No. 8 BYU lost the final match of the BYU Invite against No. 2 Hawai'i in three sets (25-20, 25-17, 25-14) at the Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday, in front of a season-high 4,572 fans.
The undefeated Warriors (20-0) ran their streak of consecutive sets won to 60. Hawai'i also snapped its 15-match losing streak against BYU in Provo with only its fourth win there in 29 all-time meetings.
With No. 1 Long Beach getting swept by USC on Saturday, the Warriors will be the top-ranked team in the country when the new AVCA poll comes out on Monday.
Gabi Garcia Fernandez led the Cougars with 12 kills, five digs and three blocks. He also had five aces to tie his career high. Davide Gardini contributed five kills, five digs and three blocks. Cyrus Fa'alogo and Brody Earnest traded off at the setter position with nine and eight assists, respectively.
After the Cougars (12-8, 6-3 MPSF) and the Rainbow Warriors (20-0, 4-0 Big West) traded points back and forth in the beginning of the first set, back-to-back aces by Garcia Fernandez gave BYU the advantage, 9-8. The Rainbow Warriors used a three-point run to take the lead, 15-12, but the Cougars responded with kills from Gardini and Andrew Lincoln to close the gap to one point, 15-14. Although the Cougars managed to tie the score 18-18 after a block by Gardini and Felipe de Brito Ferreira, the Rainbow Warriors extended their lead to 21-18 with three consecutive points. A Lincoln kill brought BYU close at 23-20 before Hawai'i took the first set, 25-20.
Back-to-back aces by Garcia Fernandez opened up the second set for the Cougars with an early lead, 2-0. Hawai'i edged out BYU with a four-point run to give them a 10-6 lead. Out of the timeout, kills by Garcia Fernandez and Fa'alogo and blocks by Gardini and de Brito Ferreira decreased the gap to 12-10. The Rainbow Warriors separated themselves from the Cougars with a 20-14 lead. Garcia Fernandez's fifth ace of the match then brought the score to 21-17. A four-point run gave Hawai'i the second set, 25-17.
Set Three opened with back-and-forth points from both teams until the Rainbow Warriors gained a 15-9 advantage. A kill by Garcia Fernandez and multiple Hawai'i errors kept BYU within six, 20-14. The Rainbow Warriors then claimed the final set and the match 25-14.
BYU hits the road for the final three matches of the regular season, traveling to California first for a pair of rematches against Concordia on Thursday, Mar. 28 and USC on Saturday, Mar. 30, with both matches starting at 7 p.m. PDT.