Cougars advance to MPSF semifinals after five sets at Stanford
PALO ALTO, Calif. — Davide Gardini had 23 kills and a career-high five aces to lead BYU men's volleyball to a first-round win over Stanford (18-25, 25-16, 26-24, 19-25, 16-14) in the MPSF tournament on Saturday.
"I'm happy for the boys and proud of their battle from start to finish," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "We had a very solid performance from the service line and had the right mindset in those moments."
Gabi Garcia Fernandez and Felipe de Brito Ferreira joined Gardini in double figures with 18 and 14 kills, respectively. Andrew Lincoln had a team and career-high 13 digs, while Brody Earnest had 54 assists and a career-high five blocks.
The Cardinal opened the match with a 10-5 lead and maintained it throughout the first set. The Stanford lead grew to eight at one point, 20-12 on the team’s second ace of the night. The Cardinal went on to win the first set, 25-18 on a service error from the Cougars. Lincoln had a game-high six digs after one and Garcia Fernandez was tied for most kills with five.
The Cougars responded immediately in the second set, opening on a 6-0 run, capped off by their first ace by Garcia Fernandez. Gardini got back-to-back aces to extend the Cougar lead to seven, 10-3. De Brito Ferreira got his sixth kill to extend the lead to nine, 17-8 and force a Stanford timeout. Gardini’s third ace then put BYU up by 10, 19-9. Garcia Fernandez hit 10 kills late in the set and the Cougars took the second game, 25-16.
The third set was tightly contested, with the teams tied at seven early. The set was tied at 13 before three consecutive errors by the Cardinal put the Cougars up, 16-13. Gardini got his 10th kill, followed by his first block assist, to maintain the Cougar lead, 22-19. De Brito Ferreira then got his 10th kill and Gardini won the set for BYU on an attack, 26-24. Lincoln reached a new career high with 11 digs after the third set.
Gardini got his fifth ace early in the fourth set to reach his new career high. The teams were neck and neck once again, with Stanford holding a slim 10-8 lead. The Cardinal was able to maintain the lead and took the fourth set, 25-19, forcing a decisive fifth set. Garcia Fernandez and Gardini each had 17 kills after four.
BYU got out to a 10-6 lead in the fifth set and was able to hold it thanks to a series of Stanford errors, eventually taking the set and the match, 16-14, on a kill from Gardini.
The Cougars advance to the MPSF semifinals to take on one-seed Pepperdine on Thursday, Apr. 18 at 5 p.m. PDT in Malibu. Live streaming and stats will be on the schedule page.
BYU begins postseason at Stanford
PROVO, Utah — BYU men’s volleyball begins postseason play as a five seed at four-seed Stanford in the MPSF quarterfinals this Saturday. If the Cougars win, they advance to the semifinals at Pepperdine on Apr. 18.
BYU (12-11, 6-6 MPSF)
The Cougars are coming off a loss at Grand Canyon last week to close the regular season. Davide Gardini reached a new career high of 26 kills in the match and freshman Brody Earnest put up 57 assists, the most of any BYU player this season.
BYU blocked 12 attack attempts against GCU, marking the sixth time this season the team has had 12-or-more blocks. They currently rank fourth in the nation and first in the MPSF in blocks per set with a 2.53 average.
BYU enters the MPSF tournament as reigning conference champions, having defeated UCLA last year in the championship match. The Cougars have to win three consecutive matches to repeat as the best in the MPSF.
Stanford (15-10, 6-6 MPSF)
The Cardinal closed the regular season with a sweep over Grand Canyon to tie with the Cougars in the MPSF standings. Stanford owns the head-to-head set tiebreaker 5-4 against BYU, thus claiming the four seed.
BYU leads the all-time series over Stanford 37-22 and has 17-12 advantage on the road. The Cardinal was swept in the first round of the past two MPSF tournaments, including a loss to the Cougars in Provo two years ago.
Stanford is second in the MPSF in assists at 12.14 per set, and third in kills at 12.77 per set. Individually, junior middle blocker Kyler Presho leads the conference in hitting percentage at .468, junior setter Paul Bischoff is second in assists at 10.27 per set and sophomore opposite hitter Jaylen Jasper is third in kills with 3.73 per set.