PROVO — Wild and memorable things usually happen when the BYU men’s volleyball team takes on UCLA, with Thursday night’s match at the Smith Fieldhouse very much following the form of one of the best volleyball rivalries in the country. In the end it was the Cougars, battling through injury and a 2-0 set deficit, winning out in a five-set thriller (30-32, 21-25, 25-20, 25-16, 17-15).

Closing things out was standout BYU freshman Davide Gardini, scoring consecutive kills off the block for the win over the No. 4-ranked Bruins. For the match Gardini scored a match-high 20 kills on a .255 while proving central in the Cougars’ turnaround and down the stretch.

“It was amazing, and it was just such a great match to be a part of,” Gardini said. “I saw it coming my way and I just wanted to close it out so bad. I’m just happy to do it for my team and all our fans.”

“I hope these guys understand how fortunate they are to be in these matches. …It’s exciting and I wouldn’t expect this to go any other way.”

BYU coach Shawn Olmstead

As good as things ended for the Cougars, almost nothing was going right in the third set, with the Bruins leading 14-10 early with the home crowd proving eerily quiet. Compounding matters considerably was the loss of setter Cyrus Fa’alogo to a lower leg injury early in the second set, which came on top of starting setter Wil Stanley not playing due to his own ankle injury.

But enter freshman Brody Earnest, who proved equal to the task as the Cougars began to find good rhythm to close out the third set and then dominate throughout the fourth.

“Brody has done a great job and I think that he was ready for this moment,” said BYU coach Shawn …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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