PROVO -- The top-ranked BYU men's volleyball team will play host to sixth-ranked Long Beach State in a pair of important Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches. The two teams will meet on both Friday and Saturday, March 23-24 at 7 p.m. (MST) in the Smith Fieldhouse.
The 49'ers enter this weekend's series with a 12-4 overall record, including a 7-3 league mark. Long Beach State has lost two of its last three matches, including a five-game defeat at USC and a four-game loss against Penn State. BYU returns to the court after defeating Concordia last weekend -- its fourth-straight win since falling at USC on Feb. 28. The Cougars have posted a 14-1 overall record and remain in first place in the MPSF's Mountain Division with an 8-1 league record.
"Eventhough they haven't won some of their recent matches, Long Beach State is a very good team," BYU head coach Carl McGown said. "They were ranked No. 1 to start the season and have had a nice season. They have one of the most powerful players in the league in David McKienzie and several other experienced players, including Jim Polster and Matt Prosser. Those guys are experienced, accomplished and are very good volleyball players."
McKienzie, a two-time All-American leads the LBSU roster with an average 5.17 kills per game. The 6-foot-4 senior set the NCAA single-match record with 58 kills during his last visit to Provo, leading the 49'ers to a five-game victory over BYU during the 1999 season.
McKienzie and company will be going up against a stingy BYU defense that ranks nationally with a 3.63 blocks per game average. The Cougars have also held opponents to just .201 hitting on the season, forcing over 385 errors at the net. Senior Scott Bunker leads the Cougar defense with 65 blocks, averaging 1.51 blocks per game. Fellow middle blocker Matt Olsen chips in an average 1.35 blocks per game.
Offensively, BYU will look to junior Mike Wall, who has produced an average 4.74 kills per match. Wall is hitting .402 on the season, connecting on a team-leading 199 kills. Olsen is hitting .532, while Bunker has produced a .497 average.
SPECIAL CEREMONY SCHEDULED
Following the second game in Saturday's match, the BYU men's basketball team will be on hand to "cut down the nets", in a ceremony honoring the Cougars for their first-ever MWC regular-season and tournament championship season. A basketball standard will be brought to the court and the Cougars will be able to cut down the net -- a celebration BYU was denied while at the MWC Tournament due to the women's championship game which was scheduled immediately following the Cougars' victory over New Mexico.
Friday's match will be televised live on KBYU with Chris Tunis calling the action and Chris McGown providing expert commentary. The match can be seen locally on KBYU, Ch. 11. Fans can also tune in to live coverage on BYU-TV via the Dish Network (Dish 500 system only), DirecTV and some cable systems. An audio stream is also available on the internet at www.byutv.org.
Â• Dish Network, Ch. 9403
Â• DirecTV, Ch. 374
Â• Cox Digital Cable (Phoenix area)
Â• Cable America (Mesa, Ariz., Ch. 97)
Â• Via the Internet at www.byutv.org