Head coach Shawn Olmstead addresses the BYU men's volleyball team in Columbus, Ohio ahead of the NCAA semifinals. BYU has to win two matches to claim a national championship. (BYU Volleyball)

BYU men’s volleyball begins national championship run against Lewis

The No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball team will face off against No. 3 Lewis in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament on May 6 in Columbus, Ohio.

“I don’t have the right words or vocabulary to express how happy I am,” head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “Things have worked out the way that the guys are here, we get a chance and that’s all we can ask for right now.”

The Cougars are locked in, focused and motivated to play in the NCAA Tournament, according to Olmstead. “They don’t need my ‘rah rah’ right now, they’re excited to play in this tournament.”

BYU will be led by five AVCA All-Americans, including three from the first team. The five All-American honors are the most BYU has had in a season, beating the previous record of four.

Gabi Garcia Fernandez, Davide Gardini and Wil Stanley earned AVCA First-Team All-America honors. Zach Eschenberg and Felipe de Brito Ferreira were honorable mentions

Garcia Fernandez and Gardini are the dynamic duo for BYU offensively as they average 3.73 and 3.09 kills per set, respectively.

Garcia Fernandez is a sniper at the service line, totaling 40 aces in 74 sets. Four more aces would put Garcia Fernandez in sole possession of BYU’s all-time aces record, ahead of BYU great Taylor Sander.

“(Garcia Fernandez) is able to bring a lot of speed and pace. When it comes you have very little time to react,” Olmstead said about Garcia Fernandez’s serves.

Stanley, the setter, orchestrates BYU’s offense with 10.26 assists per set.

Eschenberg is another key component for BYU’s offense with 2.64 kills per set on a .324 clip. De Brito Ferreira is a wall for BYU’s defense as he is fifth in the nation in blocks per set with 1.25.

Lewis (21-2) is coming off of a sweep of Penn State in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The match was a competitive one as two of the sets were decided by two points.

Lewis is led by two AVCA First-Team All-Americans: outside hitter Ryan Coenen and middle blocker Tyler Mitchem.

Coenen, the first-ever five-time All-American in men’s volleyball, is the focal point of the Flyer’s offense, averaging a team-high of 4.42 kills per set on a .347 clip.

Mitchem shows his presence on the defensive side of the court as his 1.29 blocks per set are third best in the nation.

The matchup between BYU and Lewis is scheduled for 6 p.m. MDT Thursday night in Columbus, Ohio, and can be seen on the NCAA website. A win would have the Cougars just a game away from their first national championship since 2004.

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