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BYU Volleyball beats #4 UCLA in 5-set thriller

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BYU Volleyball reverse swept fourth-ranked UCLA in five sets(30-32, 21-25, 25-20, 25-16, 17-15) on Thursday night.

The Cougars and the MPSF rival Bruins battled ferociously in the first set, with the set going to extra points. The Cougars had three set points, but still fell to the Bruins 32-30. The set tied for the longest set this season, as this was the third time BYU has played a 32-30 set.

The Bruins carried their momentum into the second set and won 25-21. BYU’s main men of Gabi Garcia Fernandez and Davide Gardini struggled during the set, and UCLA’s Micah Ma’a and Daenan Gyimah were excellent. Ian Eschenberg, younger brother of BYU’s Zach Eschenberg, was phenomenal in the first two sets as well, recording six kills as he replaced the injured Austin Matautia.

BYU was down 13-7, and appeared to be on its way to being swept by the Bruins, before they came roaring back. The Cougars tied things up at 15 before going on a 10-5 run as Gardini and Fernandez started to come alive in the third set, and BYU would win the set 25-20 and extend the match into a fourth set.

The fourth set was extremely competitive early in the set, as the teams traded points through the first eight points. The Cougars would create a lead at 14-9 and another 21-11, completely turning the game around. Third string setter Brody Earnest, who stepped on for a cramping Cyrus Fa’alogo in the second set, provided BYU’s hitters with excellent passes throughout the set. The Cougars would win the set 25-16.

The fifth set was all Ma’a for UCLA, who recorded 8 kills in the fifth set. The Bruins and Cougars traded points the whole way, neither team creating a lead greater than two. The Bruins had two match points, going up 14-13 and 15-14, but the Cougars would tie things up both times. The Cougars would create their own match point, and won 17-15 on a Davide Gardini kill.

Andrew Lincoln was instrumental in the comeback, recording 11 kills, 0 errors, and hitting .458 in an epic performance.

The Cougars have now won 15 straight over the Bruins in Provo and haven’t lost at home to UCLA since 2009. BYU now leads the series 36-34 all time against the Bruins. The loss is the Bruins’ first in MPSF play this season, and the Cougars improve to 10-6 on the season.

The Cougars return to the Smith Fieldhouse to take on Pepperdine on Saturday at 7 pm.