Cougars Outlast Penn State in National Semifinal

Mac Wilson put away the match-winning kill against the Nittany Lions.

LONG BEACH -- The second-ranked BYU men's volleyball team knocked off Penn State in the semi-final round of the NCAA National Championship Tournament on Thursday, 3-1 (30-28, 28-30, 30-28, 30-26), at the Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif and will take on UCLA for the National Championship on Saturday. The Cougars will advance to the National Championship match on Saturday, May 5, taking on top-seeded and 18-time National Champion, UCLA. The Bruins earned the right to advance to the national final after nailing Ohio State, 3-1, earlier today.

"I think tonight's match was very well played by both teams," said BYU head coach Carl McGown. "Penn State is a very good team and threw some things at us that we just don't see very often. Fortunately we came up with some nice defensive plays and were able to win the match. There were several times throughout the match it could have gone either way."

The Cougars had three players in double digits, including Joaquin Acosta who led the teamwith 17 kills on 32 swings. All-American Mike Wall chipped in 15, while two-time All-American Scott Bunker added 10. BYU hit .383 on the night, while the Nittany Lions totaled a .390 average, led by Carlos Guerra who compiled a match-high 25 kills on 45 attempts (.422).

While both teams tried to figure out the other's offensive attack, the Cougars' defense came up big in games three and four, totaling a combined 18.0 blocks to Penn State's 5.0. Bunker led all defenders with 11 blocks, including two solos and nine assists. Acosta, along with senior Mac Wilson, the starting middle blocker for the Cougars during their NCAA title run in 1999, racked up five blocks. Penn State was unable to overcome 26 service errors on the night, including a combined 16 errors by Jose Qinones and Zach Slenker.

The win marked only the second victory over the Nittany Lions in BYU men's volleyball history, dating back to the 1990 season. Ironically, the first and only other victory over Penn State came in the national semifinals of the 1999 NCAA Final Four in Los Angeles. The Cougars defeated PSU, 3-1, and went on to knock off Long Beach State to win their first-ever National Championship. The Cougars improve to 22-4 on the season, while the Nittany Lions fall to 24-8.

The Cougars will face top-ranked UCLA on Saturday in the National Championship match at The Pyramid, beginning at 4 p.m. (PDT). The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 with Chris Marlowe and Heather Cox calling the action.

#10 Penn State vs Brigham Young (May 3, 2001 at NCAA Final Four   
Tags: Results