Thursday's match will be broadcast via the internet at http://www.byucougars.com. The broadcast of both the Long Beach State vs. UCLA and BYU vs. Hawai'i matches will feature a reloadable text account of the action, as well as game-by-game stats. The match will also be broadcast live on KFVE, Ch. 5 in Hawai'i. Jim Leahey will call the action with Chris McLachlin lending expert commentary. Satellite coordinates for the match are: Telstar 5; transponder K-12. KCCN Rainbow Sports Radio (1420 AM) in Honolulu will also carry the game, featuring Kevin Hashiro as the play-by-play specialist.
The top-ranked BYU men's volleyball team will take on No. 2 Hawai'i in a rematch of two weekends ago, when the Cougars upset then top-ranked Hawai'i in back-to-back matchest in Provo. The result: Hawai'i dropped its chances of being a No. 1 or 2 seed and the opportunity to host the MPSF Tournament, all the way to a No. 4 seed, setting up Thursday's re-match. The two-match victory also propelled BYU back to the No. 1 ranking, dropping the Warriors to No. 2.
THE BYU-UH RIVALRY
Thursday's semi-final match will mark the 23rd meeting between the two teams, dating back to the 1990 season with the Cougars holding a slight 13-9 lead in the rivalry. BYU has posted a mark of 9-1 in Provo, including a streak of six straight wins at home. The Warriors' last victory in Provo came on March 10, 1995, knocking off the Cougars 3-2 in the Smith Fieldhouse. After Hawai'i won five of the first seven meetings in the series, BYU has come back to win 11 of the last 15 matches, including five straight victories, dating back to the 1999 season.
WINNING THE BATTLE OF THE BEST
Earlier this season, second-ranked BYU faced No. 1 UCLA in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars came away victorious, posting a 3-1 win over the Bruins. On March 3, BYU, then ranked No. 1, traveled to No. 2 Pepperdine, recording a 3-2 win over the Waves. On April 13-14, the second-ranked Cougars played host to No. 1 Hawai'i, defeating the Warriors on back-to-back nights. This season BYU is a perfect 4-0 in No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups. Hawai'i enters this weekend's series as the No. 2 team in the country, while BYU is ranked No. 1.
FIELDHOUSE TO HOST NATION'S ELITE
The Cougars will play host to the top-four teams in the country during the semi-final and final rounds of the MPSF Tournament, April 26-28. In this week's USA Today/AVCA Coaches' Top-15 Poll, the Cougars are ranked No. 1, while their semi-final round opponent is No. 2 Hawai'i. Long Beach State, the third-ranked team in the nation will take on No. 4 UCLA. BYU has posted a 4-1 mark against this week's top-four teams, including back-to-back wins over Hawai'i, a 3-1 victory over UCLA and a split with Long Beach State.
BYU IN THE POLLS
The April 24th USA Today/AVCA Coaches' Top-15 poll marks the seventh week the Cougars have been ranked as the No. 1 team in the country, including the third week BYU has earned all 16 first-place votes. The Cougars have spent more weeks at No. 1 than UCLA, Long Beach State and Hawai'i combined.
THREE AND DONE
Including back-to-back 3-0 wins over No. 5 Stanford on April 2-3 and a 3-0 win over No. 1 Hawai'i on April 13, the Cougars have notched 14 three-game victories on the season. Eight of those 14 wins were against nationally-ranked opponents, including four wins against opponents ranked in the top-10. The Cougars have posted the most 3-0 wins in the MPSF, followed by Hawai'i with 10 and UCLA with nine. BYU is the only team in the MPSF which has not lost a 3-0 game this season. All 11 other teams have been shutout at least once, including UCLA, Hawai'i and Long Beach State. The 2001 season marks the most 3-0 wins since the Cougars recorded 20 three-game victories en route to the NCAA National Championship in 1999. This season also marks only the second time in school history BYU has avoided a 3-0 defeat. From Jan. 31-Feb. 17, the Cougars laced together a streak of five straight 3-0 wins, equaling the school record for consecutive three-game victories.
THE DEEP BIG BLUE
The key to the Cougars' run this season can be defined in one word, depth. In several matches this season BYU has used up to 10 players, including true freshman Fernando Pessoa who has played in a team-leading 81 of the Cougars' 86 games at libero. In fact, 10 different players have played in 40 or more games this season. Two of the three BYU middle blockers average over 2.20 blocks per game, while the trio average 1.5 blocks each per game. Of the attack specialists, five different players have combined to total 64-percent of the Cougars' total kills, including All-America candidates Mike Wall with 344 and Joquin Acosta with 210. The five have combined to hit an impressive .374 on the season, led by Wall who has hit an amazing .376 on a team-leading 655 attempts. Setter Hector Lebron has played in 80 of BYU's games, while backup Jeremiah Larsen has come of the bench in 11 contests to average over eight assists per game.
20 AND COUNTING
The Cougars record of 21-3 marks the second time in the past three seasons BYU has registered 20 or more wins in a single season, including the Cougars' school-record 30-1 campaign during their NCAA Championship run in 1999. BYU has posted four 20-win seasons since 1994 -- the Cougars first-ever 20-win campaign.
While UCLA has posted a 143-26 league record, dating back to the 1993 season, BYU ranks second with a mark of 120 wins and only 50 losses in league competition. Hawai'i ranks a close third with a 117-53 league mark over the past nine seasons.
ANOTHER CAREER MILESTONE FALLS
With the Cougars' 3-1 win over UC Irvine in the first round of the MPSF Tournament, BYU head coach Carl McGown recorded his 180th career victory. McGown is in his 12th season at the helm of the BYU men's volleyball program. The 1999 MPSF and AVCA National Coach of the Year has posted a career mark of 180-123 (.594) over the past 11 seasons, including a school-record 30-1 season in 1999. Since the 1997 campaign, McGown has averaged nearly 21 wins per year, recording a mark of 105-25 (.808). McGown led BYU to its first-ever National Championship in 1999 and has served as coach and as an advisor for the United States Olympic and National teams in various Olympic and international competitions.
ACOSTA NAMED NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Joaquin Acosta, a 6-5 junior outside hitter, was named the AVCA/Sports Imports Division I/II National Player of the Week, following the Cougars' back-to-back wins over No. 1 Hawai'i on April 13-14. The San Juan, Puerto Rico native averaged 3.63 kills and 1.38 blocks in leading BYU on both the offensive and defensive ends. He contributed a team-high eight kills, along with five blocks and two digs, against the Warriors in a 3-0 win on April 13. His defense at the net helped limit Hawai'i to a .086 team attack percentage during the match. Acosta produced a season-high 21 kills to pace the Cougars to a 3-2 victory over the Warriors on April 14. He added six blocks
and a .333 hitting percentage during the second match. Acosta hit at a .309 average for the week against the Warriors over the course of eight games.
True freshman Jonathan Alleman set a BYU single-game record with five aces against UC San Diego on Feb. 9, leading the Cougars to a 30-16 win in game one. Alleman's match-high 14 kills paced BYU to a 3-0 win over the Tritons. Scott Bunker leads the Cougars with 21 aces, followed by Joaquin Acosta with 19. Alleman ranks third with 14, while Matt Olsen has posted 13 on the season. The foursome has posted 67 of the Cougars' 99 aces on the season, averaging .78 aces per game. All totaled five players have reached double figures in kills this season, including Luka Slabe, who has recorded 11 aces.
LAST TIME OUT
The Cougars advanced to the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament after defeating eighth-seeded UC Irvine, 3-1, on Saturday, April 21 in Provo. The Anteaters posed a tough challenge, forcing a fourth game after winning game two, 34-32. The Anteaters challenged again in game three, but the Cougars rallied to post a 30-28 win and went on to a 30-18 victory in game four. Again, it was the BYU defense that kept the Cougars alive, outblocking the Anteaters 21.0 - 7.0. The Cougars held UCI to a .170 average at the net, forcing 36 attack errors on 141 swings. All-American Scott Bunker led BYU with 11 blocks, marking his third match (in the last four contests) he has recorded double-figures in blocks. Bunker was assisted by Joaquin Acosta who chipped in eight blocks, while Mike Wall and setter Hector Lebron each had six. Offensively, the Cougars hit .409 on the night, led by Lebron who fueled the performance with a match-high 66 assists. Four Cougars totaled double-figures in kills, led by Wall's 19 kills and Acosta's 16. Lebron also added a team-high nine digs and six blocks.
HOME SWEET HOME
With an 13-1 record in the Smith Fieldhouse, the Cougars have posted an impressive 53-4 (.930) record in Provo since the 1998 season and a 66-6 (.917) overall mark at home since the 1997 campaign. As one of the most popular sporting events on campus, over 173,000 fans have packed the Smith Fieldhouse and Marriott Center to watch the Cougars. BYU has averaged nearly 3,400 fans per match since the 1997 season, including a record 4,748 fans per match in 1999. On Feb. 19, 1999, BYU defeated Hawai'i, 3-1, in front of 14, 156 fans in the Marriott Center to set the NCAA single-match attendance record. The Cougars recorded a Smith Fieldhouse record on Feb. 23 when 6,119 fans were on hand for the four-game victory over No. 1 UCLA. Five of the Cougars' top-six games in the Smith Fieldhouse have been against the Bruins, with the previous all-time SFH record set at 5,864 against UCLA on March. 28, 1997.
BYU IN THE MPSF
The Cougars are making their seventh appearance in the MPSF Tournament, marking the fifth straight year BYU has earned a trip to the postseason. The Cougars have recorded a 8-6 all-time mark in the league's post-season tournament, including a record of 4-1 in the last four tournament matches. BYU has posted a 5-3 record in first-round games, including a 3-1 victory over UC Irvine in the opening round of the 2001 MPSF Tournament. BYU has gone on to record a 2-2 mark in semi-final action, and a 1-1 record in the championship round.
AN AUTOMATIC BID AT STAKE
The winner of the MPSF Championship will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA National Championship Tournament in Long Beach, Calif., on May 3-5. The Cougars will need to defeat Hawai'i, as well as knockoff the winner of the Long Beach State - UCLA match. The Cougars last met Hawai'i in the MPSF Tournament during the semifinals of the 1999 tournament in Provo. The Cougars defeated the Warriors, 3-0, earning the right to face USC for the MPSF title and coveted automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. BYU battled a young, but feisty USC club to a 3-1 victory, earning its first-ever MPSF Championship. BYU represented the nation's toughest conference by eliminating Penn State, 3-1, and avenging an early-season loss to Long Beach State, 3-0, to win the National Championship. Two other conferences will have an automatic bid to the Final Four, in addition to only one at-large berth. Since nine of the top-10 teams in the country are from the MPSF, it is likely a team from the league will receive the at-large invitation.
COUGS CLAIM MPSF REGULAR-SEASON TITLE
With back-to-back wins over top-ranked Hawai'i on April 13-14, the Cougars claimed their second regular-season MPSF Championship title in the past three season. The Cougars posted a league-best 14-3 mark on the year, posting a perfect 5-0 mark against Mountain Division opponents and a 9-3 record against Pacific Division teams. BYU's league record marks the best regular-season clip since going 18-1 during the 1999 season. BYU posted a 10-match win streak to start the season and has recorded a current five-match win streak, since dropping a four-game thriller against Long Beach State on March 24.