PROVO — The No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball team swept No. 7 UCLA (31-29, 25-12, 25-23) Thursday night in the Smith Fieldhouse to earn its first conference win and remain unbeaten this season.
“We’re always happy with a sweep over UCLA,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We were a little tentative in the first set and I was proud of our guys for staying in it. We were able to make good touches and things started to open up more once we started getting the ball to other hitters.”
Opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez led all players in kills and aces, snagging 13 kills on a .429 clip and three aces. Outside hitter Davide Gardini totaled 11 kills, four digs and three blocks while setter Wil Stanley connected on all three of his attack attempts to match his career high in kills. Middle blocker Felipe de Brito Ferreira led all players in blocks, matching his season-high of six block assists.
The Cougars (11-0, 1-0 MPSF) and Bruins (5-4, 0-1) got off to a competitive start in the first set. The game was not separated by more than three points at any point as both teams battled back and forth. Back-to-back blocks from Miki Jauhiainen, Zach Eschenberg and Garcia Fernandez brought the score to 17-14 for the Cougars. After continuing to go point-for-point with UCLA, BYU closed out the first set off a Bruin attack error, 31-29.
Carrying the momentum from set one, kills by Garcia Fernandez and Jauhiainen fueled a 5-1 run to start out the second set. BYU capitalized on several UCLA errors to increase its advantage. A block from Stanley and de Brito Ferreira brought the Cougars’ lead to 11 points, 21-10. Kills by Stanley and Garcia Fernandez ended the set to give the BYU the win, 25-12.
Garcia Fernandez secured his second and third aces of the night during a five-point serving streak at the start of set three. After the Bruins came back to tie the game at 14-all, both teams went point-for-point until kills by Garcia Fernandez and Eschenberg helped BYU take a 21-18 edge. De Brito Ferreira connected on a kill to clinch the set, 25-23, and give the Cougars their first MPSF win this season.
BYU will continue its homestand against No. 8 Pepperdine at 5 p.m. Saturday.