Defending National Champions Set to Begin 2002 Season | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Defending National Champions Set to Begin 2002 Season

PROVO -- The BYU men's volleyball team, winners of the 1999 and 2001 NCAA National Championship will kickoff the 2002 campaign on Friday and Saturday, taking on nationally-ranked Stanford in the Smith Fieldhouse. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. (MST).

Friday's match will be televised locally on KBYU and nation wide on BYU-TV. Chris Tunis will call the action, while Chris McGown will lend expert analysis. General admission tickets will be available at the door only. Prices include $5 for adults, $4 for students and employees and $10 for family admission. All-Sports cards will be accepted at the door. Single-match reserved seats for both matches are $6 each and will also be available at the door. Fans interested in obtaining reserved season tickets may purchase those at the Marriott Center Ticket office until Thursday, Jan. 10 only. Prices for reserved season seats are $100 each or $25 with an All-Sports or Cougar-Club card.

Prior to Friday's match, the Cougars will be honored in a special pre-match ceremony that will feature the unveiling of the 2001 NCAA National Championship banner.

"Winning the championship in 1999 was terrific," BYU head coach Carl McGown said. "Winning it all again last year by beating UCLA was equally as great, however to see both Championship banners hanging from the rafters in the Fieldhouse will be deeply satisfying."

The defending champs will play host to MPSF foe Stanford, which finished last season 14-9 and ranked fifth in the final USA Today/AVCA Top-15 Poll. Stanford recorded 10 victories over nationally-ranked opponents last season, including a win over national runner-up UCLA. The Cardinal also spent time as the top-ranked team in the country last season.

Stanford returns three starters from last year's team, including All-Americans Curt Toppel and Marcus Skacel. As one of the top outside hitters in the MPSF a year ago, Toppel led the Cardinal with 364 kills and 22 aces. Skacel led Stanford with 149 digs and finished second on the Stanford roster with 309 kills, 41 blocks and 20 aces.

"Stanford has two of the best players in the league and one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history," McGown said. "They won the title in 1997 and are simply one of the premier teams in all of volleyball. Stanford will be a great opponent."

Stanford is under the direction of first-year coach Don Shaw, however he is no stranger to the game. Shaw established himself as one of the top coaches in collegiate volleyball history during his 16-year stint as Stanford's women's head volleyball coach. With the women's program, Shaw led the Cardinal to four NCAA Championships and eight PAC-10 titles. He posted an amazing record of 440-70 (.863) while with the women's program.

BYU leads the series with a record of 10-7, dating back to BYU's first season as an NCAA-sanctioned program in 1990. The Cougars have won four straight matches against the Cardinal including a pair of 3-0 victories last season at Maples Pavilion. BYU owns a 3-6 mark against Stanford in Provo, however the Cougars are 6-1 in Palo Alto.

The Cougars return 10 lettermen to the 2002 roster, including four returning starters. All-American Mike Wall headlines the group after leading the Cougars with 375 kills last season, averaging 4.4 kills per game. Joaquin Acosta returns for hi senior season after posting 258 kills, 20 aces and 80 digs. Jaime Mayol is back for his junior season after racking up 150 kills last season. Middle blocker Chris Gorny is expected to see increased playing time this season after competing in nine matches as a freshman. BYU will also look to newcomerRafael Paal, a transfer from Cal-Baptist, t middle blocker.

" We have two new middle blockers in the lineup and a new setter, so all we hope for is to play hard and profit from the match," McGown said. "As the season unfolds and our new players have time to develop we will become a terrific team, as we have some great returning players, especially our seniors Mike Wall and Joaquin Acosta."

McGown returns to the BYU bench for his 13th season. The two-time AVCA National Coach of the Year has posted a record of 182-124 (.595), including a record of 107-26 (.805) over the past five seasons.

Friday's match will mark the first of eight straight home matches, including contests against nationally-ranked opponents Pacific (Jan. 18-19), USC (Jan. 25-26) and Ohio State (Feb. 1-2).