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#2 BYU Volleyball falls to #1 Hawaii in five sets, splits series

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BYU falls for first time in 2020 season, splitting series with Hawaii.

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#2 BYU Volleyball played one of the best matches in BYU history on Thursday night, sweeping #1 Hawaii on their home court.

The next night, the Cougars were ready again, but faced a much tougher Hawaii side. BYU took a 2-0 lead, but it wasn’t enough as they slipped and let Hawaii control the last three sets. BYU fell in five sets 25-20, 25-22, 22-25, 23-25, 17-19.

The first set was a much different display from Hawaii than Thursday, but BYU still held Hawaii at bay and would win 25-20. BYU led 18-10, but Hawaii would come charging back and cut the lead to 20-17 for BYU. The Cougars were too much for the Bows, however, and increased their set win streak to 17.

The second set was dominated early by Hawaii, and they would create an 18-12 lead over BYU. The Cougars were not going to let them off easy, however, and came charging back. BYU would take the lead at 21-20, and after being tied at 22, would win the second set 25-22 with the impressive comeback, extending their set win streak to 18.

The third set was an excellent display by Hawaii, who burst out to a big lead early at 11-4. BYU would struggle to get close to the Bows, who would lead by seven still at 17-10. BYU called a timeout, and scratched it’s way back against the Bows, cutting the lead to 22-20 for Hawaii. The tension in the Stan Sheriff Center was palpable even on tv, especially after the Cougars 6 point comeback in the second set. The Bows would win the next two points, but BYU would be within two again at 22-24. Hawaii would call timeout, and would win the set 25-22, ending BYU’s set win streak and allowing the Bows to extend the match.

While the comeback fell short in the third, the fourth set was crucial for both teams. The Bows came out strong, but the Cougars held on close enough to keep the Bows within striking distance. BYU finally tied the set back up at 11, and would take the next point to lead 12-11. Hawaii would even it up again, but BYU would win the next point, only for the Bows to tie it up and 13 again. The Cougars and Bows would continue to trade points all the way to the end, trading leads the whole way as well. Hawaii would take a 24-22 lead on a Chaz Galloway block. BYU would get a late point, but the Bows held on to win set four and even the match up at 2.

The fifth set was all Hawaii early on, as they took a commanding 9-4 lead in the first to 15 set. BYU would then go on a furious 7-1 run, taking the lead at 11-10. BYU would take a 13-11 lead, but three straight points from the Bows gave them a match point opportunity at 14-13. BYU would even it up at 14, lose the next point, but then tie it at 15 again. A Hawaii point forced a third match point, and BYU would win the next point AGAIN in a thrilling point. Hawaii took the next point for their fourth match point opportunity, but yet again, the Cougars came through and evened it up at 17. The Bows weren’t done, however, and took the lead again, this time finishing it off with a 19-17 win.

Gabi Garcia Fernandez was phenomenal, and managed to break BYU’s single season ace record of 55 previously held by Taylor Sander. He had 21 kills and 3 aces, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to give the Cougars the win.

BYU drops their first match of the season, and is now 17-1. The Cougars were one win away from tying their record start of 18-0 from the 1999 season, a season in which BYU went 30-1 and won the national championship. It also ends BYU’s win streak of 17, the third longest in program history.

BYU could be #1 next week when the rankings come out, having split the series with the Bows. BYU had received four votes this past week leading into the matches with Hawaii, and with the Cougars sweeping one match and going to five sets in the second, the Cougars could see themselves make the jump past Hawaii.

BYU travels to Stanford next Friday in the second leg of their conference match up. BYU won the previous match in Provo in three sets, and leads the MPSF through their first round of conference matches. BYU leads second place Grand Canyon by two games through the first six.