Friday, April 16, 2021

Davide Gardini digs the ball against Pepperdine on Feb. 12 in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars improved their defensive play on the back row to dominate the Waves in a sweep. (Hannah Miner)

No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball proves a point with sweep of No. 7 Pepperdine

No. 1 BYU proved why it is still the top team in the nation by sweeping No. 7 Pepperdine Friday night in the Smith Fieldhouse.

The Cougars were accurate throughout the night, hitting a season-best .449.

“At the end of the day, it’s just us playing our own game and focusing,” senior opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez said.

Head coach Shawn Olmstead said he was pleased with the team’s back row defense throughout the night. This was evident as the Cougars finished with 18 digs.

“We put a lot of focus in the back row and we saw progress,” Olmstead said.

The Cougars celebrate a point during the match against Pepperdine on Feb. 12. BYU dominated on both sides of the ball in the sweep over the Waves. (Hannah Miner)

The Waves were shorthanded, playing without redshirt senior outside hitter Noah Dyer.

BYU showed why it is ranked No. 1 in the nation early, dominating set one 25-6. BYU hit a season-best .786 in the set. The Cougars benefited from a poor hitting percentage by the Waves, who hit a -.150 in the set.

BYU got out to an early 6-1 lead behind two kills by Davide Gardini, forcing an early timeout by Pepperdine. The timeout did little to stop the Cougars’ momentum, however, as they pushed the lead to 13-3. The Waves once again took a timeout to regroup.

Felipe de Brito Ferreria then hit back-to-back service aces and the Cougars cruised the rest of the set, finishing it off with a by a block by Gabi Garcia Fernandez.

Gardini finished the set with a team-high six kills and a block. De Brito Ferreria added two aces and a kill and Wil Stanley contributed a kill and seven set assists.

The Cougars won a tense set two 25-23. The set included 18 ties and seven score changes.

De Brito Fererria was a source of points early on for the Cougars, providing three kills to put the score at 6-5. The Waves eventually took a 9-8 lead. Garcia Fernandez gave the Cougars a 12-10 lead with two kills, prompting Pepperdine to take a timeout.

The rest of the set was tightly contested as neither team was able to pull away. Garcia Fernandez tied the set at 21-21 with a kill. A hitting error by Pepperdine gave BYU a 22-21 lead.

A kill by Eschenberg kept BYU up by one at 23-22. Pepperdine then evened the score on a kill. Consecutive hitting errors by Pepperdine finished the set out in favor of the Cougars.

Garcia Fernandez finished the set with seven kills, de Brito Fererria added three kills, and Eschenberg and Miki Jauhiainen both had two kills.

The Cougars were able to hang on for the sweep, coming back to win set three 28-26. BYU led by as much as five before Pepperdine went on an 11-5 run to take a 23-22 lead.

The score became 24-23 in favor of Pepperdine after a Waves’ kill. On the set point, Pepperdine hit an inaccurate serve, tying the game at 24.

BYU took the lead 25-24 behind a de Brito Ferreria kill. A kill by Pepperdine then notched the score at 25.

A Garcia Fernandez kill gave BYU the lead once again, 27-26. On the next play, a mishit tied the score again, or so we the officials thought. Olmstead challenged the play and the decision was reversed into a de Brito Ferreria kill, giving the set and match to the Cougars.

BYU returns to action tomorrow night against Pepperdine to finish the series in the Smith Fieldhouse. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. MST and will air on BYUTV.

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