No. 2 BYU sweeps past the Eagles
PROVO, Utah – No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball defeated Concordia in straight sets (25-15, 25-19, 25-20) at the Smith Fieldhouse on Thursday to extend its winning streak to 14 matches.
“We passed really well tonight and it allowed us to get the ball to our middles,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “It opens up things for our offense as a whole and that’s something we like to focus on when we can. We’re very thankful for the fans that came out tonight. We’ve always done everything we can to show our gratitude toward our fans and it meant the world to us that they were here tonight.”
The Cougars continue to build on the second-best start to a season in program history with their 14th-consecutive win of the year. BYU remains atop the league standings after beating the four MPSF opponents the team has faced so far in conference play.
Opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the Cougars in scoring with 10 kills on a .368 clip and three aces while also adding four blocks and three digs to his stat line. Outside hitter Davide Gardini had nine kills on a hitting percentage of .500 and also posted five digs, three blocks and an ace.
Outside hitter Zach Eschenberg had eight kills, four digs and three blocks while middle blocker Branden Oberender had a season-high five kills on a .833 clip in this third start of the season. Libero Mitchel Worthington totaled a match-high nine digs while middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen led both teams with seven blocks on the night.
Two kills by Gardini and an ace by Garcia Fernandez put BYU (14-0, 4-0 MPSF) up 3-1 over Concordia (6-9, 1-3) early in the first set. After three-straight Eagle errors, Eschenberg dropped an ace to increase the lead to 11-7. Gardini added an ace of his own and consecutive Cougar blocks extended the advantage to 22-13. A kill by Gardini ended the set to give BYU the 25-15 win. The Cougars hit an errorless .611 in the first game while holding Concordia to a .069 hitting percentage.
Garcia Fernandez had a pair of kills as the two teams traded points to start the second set. The opposite hitter connected on two more kills and served his second ace of the match to bring the score to 14-10 in favor of BYU. Eschenberg added two kills to help the Cougars take a five-point lead, 20-15. Following another Garcia Fernandez ace and a kill by Gardini, an Eschenberg kill ended the set, 25-19.
Both Gardini and Garcia Fernandez each had a pair of kills as both teams battled back and forth in the third game. Another Gardini kill broke an 8-8 tie followed by a kill by Oberender to take a two-point edge, 11-9. A block by Garcia Fernandez, Jauhiainen and Eschenberg fueled a 5-2 BYU run to make the score 18-14. After two kills by Eschenberg set up match point for the Cougars, an Eagle service error clinched the set and the sweep for BYU, 25-20.
The Cougars will remain at the Smith Fieldhouse to face USC on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. The match will be televised on BYUtv and streamed live on the BYUtv App and byutv.org. Tickets can be purchased on byutickets.com.
No. 2 Cougars continue MPSF play at home
PROVO, Utah – No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball will host two conference foes this week at the Smith Fieldhouse beginning with Concordia on Thursday, Feb. 20, before facing USC on Saturday, Feb. 22.
The Cougars (13-0, 3-0) will play the Eagles (6-8, 1-2) at 7 p.m. MST on Thursday and the Trojans (2-11, 0-4) at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Both matches will be televised on BYUtv and streamed on the BYUtv App and byutv.org.
As one of two undefeated teams remaining in the NCAA DI-II, BYU remained at No. 2 in this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll behind Hawaii. The Cougars’ 13-match win streak to open the year is the second-best start to a season in program history and the best since 1999. After sweeping Grand Canyon last week, BYU improved to 3-0 against conference opponents to remain atop the MPSF standings.
Since Concordia joined the league in 2017, BYU has split each year’s two-game series while holding a 3-2 record overall. The Cougars swept the Eagles in their two conference wins while both losses have come in five sets. Concordia enters the match tied for fifth in the league after defeating USC and dropping matches to Pepperdine and UCLA.
The Eagles’ attack is led by outside hitter Raymond Barsemian. The senior leads the MPSF in attacks per set (9.76) and is second in kills per set (3.98). As a team, Concordia leads the conference in digs per set (10.00) with libero Addison Enriques pacing the MPSF with 2.37 digs per set.
USC enters the week at the bottom of the league standings having lost its first four matches against MPSF opponents. The Trojans are currently on a five-match skid and their two lone victories this year are five-set wins over Princeton and CSUN. USC will play at Stanford this Thursday before traveling to face BYU in Provo. Under head coach Shawn Olmstead, the Cougars are 7-1 against the Trojans
For the fifth week in a row, BYU opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez leads the NCAA with an average of .886 aces per set. The junior is also the conference leader in points per set (5.47) and kills per set (4.09). Setter Wil Stanley paces the conference with 10.77 assists per set while middle blocker Felipe de Brito Ferreira leads the MPSF with 1.282 blocks per set.
As a team, the Cougars lead the league in hitting percentage (.345), blocks per set (2.755), assists per set (12.21), and kills per set (13.00).