BYU men's volleyball vs UC Irvine 1

BYU sophomore opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez serves the ball against UC Irvine in the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo on March 8, 2019.

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – All-American Gabi Garcia Fernandez recorded a career-high seven aces as No. 3 BYU men’s volleyball beat No. 6 Lewis in four sets (25-21, 25-21, 22-25, 25-16) on Saturday.

"Tonight was a good physical and competitive match from the start," BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. "I was pleased with how the team managed the ebbs and flows of the match. Both teams made adjustments throughout the night and we responded well to those moments. Wil and Gabi were aggressive from the service line and went on some nice runs that really gave us a cushion. Gabi's four aces in a row to finish set two were critical to the win."

Garcia Fernandez’s seven aces marked just the fourth time in the rally era that a BYU player has recorded seven or more aces in a single match. Taylor Sander was the last Cougar to finish with seven or more aces after setting a program record with nine against UC San Diego in 2014. Garcia Fernandez also totaled 16 kills and six blocks while leading the team with nine digs.

Sophomore Davide Gardini finished with a match-high 19 kills on a .400 clip while also adding six digs, four blocks and an ace. Junior Felipe de Brito Ferreira also recorded six blocks for the Cougars. Senior Wil Stanley contributed 36 assists, five digs, three blocks, two aces and a pair of kills.

Kills by Garcia Fernandez, Gardini and Miki Jauhiainen helped BYU (2-0) to a quick 6-2 advantage over Lewis in Set 1. The Cougars maintained the four-point cushion until a 5-1 run by the Flyers brought the score within one point midway through the set, 15-14. An ace by Stanley followed by kills by Zach Eschenberg and Garcia Fernandez increased BYU’s lead to 21-16. Gardini connected on back-to-back attacks to seal the set for the Cougars, 25-21.

The second set was closely contested with the score tied 13 different times as neither team gained much separation from the other. Two Gardini kills broke a 10-10 tie and led to BYU claiming a brief three-point lead before Lewis promptly evened the score at 15-all. After Lewis took a 21-20 edge late in the second game, Garcia Fernandez dropped an impressive four consecutive aces to close out the set for a 25-21 win.

The Flyers bounced back early to take a 9-6 advantage over the Cougars in Set 3 and remained in control for the rest of the third set. Multiple errors brought the score within one point, but Lewis answered with a 5-2 run to claim a 15-11 lead. Gardini contributed three-straight kills to fuel a late 5-2 BYU run late in the game. However, the run was too little too late as the Flyers extinguished the comeback, winning 25-22.

The Cougars opened the fourth set with a 10-4 run with five different players recording a kill during the stretch. Lewis stormed back, scoring six-straight points to tie the game at 10-all. Garcia Fernandez tallied three more aces to fuel a 7-0 run to help BYU pull back away, 19-12. A Flyer error and a kill from Gardini finished the set to give the Cougars the victory with a 25-16 win.

BYU will host No. 15 Penn State in its home opener at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. MST. The match will be televised on BYUtv and streamed live on the BYUtv app. Tickets can be purchased on byutickets.com.

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

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