(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah – The top-seeded BYU men’s volleyball team welcomes three teams to the Smith Fieldhouse Thursday for the MPSF Semifinals. UC Irvine will play Long Beach State at 5 p.m. MDT and UCLA will take on the Cougars at 8 p.m. MDT.
BYU will also host the MPSF Championship Saturday at 7 p.m. MDT.
The Cougars reached the semifinals after edging out No. 8-seed Hawai’i 3-2 in the quarterfinals.
BYU is 23-4 overall and 21-3 in the conference, earning the MPSF regular season title by three matches. The title is BYU’s first since 2004. The Cougars clinched the No. 1 seed in the MPSF Tournament on March 30, the earliest a team has done so in MPSF history.
BYU has been ranked No. 1 in the nation 11 of the 15 regular season weeks, including seven-straight weeks to end the season. The Cougars carried a 12-match win streak during the season Feb. 16 – April 5.
Six Cougars earned All-MPSF honors, including Taylor Sander taking Player of the Year and Ben Patch garnering Freshman of the Year. Both were named to the All-MPSF First Team, along with Russ Lavaja. Ryan Boyce was named to the All-MPSF Second Team, and Josue Rivera earned All-MPSF Honorable Mention. Michael Hatch joined Patch on the All-MPSF Freshman Team.
BYU leads the MPSF in hitting percentage (.328) and blocks (2.89).
Chris McGown is in his second year at the helm of the Cougars and has a 48-11 career record.
No. 4-seed UCLA earned a berth in the semifinals after routing No. 5-seed Pepperdine in three sets. The Bruins, who have captured 10 of their last 11 matches, improve its record to 21-10 on the season.
UCLA ended the Cougars’ 12-match win streak with a 3-0 sweep at Pauley Pavilion on April 6. BYU captured the other regular season match 3-0 in Provo. The Bruins lead the overall series 30-24.
UCLA is first in the MPSF in service aces with 1.47 per set. Gonzalo Quiroga’s 0.48 ace average is good for the top spot in the conference.
John Speraw is in his first year as the head coach of the Bruins and his 11th overall.
No. 2-seed UC Irvine rallied to a quarterfinal win in the final two sets and defeated seventh seed UC Santa Barbara 3-2. The Anteaters improve to 23-6 overall and extend their winning streak to six in a row.
The Anteaters dropped both regular season matchups with the Cougars. BYU also owns the overall series, 41-12.
UC Irvine holds the top spot in the MPSF in opponent hitting percentage, holding opponents to a .237 clip. Scott Kevorken and Collin Mehring hold the No. 1 and No. 2 hitting percentage, respectively, with a .487 and .480 clip.
David Kniffin was named UC Irvine’s head coach this past offseason.
Long Beach State
Third-seeded Long Beach State swept No. 6-seed Stanford in the quarterfinals Saturday at the Walter Pyramid. With the win, the 49ers advance to the semifinals for the second time in the last three years.
BYU and Long Beach State exchanged regular season matches with the 49ers capturing a 3-2 win in Provo before the Cougars swept Long Beach State 3-0 in California. BYU has the edge in the overall series with a 25-20 advantage.
The 49ers are No. 1 in digs in the MPSF with a 9.60 average. Taylor Gregory is first in blocks with 1.43 per set.
Alan Knipe is in his 10th year as head coach at Long Beach State.
Tickets are available for purchase at BYUtickets.com. All-session general admission passes and reserved seating are now on sale. Individual session passes will be available starting Thursday, April 25th at 9 a.m. MDT.
The BYU vs. UCLA match will be available on BYUtv and BYUtvSports.com.
Live stats will be available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.