Alex Ah Sue (2) celebrates a point with his teammates against UCI in the Smith Fieldhouse. (BYU Photo)

No. 10 BYU men’s volleyball wins 5-set home opener against No. 13 UCI

No. 10 BYU men’s volleyball beat No. 13 University of California Irvine in five sets in the Cougars’ home opener Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse in an “edge-of-your-seat” style game.

BYU took off in the first set with a quick 3-0 run before UCI battled back and tied it at 6-6. BYU came back with a run of its own and play went back and forth.

Both teams had a few serving errors, but BYU also had three service aces in the first set. BYU struggled to hit with just a .172 clip, but Alex Ah Sue got the kill on set point to put the Cougars up 1-0.

The second set started with Miks Ramanis getting a kill and an ace within BYU’s first three points. Both teams volleyed back and forth and kept the ball alive.

BYU extended its lead to four, but UCI fought back and tied the game at 19. BYU went on 3-0 run, but UCI refused to let the set go, tying it back up at 23.

Senior star Davide Gardini finished the set with back-to-back kills, giving the Cougars the win in set two, 25-23.

UCI started the third set out strong, refusing to be swept and getting out to a quick 6-2 lead over BYU.

The Anteaters controlled the set and had a hitting percentage of .500, while BYU struggled to find momentum, only hitting .069 in the third set. Irvine won the set 25-17 with the final two points earned off of BYU errors.

The fourth set was another back-and-forth affair. The score was tied 23 times and the lead changed nine times throughout the set. UCI had seven service errors in the set while BYU had six.

BYU had two match-point chances to finish the game, but UCI wasn’t ready for it to be over and ended up winning the set 27-25, taking the game to a fifth-and-final set.

Ah Sue had three quick kills to start the fifth set to give BYU a two-point lead that was never relinquished.

The Cougars went on a 7-3 run and extended their lead to 13-7 in the decisive set. The Anteaters rallied, but a kill from Ramanis and match point by Branden Oberender ended the set, 15-12, giving the Cougars their first win on the young season.

Gardini led all scorers with 25 points coming from 18 kills, four aces and five blocks. Ah Sue had 19 points with 15 kills, one ace and six blocks.

The Cougars will face off against the Anteaters again Saturday evening in the second match of the two-match series.

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