Both sophomore Gabi Garcia Fernandez and freshman Davide Gardini tallied 10 kills and four digs. Junior Miki Jauhiainen had four blocks and freshman Brody Earnest acquired 20 assists.

At the beginning of the first set, the lead was swaying back and forth between the Cougars and the Waves. Pepperdine took a hold of the set with a 5-0 run that gave it a 22-14 lead. This lead was too much for BYU to bounce back from.

In the second set, the Cougars were down 20-15 but fought the Waves to a close score of 23-22. They lost the set 25-23 and went on to the third.

Despite playing a close match in the second set, the Cougars were unable to defeat the Waves. Pepperdine gained a 19-11 lead and BYU ended up losing the set 25-18 and ultimately the match.

BYU had a .217 hit percentage while Pepperdine hit almost double that at .394. The Waves’ top hitters were Michael Wexter with 12 kills and MPSF Player of the Year David Wieczorek with 16.

The Cougars look forward to their 2020 season as entire team will be returning except for lone senior Taylor Richards.

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