BYU Men’s Volleyball: Short-handed Cougars stun No. 2 Hawaii 3-1

March 11, 2018 GMT

Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga pushed No. 4 BYU men’s volleyball past No. 2 Hawai’i in four sets (20-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-23) Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center to win the Outrigger Resorts Invitational.

The Cougars were playing without starting middles Price Jarman and Miki Jauhiainen and libero Erik Sikes due to injuries.

Fa’agata-Tufuga matched his career high with 16 kills while collecting three aces and six blocks. Leo Durkin contributed 44 assists and Brenden Sander had 12 kills, three aces, six digs and four blocks. Gabi Garcia Fernandez collected a career-high five aces, six digs and nine kills while Felipe de Brito Ferreira had seven kills on eight swings. Christian Rupert had a career-high five kills and a career-high eight blocks.

The Cougars, which have won 12 straight matches, totaled 11 service aces and 13 blocks.

“We’ve played a little bit lethargic the past two nights, so it was nice to come out with some confidence,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I liked how aggressive we were from the service line and at the net. Hats off to Hawai’i for a great match and invitational.”

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BYU (17-4, 7-0 MPSF) picked up the first point of the first set from a Fernandez kill. Hawai’i (13-3, 1-1 Big West) then collected the next seven-straight points to take a 7-1 advantage. The Cougars rallied on a 4-0 run, with help from back-to-back Sander aces, to get back within a pair, down 7-5. A Fa’agata-Tufuga ace eventually evened the score at 10-all. A pair of kills from Fa’agata-Tufuga helped BYU stay in the lead at 17-15, but the Rainbow Warriors went on a 7-0 run to end the set, winning it 25-20.

Fernandez gave the Cougars a 5-3 advantage to start the second set. Three blocks from Rupert helped BYU go up 10-5, forcing a timeout from Hawai’i. The Rainbow Warriors then went on a 4-1 run of their own to get within a pair, trailing 11-9. Two aces from Fa’agata-Tufuga kept the Cougars ahead 15-10, however. A Fernandez kill maintained the BYU lead, 19-15, and a Ferreira kill made it 23-19. Back-to-back errors from Hawai’i then gave the Cougars the set 25-20.

Three kills from Fa’agata-Tufuga helped BYU take a 6-2 lead in the third set. A 6-1 Cougar run, which included consecutive aces from Fernandez, made it 15-6. Kills by Sander and Fernandez helped increase the lead to double digits at 20-10. The Rainbow Warriors then went on a 9-2 run to get back within three, down 22-19, forcing a timeout from BYU. A Fernandez ace gave the Cougars set point at 24-19 and a Fa’agata-Tufuga kill ended the set 25-21.

A Fa’agata-Tufuga and Rupert block gave BYU an 8-6 edge at the beginning of the fourth set, but Hawai’i scored five of the next six points to go up 11-9. The Cougars tied things up from points 11-13, but the Rainbow Warriors stayed ahead at 19-16 following an ace. Three Sander kills made it 22-22, and a kill by Fernandez gave BYU set point. A Fa’agata-Tufuga and Rupert block then ended the set and match 25-23.

At the conclusion of the invitational, Fernandez and Sander were added to the all-tournament team and Sander was named the Most Outstanding Player.

The Cougars return home next to continue conference play against USC Thursday, Mar. 15, at 7 p.m. MDT.