BYU men's volleyball Zach Eschenberg

BYU senior outside hitter Zach Eschenberg points to the crowd while being introduced before a men's volleyball match.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The No. 2 BYU Cougars have secured the top seed in the upcoming MPSF Tournament after a 3-0 victory over No. 6 UCLA. (25-19, 25-16, 25-17)

“Our hitters took a lot of high percentage swings. Wil did a great job finding good tempo for our attackers,” said head coach Shawn Olmstead.

Wil Stanley brought momentum for the Cougars in Set 1, serving an ace at 13-13 and again at 16-13, forcing a Bruins timeout. UCLA countered their previous serving errors with two quick aces to tie once again 17-17. Gabi Garcia Fernandez followed with two more aces (21-18, 23-18), giving the Cougars an easy path to the set win, 25-19. Garcia Fernandez is now only 12 aces away from the all-time BYU career ace record held by Taylor Sander.

The second set was tied at 8 when the Cougars took off. Garcia Fernandez served yet another ace at 15-10, giving BYU a greater edge to end the set. The Cougars hit a solid .706 in set two with 12 total kills and no errors. BYU would win set two 25-16 courtesy of a Zach Eschenberg kill.

Set three was dominated by the Cougars. Stanley had back-to-back setter kills followed by a service ace from Gardini (5-6). Next, Miki Jauhiainen served an ace to bring the Cougars up one 8-7. BYU then took control, forcing UCLA to use two of their timeouts before hitting 15 points. In set three, the Cougars hit .333 with 11 kills on 21 attempts, their most of the night. BYU never let up, taking set three 25-17 and sweeping the Bruins.

BYU and UCLA will face off again tomorrow night to close out the 2021 regular season. Match begins at 5 p.m. PDT with streaming on the Pac-12 Network.

Baseball scores walk-off win

Jacob Wilk hit a walk-off line drive off the left-field wall in the bottom of the ninth, scoring Hunter Swapp from second as BYU defeated Portland 1-0 in game two of the three-game series on Friday.

With the game tied 0-0, Bryan Call lead off the bottom of the ninth for the Cougars with a walk. Hunter Swapp was then put in to pinch run for Call. A Portland error advanced Swapp to second and put McIntyre on first with nobody out, setting up the late-game heroics by Wilk.

"We really needed this win tonight," said Wilk. "I love the brotherhood on this team. We just kept fighting and trying to pick each other up. It was a big win for us."

Pilot pitchers Christian Peters, Peter Allegro and Eli Morris kept the Cougar bats quiet throughout the night, surrendering just three hits.

BYU’s pitching was equally impressive scattering eight hits while holding the Pilots scoreless. Cougar starter Jack Sterner went 4.1 innings allowing six hits while recording three strikeouts. Carter Smith came on in relief surrendering just one hit over three innings before handing the ball over to closer Reid McLaughlin who went 1.2 innings for his second win of the year.

"It felt like a must win game," said BYU head coach Mike Littlewood. "We had a lot of really good at bats tonight and pushed their starter deep into counts. The way he was pitching that was really important. It thought it was a great college baseball game and I'm proud of the way our guys kept battling and found a way to win."

The Cougars (10-16) face the Pilots (15-14) in the third and final game of the series at Miller Park on Saturday at 1 p.m. MDT with live coverage on BYUtv and the BYUtv app. Audio will be available on the BYU Sports Network – BYU Radio FM 107.9, BYUCougars.com and the BYU Cougars app.

Softball pounds out road victory

MORAGA, Calif. – Behind a team effort, BYU softball overcame an early deficit to take down Saint Mary’s 10-6 on Friday night in its first West Coast Conference game of the season.

Saint Mary’s (9-15, 0-1 WCC) took an early lead plating a run in the bottom of the first inning. BYU (18-13, 1-0 WCC) quickly answered as Alyssa Podhurcak made it home on a Gaels error to even the score at 1-all.

It wasn’t long before Saint Mary’s scored two runs in the second and three in the third, putting the Cougars behind 6-1.

In the top of the fourth, BYU began its comeback with back-to-back RBI-singles from Violet Zavodnik then Arissa Paulson to bring the score to 6-3. Huntyr Ava followed it up with a single to center field which eventually scored Zavodnik and Paulson on an SMC error to bring the Cougars within one at 6-5.

BYU continued its hit-fest in the top of the fifth with a slew of RBI singles first from Rylee Jensen, then HannahJo Peterson before Zavodnik drew a bases-loaded walk. Ava added another RBI single before Epenesa drove a runner home on a ground out topping the score at 10-6.

Carley Brown and the BYU defense kept the Gaels scoreless in the final two innings, retiring the side in the bottom of the seventh to snatch the Cougars' first WCC win of the year.

The Cougars close out the series against Saint Mary’s on Saturday, April 10 with a doubleheader slated for 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. PDT.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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