Felipe de Brito Ferreira had a career-high 13 total blocks, the most for a Cougar since 2014, to lead No. 9 BYU men's volleyball to a 3-1 (28-26, 27-25, 22-25, 26-24) win over No. 6 Pepperdine on Saturday night in the Smith Fieldhouse.
"The team found a way to grind throughout the entire match," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "It was kind of an up-and-down match on both sides but I liked that we stayed the course and found a way to win."
Gabi Garcia Fernandez led all players with 20 kills and added a career-high nine blocks and eight digs. Davide Gardini added 17 kills, seven digs and five blocks, while Brody Earnest tallied a career-high 40 assists in his first start at BYU.
In the first set, both teams traded points until the Waves (15-6, 5-3 MPSF) took a 6-4 advantage after scoring three-straight. With Pepperdine on top, 14-12, a kill by Andrew Lincoln and an attack error evened the game at 14-all. Back-to-back kills by Garcia Fernandez and another error by the Waves gave the Cougars (11-6, 6-3 MPSF) a 19-16 lead. At set point for Pepperdine, the Waves suffered a service error to once again even the game. Two points later, the score was still tied before blocks by de Brito Ferreira and Garcia Fernandez closed the set as BYU claimed a 28-16 win.
Set two was evenly matched as the Cougars and Waves found themselves unable to score more than two points in a row. With the score tied at 15, Pepperdine took advantage of a BYU service error and scored three-straight points to take an 18-15 lead. Following a timeout, Miki Jauhiainen, Gardini and Garcia Fernandez recorded one kill apiece to once again tie the game up, 18-18. A long rally on set point resulted in a block by Gardini and Garcia Fernandez as the Cougars took a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Waves jumped to a 6-4 lead in the third set. A Jauhiainen kill, a Pepperdine error and another Garcia Fernandez kill gave BYU the advantage, 11-9. A 5-0 run by the Waves gave the lead back, 15-12. Back-to-back kills by the Cougars evened the game at 16-16, but Pepperdine answered by taking a 21-18 advantage. BYU fought back to even the game at 22-all when Garcia Fernandez hit back-to-back kills, but the Waves went on to take set three, 25-22.
The momentum was in favor of the Cougars in the fourth set as they took an 11-6 lead and forced a Pepperdine timeout. BYU held the lead until a 4-1 run by the Waves brought the score to 16-all. The Cougars continued to fight and took a three-point lead once again, 20-17. BYU pulled ahead to match point, but Pepperdine scored three-straight to tie the game at 24-24. After a timeout Lincoln recorded a kill and then an attack error after his serve the take the set and the match, 26-24.
The Cougars will return to the Smith Fieldhouse as they host the BYU Invitational on Mar. 21-23. The first game will take place at 7 p.m. MDT against Princeton on Thursday, Mar. 21. The game will be televised live on BYUtv.