No. 2 BYU Men’s Volleyball remains undefeated after victories over No. 3 UCSB

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No. 2 BYU Men’s Volleyball defeated No. 3 University of California, Santa Barbara in four sets (25-16, 21-25, 25-21, 25-17) on Friday, Jan. 31 in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars secured another victory against the Gauchos on Saturday, Feb. 1, in five sets (23-25, 25-22, 20-25, 28-26, 15-11).

BYU’s record is now 10-0 after its games against UCSB.

“You know, they had us on our heels for a lot of that match, so I was proud of the guys and the way they responded,” coach Shawn Olmstead said after Friday’s match.

Wil Stanley totaled 42 assists on Friday, giving him a career total of 978 assists and moving him to 10th on BYU’s all-time career assists list. Gabi Garcia Fernandez totaled 18 kills and moved up to 10th on BYU’s all-time career kills list with 918 career kills.

“That’s just what I do; I’ve come out to help the team the best way I can,” Garcia Fernandez said after his error-free game on Friday. “If it’s error-free, well, that’s amazing for the team.”

BYU and UCSB meet at the net to shake hands prior to BYU’s 3-1 win over the Gaucho’s on Jan. 31. (Hannah Miner)

BYU gained its first big lead of Friday’s match thanks to back-to-back aces by Garcia Fernandez, which brought the score to 15-10. Set one featured five aces from BYU, including two from freshman Jon Stanley and one from Felipe de Brito Ferreira. An ace from Jon Stanley started the Cougars on a six-point run, giving BYU a 10-point lead and bringing the score to 23-13. The set finished with a kill from Garcia Fernandez and a final set score of 25-16.

UCSB scored the first point of the second set and maintained a lead for most of the set. A block by Miki Jauhiainen and Garcia Fernandez narrowed the Gauchos’ lead and brought BYU within one point. UCSB had 14 kills during this set, while BYU had nine. Service errors by UCSB gave BYU eight points, but UCSB ultimately pulled away with a 25-21 win.

BYU and UCSB traded points for most of the third set. A kill by Garcia Fernandez gave the Cougars their first two-point lead and brought the score to 19-17.  BYU maintained a lead for the rest of the set, and another kill from Garcia Fernandez finished the set, giving BYU a 25-21 win.

A block by Davide Gardini and de Brito Ferreira earned BYU the first point of the fourth set. An ace by Garcia Fernandez gave the Cougars a 3-0 lead, and BYU maintained a solid lead throughout the set. Kills by Zach Eschenberg and Garcia Fernandez helped BYU earn a 14-10 lead, and kills by Gardini, Eschenberg and de Brito Ferreira brought the Cougars up by five with a score of 17-12. A block by Gardini and Jauhiainen finished the set, earning the Cougars a 25-17 set win.

BYU men’s volleyball greets the crowd before defeating No. 3 UCSB on Jan. 31. (Hannah Miner)

UCSB is the most challenging team BYU has faced this season, as they were ranked No. 3 and undefeated. The Feb. 1 match was the first in which the Cougars have had to play five sets, whereas the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 31 marked the first time that UCSB dropped a set this season.

“Santa Barbara kind of has a reputation of a really good defensive team, really good service team and just they scrap and play hard,” Wil Stanley said following Friday’s match. “You know that coming into the game, and then you get in the game, and you still don’t realize how good they are at doing it.”

He added that going into their games against the Gauchos, the team had to be mentally strong and persistent.

“Every team should make a statement, like, ‘Hey, we’re going to come out and we’re going to beat you,'” Garcia Fernandez said after BYU’s win on Friday. “We got to come out and we’re going to put it on you. We’re number two, and we’re trying to keep it like that.”

Saturday’s match was a close call for the Cougars. There was not a wide point spread in any of the five sets.

The teams traded points throughout the first set. An ace from Eschenberg tied the score at 19-19, but UCSB then gained a lead and won the set 25-23.

The Gauchos began set two with a 3-0 lead, and the teams again traded points throughout the set. An ace from Eschenberg finished the set, giving BYU a 25-22 win.

UCSB stayed ahead of the Cougars during much of the third set, although several service errors from the Gauchos allowed BYU to take a brief lead. The Cougars were unable to hold onto their lead and UCSB won the third set 25-20.

BYU began set four with a 4-0 lead thanks to a kill by de Brito Ferreira and an ace from Garcia Fernandez. The Cougars maintained a lead until an attack error from BYU tied the score at 12-12. The teams traded points for the rest of the set, until an error from UCSB and an ace from Garcia Fernandez gave the Cougars a 28-26 win.

The final set began with a point for BYU off of a kill from Gardini. The Cougars maintained a lead for most of the set, and BYU won the set 15-11, allowing the Cougars to remain undefeated.

BYU will play two home games next week. They will face UCLA on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. MST. They will then play Pepperdine on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. MST.

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