EDMONTON -- The BYU men's volleyball team split matches 2-2 this weekend at the Seventh Annual Husky Oil Can-Am Challenge, as the NCAA won the tournament 10-6 over the Canadian opponents.
The Challenge gave the Cougars a chance to play top teams and see how they measure up to the NCAA teams at the tournament -- Pepperdine, Long Beach and UC Irvine.
"We found out what areas we need the most improvement on," head coach Tom Peterson said. "Overall, we need to have better ball control and play consistent. We had our good moments and we'll just keep improving."
The Can-Am Challenge brought four top NCAA teams against top Canadian teams in a unique country vs. country competition. BYU competed against only Canadian team and the matches will not go on BYU's record, but the Cougars can now work on their weaknesses as a team.
Pepperdine posted a undefeated 4-0 record for the Challenge to win the Best American Record.
In the first match Friday morning, the Cougars fell short 3-0 (16-25, 23-25, 20-25) against Saskatchewan, the 2003 CIS Silver Medalist. BYU middle blocker Michael Burke recorded a match-high nine kills and senior Fernando Pessoa posted a match-high six digs for the Cougars.
Freshman hitter Enoc Cardona had a good showing for his first match, hitting six-for-nine (.444). Adam Ens led Saskatchewan with 11 kills and six digs.
BYU rebounded for its second match on Friday and defeated Montreal 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 27-25). Senior middle blocker Chris Gorny recorded match-highs for the Cougars with 15 kills and four digs.
BYU led in kills and blocks against the UofM, including a blistering .857 hitting percentage by Burke (6-0-7). With different combinations of players, the Cougars showed improvement over the first match.
The team continued its solid play in the third match, battling Manitoba, 2003 CIS Champions, in a 3-1 (25-17, 25-17, 14-25, 25-23) win Saturday afternoon. In game one the Cougars registered a .619 hitting percentage with 15 kills on 21 attempts and two errors to give them the lead.
Gorny led BYU with 14 kills and seven digs, while senior outside hitter Joe Hillman added 13 kills and four blocks in securing the win. Senior libero Shawn Olmstead helped on defense with a match-high 12 digs. Mantitoba's Josh Klassen finished with a team-high 11 kills.
The host Alberta Bears handed BYU its second loss 3-1 (25-19, 25-15, 18-25, 25-19) Saturday night in the last match of the tournament. Cardona recorded a match-high 12 kills for the Cougars, as senior hitter Jonathan Alleman and senior middle blocker David Hyte both added seven kills.
Junior setter Carlos Moreno finished the match with 39 assists, five digs and two aces. Even though BYU led in kills and digs, Alberta led in overall hitting percentage (.420) and hit a blistering .615 percentage in game one.
"We had a lot of trouble with ball control and struggled with our passing," Peterson said. "The line-up changes helped in the third game against Alberta, but now we can see who we are and what we need to work on."
BYU's Carlos Moreno was named for the second time to the NCAA Tournament All-Star Team at the Can-Am Challenge.