Wednesday, August 12, 2020

BYU men’s volleyball takes top spot in the nation after weekend in Honolulu

No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball traveled to Honolulu for two matches against No. 2 Hawaii on Thursday, March 5 and Friday, March 6, in a sold-out Stan Sheriff Center. The matchup saw BYU sweep Hawaii on Thursday (25-15, 25-17, 25-20) and then fall to Hawaii in its second five-set match of the season on Friday (25-20, 25-22, 22-25, 23-25, 17-19).

The series also saw BYU’s highest hitting percentage of the rally scoring era at a .603 during the sweep on March 5. Gabi Garcia Fernandez broke BYU’s record for most aces in a single season during the match on March 6, and now totals 56 aces this season. BYU’s 17-match win streak was the second best start in program history, as well as the third best win streak in a season.

BYU has a .361 hitting percentage this season, the second highest in the country as of March 8. The Cougars average 12.97 kills per set and lead the country in blocks per set, with 2.95.

Thirteen of BYU’s 17 wins have been against top 15 teams, including No. 1 Hawaii, No. 3 UC Santa Barbara and No. 5 Lewis. Hawaii and BYU stayed atop the AVCA poll this week, with BYU overtaking Hawaii for the No. 1 spot. The teams will also likely face each other again in the NCAA tournament later this spring.

Miki Jauhiainen, Davide Gardini and Felipe de Brito Ferreira celebrate during BYU’s match against Pepperdine on Feb. 8. (Hannah Miner)

Head coach Shawn Olmstead said looking forward, the Cougars are focused on taking one match at a time and not getting ahead of themselves. They are looking at every match as an opportunity for improvement and doing everything they can to be in the present.

“We’ve been going into every game this year saying, ‘Hey, it’s another game, it’s another chance for us to get better,'” Wil Stanley said. “I think that has been our biggest upside this year, just the fact that we don’t take any game differently. (Whether) we’re playing Hawaii or we’re playing Concordia, we’re going to go into the game with the same mindset of ‘How can we make ourselves better?’ And that’s kind of how we’ve kind of improved every single game this year.”

The Cougars will face No. 13 Stanford next as they continue on the road. They will then take on an unranked USC and No. 14 Concordia Irvine on the road before returning to the Smith Fieldhouse to play their final home game against Grand Canyon University on April 2.

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