BYU men’s volleyball senior opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez was named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and five other Cougars earned all-conference honors, the conference announced Wednesday.
Garcia Fernandez was one of three Cougars named to the All-MPSF First Team, joining senior setter Wil Stanley and junior outside hitter Davide Gardini. Senior middle blocker Felipe de Brito Ferreira and senior outside hitter Zach Eschenberg were named to the All-MPSF Second Team. Senior middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen received All-MPSF honorable mention honors.
Garcia Fernandez is the fifth player all-time to earn back-to-back MPSF player of the year honors. He is a four-time All-MPSF First-Team selection, the third all-time to achieve the feat. Garcia Fernandez helped the second-ranked Cougars to a 17-3 (.850) regular season and No. 1 seed in the MPSF Tournament. He has recorded the MPSF’s top-two single-match hitting percentages this year (12-kill minimum), in back-to-back matches which resulted in MPSF Offensive Player of the Week recognition following both efforts. He attacked for an errorless .833 clip with 15 kills against Pepperdine (Feb. 12) and an errorless .800 clip with 12 kills against UCLA (Feb. 6). In the MPSF’s regular season, he compiled the most kills (254), most points (317.5), and served the most aces (33). His 33 aces are the fourth-most across the country, while he ranks ninth in the NCAA in points per set (4.67). Garcia Fernandez recorded 14 double-digit kill matches, while hitting at least .300 in 12 of BYU’s 20 matches. His 172 career aces entering the postseason are within four of the MPSF’s all-time top-10. Garcia Fernandez represents BYU’s sixth MPSF Player of the Year (Garcia Fernandez-2021, ‘20; Taylor Sander-2014, ‘13; Carlos Moreno-2004; Ryan Millar-1997).
Stanley averaged 10.07 assists per set to rank No. 2 in the conference and No.10 nationally. It is his second appearance on the All-MPSF first team. The setter’s 655 assists helped the Cougars rank second in the NCAA with a .358 hitting percentage. He also totaled 80 digs, 34 blocks and six aces in 54 sets.
Two seasons after being named the 2019 MPSF Freshman of the Year, Gardini now has back-to-back All-MPSF first team honors. The outside hitter recorded 177 kills while finishing the year with an efficient hitting percentage of .336. He also had 92 digs while totaling 42 blocks and 23 aces.
De Brito Ferreira averaged 1.14 blocks per set to lead the MPSF in the category and sit at No. 7 nationally. The middle blocker started 15 matches and hit .433 while connecting for 68 kills. The senior has now been an All-MPSF selection all four of his years at BYU.
Eschenberg finished his season with a career-high 136 kills, 52 digs, 26 blocks and 19 aces. Jauhiainen had 54 blocks, 48 kills and 16 digs.
BYU softball rallies for win against Utah
BYU lost an early 5-0 lead against Utah and trailed 6-5 entering the bottom of the seventh. Back-to-back solo home runs by Huntyr Ava and Martha Epanesa gave the Cougars an improbable 7-6 victory Tuesday at Gail Miller Field.
BYU led 5-2 after six innings but Utah posted four runs in the seventh to take the 6-5 lead, setting up the heroics in the bottom of the seventh.
The Cougars (24-13 overall, 3-0 WCC) have won 13 games in a row and will host San Diego for three games beginning Friday with a doubleheader.
BYU swimming coach let go
BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe announced today that BYU swimming and diving head coach John Brooks will not have his contract renewed for the coming season.
Brooks had been in the role since 2012. During his tenure, the Cougar men’s team advanced to the NCAA Championships twice and captured four MPSF titles.
Current assistant coach Shari Skabelund will step in as interim head coach for the 2021-22 season. Skabelund started coaching at BYU as a part-time assistant coach in 1987 and has been with the Cougars ever since. She has worked specifically with the sprint group.
While competing for BYU as a student-athlete, Skabelund won Region 18 titles in the 100-yard individual medley (1978) and the 100-yard butterfly (1980) and qualified for the AIAW Nationals in 1978 and 1979. She was the first woman swimmer at BYU to complete four years of eligibility.
Tanuvasa first AVCA volleyball All-American at UVU
Kazna Tanuvasa was selected as an AVCA All-America Honorable Mention honoree, becoming the first AVCA All-American selection in school history. The junior outside hitter was also named AVCA Pacific South All-Region Honorable Mention, WAC Player of the year, and was selected to the All-WAC first team and WAC All-Tournament team. The Lehi, Utah native also led her team to its first-ever WAC Tournament Championship and a birth in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.
Tanuvasa ranked in the top-five in the WAC in four categories, ranking third in kills (232), third in total points (251), third in points per set (3.9), and fourth in kills per set (3.55). She led the Wolverines in all four of those categories and led Utah Valley in hitting percentage among qualified players.
Tanuvasa has been named an All-WAC performer in each of her three seasons in Orem. She is only the second player in UVU history to be nominated to an All-WAC team three times, joining Lauren Bakker (2013-15). She is now the only Wolverine to be name to the all-conference first team in multiple seasons.
Estrada wins medalist honors for UVU at WAC Championships
Utah Valley’s Victoria Estrada birdied two of her final four holes en route to firing a final-round 71 to earn top medalist honors at the 2021 WAC Women’s Golf Championship on Wednesday at Boulder Creek Golf Club with a 2-under-par 214. By winning medalist honors, Estrada also earns the program’s inaugural bid to an NCAA Regional.
As a team, the Wolverines earned a fourth-place finish at the 2021 WAC Championship with a three-round total of 909 (+45). UVU carded rounds of 297, 300 and 312 on its way to placing fourth.
“Victoria played a spectacular round of golf today with an exceptional finish,” head UVU coach Dr. Sue Nyhus said. “The wind was steady all day but started gusting on the back nine. On her 18th hole she had to re-tee the ball three times because the wind kept knocking the ball off the tee. But it didn’t bother her as she shot 2-under on the last four holes. With near birdies on the other two holes as well.”