BYU mvb Davide Gardini celebrate

IRVINE, Calif. – No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball defeated No. 5 UC Irvine in four sets (25-17, 20-25, 25-19, 25-15) at the Bren Events Center on Wednesday to pick up its seventh-straight win of the season.

Opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez totaled a match-high 19 kills on a .517 clip while also adding seven digs, four blocks and three aces. Outside hitter Davide Gardini contributed 16 kills, seven digs, five blocks and two aces. Wil Stanley recorded his first double-double of the season with 48 assists and a career-high 13 digs. Zach Eschenberg also reached a career high in digs with 11 while Felipe de Brito Ferreira led the team with a season-high seven blocks, including his first solo block of the year.

De Brito Ferreira opened the match with back-to-back kills to give BYU (7-0) a 2-0 edge over UC Irvine (3-2). Consecutive aces by Gardini and kills by Garcia Fernandez and de Brito Ferreira increased the Cougars’ lead to 6-2. Stanley dropped an ace before Eschenberg, Miki Jauhiainen and Garcia Fernandez each added a kill to make the score 13-7. Capitalizing on several Anteater errors, Gardini closed out the set with three kills to give BYU the 25-17 win.

UC Irvine outscored the Cougars 9-3 to start the second set. Kills by de Brito Ferreira and Garcia Fernandez briefly stopped the bleeding before the Anteaters scored three-straight points to extend their lead to 12-6. UC Irvine went on a 6-1 run to take a 20-10 advantage. Errors committed by the Anteaters and kills by Eschenberg and Garcia Fernandez helped BYU climb back to within four points, 23-19. The comeback came up short as UC Irvine scored the final two points to claim the second set, 25-20.

Behind a pair of kills by Gardini and a Garcia Fernandez ace, the Cougars took an early 8-3 lead to begin the third set. A kill by Garcia Fernandez followed by a block from Stanley and Jauhiainen helped BYU outscore the Anteaters 6-1 while strengthening its lead to 15-8. Garcia Fernandez connected on three more kills as the two teams traded points before a UC Irvine service error gave the Cougars the 25-19 win.

After both teams battled back and forth to start the fourth set, a block by Gardini, de Brito Ferreira and Garcia Fernandez broke a 10-10 tie. The block sparked a 7-0 run with both Garcia Fernandez and Gardini recording two kills apiece. After an Anteater kill, Garcia Fernandez scored four points on a pair of kills and aces to fuel a 6-0 Cougar run and bring the score to 23-11. Eschenberg ended the set with a kill as BYU seized the 25-15 win and the four-set victory over UC Irvine.

The Cougars will face the Anteaters again at the Bren Event Center on Friday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. PST. The match will be streamed live on BigWest.tv.

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

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