PROVO, Utah -- The defending NCAA National Champion BYU men's volleyball team will kick off the 2000 campaign on Saturday, Jan. 8 against Loyola University Chicago. The match will be played in the 5,000-seat Smith Fieldhouse and will begin at 7 p.m. (MST). Tickets will be available at the door.
The match will mark the first contest of the season for both teams. The Cougars finished the 1999 campaign with a 30-1 record and claimed their first-ever national title. The Ramblers finished last season with a mark of 19-9, including wins over noteables such as Lewis and Ball State.
"A couple years back, Loyola came within one point of going to the Final Four," BYU head coach Carl McGown said. "They are a quality opponent and I believe will present a challenge for us in our season-opener.
"It is likely we will have six news guys on the court. I'm concerned about the way we're playing right now. And if we're not practicing well, I'm not sure how well we will be able to play during a match. We have a lot of room for improvement."
The Cougars will be without the services of big-man Mac Wilson, who will miss the first month of the season with a broken index finger. According to McGown, junior Scott Bunker has shown great strides and will take over for Wilson at middle blocker.
"Scott is a quick and powerful hitter," McGown said. "He is very capable of taking Mac's place in the lineup. But until he has played that position, it is hard to say how he will do. We'll just have to wait and see."
The two teams met on Nov. 18 when the Cougars traveled to the Windy City for a five-game pre-season exhibition match. After dropping the first four games, Loyola rallied to to take game five. Prior to that meeting, BYU handed the Ramblers a four-game (6-15, 15-9, 6-15, 8-15) road loss in 1997.
Before Saturday's match, BYU will honor the 1999 championship team by raising its National Championship banner in the Smith Fieldhouse.