Hawai’i, BYU advance to NCAA men’s volleyball championship match

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NCAA men's volleyball 5/7/2021-bYU men's volleyball-Gabi Garcia Fernandez-Miki Jauhiainen-Davide Gardini
BYU puts up the triple block. from left of Gabi Garcia Fernandez, left, Miki Jauhiainen, and Davide Gardini against Lewis/BYU photo

Top-seeded Hawai’i swept UC Santa Barbara on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, and second-seeded BYU beat Lewis in four to set up Saturday’s National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship match.

Hawai’i (16-1), an at-large from the Big West, beat Big West-champion UCSB (16-5) 25-21, 25-18, 25-23. BYU (20-3), the MPSF champion, ousted MIVA-champion Lewis (21-3) 25-22, 25-15, 26-28, 25-20.

Hawai’i’s Colton Cowell hits past UCSB’s Randy DeWeese/Hawai’i photo

HAWAI’I 3, UCSB 0 — Hawai’i swept the Gauchos all three times they played this season. The Rainbow Warriors, coming off their upset loss to UC San Diego in the Big West tournament, got 32 of their 39 kills from three players.

Rado Parapunov led with 12 kills but hit .143. He had an assist, an ace, 11 digs, and five blocks, two solo. Colton Cowell had 10 kills, an assist, an ace, a block, and four digs. Patrick Gasman had 10 kills in 16 errorless attacks, a dig, and six blocks, two solo. Jakob Thelle had a kill in three errorless attempts, 32 assists, three aces, two blocks, and nine digs.

Hawai’i is in the NCAA national-title match for the fourth time. UH lost to Long Beach State in the 2019 final. There was no championship in 2020.

Third-seeded UCSB hit .170. Randy DeWeese led with 13 kills, a block, and seven digs. Ryan Wilcox had a match-high 13 digs, a block, and four kills, but hit negative.

BYU 3, LEWIS 1 — The Cougars hit .354 as five players had six or more kills, 17 by Gabi Garcia Fernandez. He hit .364 and had two assists, two aces, two blocks, and seven digs. Davide Gardini had 11 kills, two aces, two blocks, and six digs, and Zach Eschenberg had 11 kills, three aces, two blocks, and two digs. Wil Stanley had a kill in his only try, 43 assists, five blocks, and eight digs.

BYU is back in the last match of the season for the eighth time.  The program won it all three times, the last in 2004, and has lost in the final three times since, including in 2016 and 2017 to Ohio State.

Fourth-seeded Lewis got 13 kills from Ryan Coenen, but he hit .132. He had an assist, two blocks, and four digs. Tyler Mitchem had 10 kills with one error in 18 attacks to hit .500 and he had six blocks, but no aces and six serving errors. Kyle Bugee had nine kills, an ace, a block, and six digs. Kevin Kauling had a kill, 38 assists, two blocks, and a dig. He had no aces and five errors and Lewis finished with two aces and 22 errors.

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