SALT LAKE CITY — Still undefeated.
But it wasn’t easy for the fourth-ranked BYU men’s volleyball team.
Gabi Garcia Fernandez had a match-high 27 kills and two aces, and freshman Davide Gardini added 17 kills and 11 digs to help No. 4 BYU hold on for a five-set road win at Penn State, 25-22, 25-27, 28-26, 19-25, 15-13 Friday night in State College, Pennsylvania.
Wil Stanley dished out 53 assists and 10 digs, and Cyrus Fa’alogo supplied 10 kills and 10 digs for the Cougars, who improved to 3-0 on the young season before Saturday’s match at Saint Francis (Pa.).
"I was happy that we stayed focused in the fifth set," BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said in a statement from the team. "We talked about the ups and downs from this match and how we can be better in certain situations. Penn State competed well, and I felt we matched it on our side."
Matt McLaren led Penn State (1-2) with 16 kills and five digs, and Cal Fisher added 10 kills, nine digs and five blocks for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State served nine aces to just four for BYU, which out-hit the Nittany Lions .346 to .287 in the first four sets.
After falling behind 2-1 at home, Penn State used a 3-1 run to take a 21-17 lead in the fourth set, and Canyon Tuman helped the Nittany Lions end the set on a 3-0 run to take a 25-19 win and force a decisive fifth set.
An ace by Garcia Fernandez, the reigning Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and AVCA national player of the week after last week’s sweep of No. 7 Ohio State and No. 14 Ball State, set up a big block by Felipe de Brito Ferreira, lifting the Cougars to a 7-5 edge in the fifth set. Fisher tied the set at 11-11 with a tip block, but the Nittany Lions served an error on the next play, and Garcia Fernandez scored the next three points to lift the Cougars to a 15-13 win in the final set.
BYU plays at Saint Francis (3-0) on Saturday night in its second of six-straight road matches. The Cougars return home Feb. 14 to host Concordia Irvine in MPSF play.