No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball swept no. 13 Stanford (25-12, 25-21, 25-22) on Saturday, Feb. 29, at home in the Smith Fieldhouse, which was packed to capacity with fans.
The fieldhouse seated 5817 fans during tonight’s matchup. Several players and coaches have previously commented on how much they appreciate the BYU fanbase, and Saturday was another example of the crowd’s impact.
“It is a very contagious energy,” Zach Eschenberg said after the game. “It’s incredible. I honestly couldn’t believe it that the whole fieldhouse was filled, every seat seemed to be filled. It was incredible. And being on the court and seeing that and hearing everyone cheering, it’s electric. It makes you just want to play your heart out and play your best.”
The Cougars topped the Stanford Cardinal in nearly every aspect. BYU had a total of 37 kills and 13 blocks, while Stanford had 29 kills and six blocks. Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the Cougars with 12 kills, 22 attacks and 18 points. Eschenberg also had 22 attacks and six blocks, while Miki Jauhiainen had seven blocks and Davide Gardini led with seven digs.
BYU earned the first point of the match off a shared block by Eschenberg, Branden Oberender and Wil Stanley. A kill by Gardini began a five-point run for the Cougars, which featured two kills in a row from Garcia Fernandez, bringing the score to 13-4. BYU kept a solid lead for the remainder of the set and finished 25-12 with a kill from Garcia Fernandez. During set one, BYU had 15 kills and 6.5 blocks, while Stanford had six kills and one block.
Stanford earned the first point of the second set, but BYU quickly gained a lead. An ace from Wil Stanley brought the score to 4-1, and the Cougars remained in the lead until Stanford tied the score at 14-14. A kill by Oberender brought BYU back into the lead, with the score at 16-15. An ace by Jon Stanley brought the score to 23-17, and a kill by Jauhiainen gave BYU the win with a 25-21 score.
A kill from Garcia Fernandez gave BYU the first point of the third set, and the teams traded points during much of the beginning of the set. Another kill from Garcia Fernandez began an eight-point run for BYU, which brought the score to 17-11 and gave the Cougars their biggest lead of the set. An ace by Garcia Fernandez brought the score to 22-14, and an ace from Oberender earned BYU the win, with the set score at 25-22.
BYU’s record is now 16-0 following its win against Stanford. The matchup was the last home game until senior night on April 2.
“We just take it moment by moment and practice by practice,” coach Shawn Olmstead said of the Cougars’ upcoming games on the road.
The players have been focusing on getting their schoolwork taken care of before the team hits the road, said Eschenberg.
“Then on top of school, making sure that we are healthy, that we’re hydrating well, that we’re eating well and we’re mentally ready to play in other opponents’ arenas against very talented teams,” he said. “It definitely involves a lot of mental preparation to be gone for so long.”
The team is looking forward to their time on the road over the next few weeks.
“We love it, you know,” Garcia Fernandez said. “It’s fun to win in the fieldhouse, but it’s also fun to win outside the fieldhouse and take it to everybody outside.”
The Cougars will travel to Honolulu to play No. 1 Hawaii from March 5-6. They will then face Stanford, USC and Concordia on the road before returning to Provo to face Grand Canyon University on April 2.