(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
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BYU finished the 2006 season with an overall record of 18-9 and tied for fourth in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation at 14-8. The Cougars were ranked No. 1 in the CSTV/AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll for four-consecutive weeks during the season and were No. 2 for a total of eight weeks. BYU finished the season ranked No. 7.
The Cougars' season ended in the quarterfinals of the MPSF tournament where they fell to Long Beach State in four games. The 49ers took games one and two but BYU came alive in the third, winning 30-25, before falling in the fourth. It marked the second-consecutive season BYU lost in the quarterfinals of the MPSF postseason tournament.
Coach Tom Peterson is now 90-29 (.756) overall and 66-22 (.750) in the MPSF in four seasons with the Cougars. His teams have qualified for the MPSF postseason tournament all four years and won the tournament in 2003 and 2004, earning automatic bids to the NCAA Final Four. In 2003, he led BYU to a runner-up finish in the NCAA Final Four and in 2004, he led the Cougars to a national championship, defeating Long Beach 3-2.
BYU's 18-9 record in 2006 marks the 10th-consecutive winning season and 13th in 14 years. The Cougars only have four losing season in program history. The 2006 campaign marks the eighth-consecutive season the team has won at least 18 matches but ends a streak of five-straight 20-win seasons.
The Cougars started the season with seven wins, its longest winning streak of the year. Five of the matches were MPSF matches. Their first loss was a 3-2 to UCLA on the road, the eventual national champions. BYU defeated the Bruins 3-1 the night before. After a win and a loss against Pepperdine, the Cougars won six in a row before dropping two at UC Irvine. BYU then won four more before dropping its last five of the season.
HOLMES RECEIVES ALL-AMERICA HONORS
The AVCA named middle blocker Russell Holmes a second-team All-American. The honor marks the 16th-consecutive season a BYU men's volleyball player has received All-America status. Holmes, a sophomore from Fountain Valley, California, is the 21st Cougar in the program's history to be recognized as an All-American. He is also the eighth BYU middle blocker and seventh player from California to earn All-America honors. Holmes was the only Cougar to start every match and play in all 104 games in 2006. He established himself as one of the most dominant middle blockers in the country, ranking sixth in the nation in hitting percentage (.456) and eighth in blocks per game (1.49). Holmes was one of only four players in the country to finish the season in the top 10 in both categories. Holmes finished the season with 155 blocks (143 assists, 12 solos), a total that is tied for second most in a season since rally scoring began in 2001. His 143 block assists tied him for the fifth most in school history. Against Cal State Northridge, Holmes set a career-high with 12 blocks (10 assists and two solos), tied for the second-highest BYU rally scoring total.
BYU finished the season ranked No. 7 in both the CSTV/AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll and the Molten/Volleyball poll. In the CSTV/AVCA poll, the Cougars were No. 2 for a total of eight weeks and No. 1 for four weeks. They started the season at No. 4 were also ranked fifth and sixth. In the Volleyball poll, BYU was ranked first for a total of six weeks.
Five Cougars Named All-MPSF
The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation named five Cougars to its men's volleyball all-conference teams. Sophomore Russell Holmes received the highest honors, being named to the second team while freshman Yosleyder Cala was named to the third team. Seniors Rob Neilson and Victor Batista and sophomore Ivan Perez received honorable mention status. The 2006 season marks the seventh-straight year BYU has placed at least four student-athletes on the All-MPSF teams. The Cougars had six players honored in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004, five in 2003 and 2006 and four in 2002 and 2005. During league play, Holmes hit .462 and averaged 1.53 blocks per game, ranking third and fourth in each respective category. Cala led the team in kills per game at 4.02, was second with 17 aces and hit .368. He also averaged 1.33 digs and 0.71 blocks per game. Batista hit .414 and averaged 1.12 blocks per game and 2.51 kills per game. Perez was second on the team in kills per game at 3.62 and also averaged 1.46 digs and 0.69 blocks per game during league play. Neilson set the team to a .327 hitting percentage during league play, tied for second best in the MPSF. He finished fifth in the league in assists, averaging 13.35 per game.
ACTIVE ANKLE CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Russell Holmes and Ivan Perez were named to the Long Beach State Active Ankle Classic after leading the Cougars to wins over Ohio State and Rutgers-Newark, March 17 and 18. Perez had a match-high 18 kills to go with 10 digs and five blocks against Ohio State. He finished the weekend with 23 kills for a 3.83 per game average, 15 digs and six blocks while hitting .364. Russell Holmes had 10 kills and four blocks against Ohio State and hit .522 for the weekend.
CALA-BRATE GOOD TIMES
Yosleyder Cala had one of the best matches by any player in the nation during the 2006 season on Friday, March 10, against UC Irvine. For the match, he had 32 kills, a BYU team-season high and a career high for the freshman outside hitter. He also had a career-best 14 digs and added five blocks and two aces. Cala hit .444 for the match.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
BYU finished its home regular season with a 13-1 record, a winning percentage of .929. The record ranks fourth in Cougar history behind the 1998 (11-0, 1.000), 2004 (16-1, .941) and 1999 (15-1, .938) seasons. BYU started with seven-consecutive home wins before losing to Pepperdine and finished with six wins in a row. The Cougars also set a new attendance mark in 2006, as at least 2,000 fans attended every home match for the first time in school history. BYU averaged 3,516 fans per match, the second highest average in school history, behind the 1999 season when 4,748 attended each match.
PEREZ SWEEPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARDS (Jan. 23)
Ivan Perez swept the national and league weekly honors by being named the American Volleyball Coaches Association and Mountain Pacific Sport Federation Player of the Week for his play in then-No. 2 BYU's back-to-back wins over then-No. 8 UC Santa Barbara. On Jan. 20, the sophomore from Puerto Rico had a season-high 23 kills, hit .472 (23-6-36) and recorded six digs and four blocks in leading the Cougars to a 3-1 win over Santa Barbara. BYU started the match with 14 kills on 15 attempts, including Perez going six-for-six. Perez continued his hot play by pounding out a match-high 19 kills and hitting a season-high .571 (19-3-28) on Jan. 21. For the weekend, Perez averaged 6.00 kills per game, hit .516 (42-9-64) and had 46 service return attempts without and error. In 2005, Perez was an AVCA second-team All-American.
CAN YOU DIG IT?
Brian Rowley had the best defensive weekend of his career when BYU defeated USC in back-to-back matches on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10 and 11. On Friday, he tied his previous career high with 14 digs in BYU's 3-1 win. On Saturday, he tied the BYU rally scoring record with 16 digs in the Cougars' come-from-behind, 3-2, win. BYU lost games one and two on Saturday but dominated USC in games three, four and five to capture the win. Rowley recorded 14 digs twice in 2005.