PROVO — BYU men’s volleyball represented three of the total 10 players named as AVCA All-Americans, speaking loudly to just how well the team was playing before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season.
Junior opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez, sophomore outside hitter Davide Gardini and senior setter Wil Stanley were named to the All-America First Team while senior outside hitter Zach Eschenberg received All-America honorable mention. This marks the second time in program history and the first time since 2001 that three Cougars have been named AVCA first-team All-Americans in one season.
Garcia Fernandez was named as a second-teamer in both 2018 and 2019, and was clearly having his best season to date this past year. The junior Puerto Rican was named the MPSF Player of the Year and proved particularly adept from the service line, where he managed to break BYU’s all-time service ace record (56) even though the season was cut short by a little over a month.
Garcia Fernandez also ended the season as one of the best all-around players in the nation, ranking 11th in kills per set (4.00), 19th in blocks per set (1.00), 23rd in attacks per set (7.98) and 25th in hitting percentage (.343).
An AVCA All-America honorable mention honoree as a freshman, Gardini put together a strong sophomore season to become one of the top players in the country. The outside hitter finished the season ranked 18th in hitting percentage (.370), 19th in points per set (4.31), 21st in kills per set (3.61) and 25th in digs per set (1.97).
Stanley ranked third among all setters in the NCAA with an average of 10.74 assists per set to receive his first All-America selection. The setter’s 655 total assists helped the Cougars rank second in the nation with a .358 hitting percentage. Stanley was a strength defensively for BYU as he was second on the team in digs per set (1.75) while averaging .689 blocks per set.
Those three were largely expected to earn awards prior to the season, but for Eschenberg, being named an honorable mention recipient wasn’t anticipated preseason.
The outside hitter was third on the team in hitting percentage (.300), kills per set (2.40), points per set (2.95), attacks per set (5.45), and aces per set (.218). He also averaged .636 blocks per set to help BYU lead the nation in the category (2.95).