Emotional Loss in NCAA Championship

Junior opposite Jonathan Alleman earned All-NCAA Tournament honors after recording 18 kills in the Cougars' 2-3 final-round loss to Lewis. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

LONG BEACH -- The Cougars made a valiant effort, but the Lewis Flyers came out with more determination and edged the No. 1 seed and top-ranked team in the country 44-42, 27-30, 21-30, 30-23, 12-15 to win their first-ever NCAA National Championship. The win is the first-ever national championship in Lewis history and the first time a team from the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association has won the championship.

"I have a lot of respect for (BYU) and their tenacity," said Lewis head coach Dave Deuser. "Determination is the only word I can use to describe my team throughout the tournament. They are a hard working, dedicated group of guys and they got what they wanted."

The teams battled it out for nearly three hours, with a first game going to 44 points and the teams taking it to the final two points of game five.

"It was an emotional Final Four and an emotional last match," BYU head coach Tom Peterson said. "In the fifth game it's hard to know how things will end up or what will happen. We were up and down and the momentum kept shifting. They ended up on top at the end, but it could have gone the other way. They had us down more than we had them down. Lewis has a good team; they played very well."

Gustavo Meyer, named MVP for the tournament, led the Flyers with a match-high 21 kills and added two aces, five digs and four blocks. The Flyers hit .260 on the match with 67 kills, 61 assists, five aces, 43 digs and 16.0 blocks. Fabiano Barreto added 18 kills, six digs and five blocks, and Kevin Miller chipped in 11 kills on the match. Libero Ryan Stuntz did an excellent job with 15 digs on the match.

BYU hit .211 with 73 kills, 71 assists, 10 aces, 42 digs and 14.5 blocks. Leading the Cougars was senior Rafael Paal with 20 kills, a BYU-record five aces and ten digs. Paal and Jonathan Alleman, who chipped in 18 kills, seven digs and five blocks for the Cougars, were both named to the All-Tournament team, as were Barreto and Stuntz for Lewis. Penn State's Carlos Guerra rounded off the All-Tournament team.

Chris Gorny and Alleman started the Cougars off with the first point in game one on a block, but Barreto came back with a kill on the next play to even the score. From there on it was a fight for every point, all the way into the forty-point range. Each team had several chances for game point, but then the other team would come back with a point or commit an error to tie or bring it within one.

Paal led BYU with eight kills in the first game and Meyer led Lewis with nine, but neither team hit over .300 in the first game. Finally, with the score tied at 42, Gorny knocked down a kill for the BYU lead and Michael Burke and Jaime Mayol combined for a huge block to win the game 44-42, the highest Tournament score in NCAA history.

Both teams looked a little better in game two, each hitting over .400 and toning down on the errors. From a tie at ten, Lewis went on a 12-2 run to take a ten-point lead. The Cougars followed with a good comeback effort with a 10-2 run led by Paal and Gorny, but the Flyers still held them off. At 22-24 the Flyers took off again with a 3-0 run and never let go of the lead. More errors kept the Cougars behind, and the Flyers won it on a Casey Patterson service error, 27-30.

With the match even at one, the Flyers had the momentum in their favor as they held the Cougars to a .000 attack percent and recorded just five attack errors to the Cougars' 12 in game three. BYU was able to bring the score to a tie at 12, but after that Lewis took over. Carlos Moreno was not setting well and got replaced by Casey Patterson when the Cougars were behind 19-27. Patterson's arrival made a small difference, but not enough as the Flyers scored only one more point on their own, a kill from Kevin Miller, but BYU committed two more errors to give Lewis the third game 21-30 for the lead in the match.

Moreno came back in for game four with some more momentum, but the star of the fourth game was Rafael Paal, who hit four service aces to give the team a spark. With the Cougars down 4-5, Paal came in and drove the ball to the other side for back-to back aces and the tie to get BYU back in the game. Paal served into the net on the the next point and Lewis took a 7-1 run for a comfortable lead, but Slabe came in and knocked down a kill for the Cougars to start them on a 6-2 run.

The teams battled out to a tie at 16, but BYU garnered six straight points, including two more aces from Paal, for a 22-16 lead. From there the teams battled back and forth, but BYU scored four points in a row from a 26-23 lead to win the fourth game on a Moreno ace, 30-23.

Going into the final game, Slabe was blocked to give the first point to Lewis. Jose Martins gave the next point to BYU on a service error, followed by a crowd-pleasing solo block from Moreno to give BYU the lead. It didn't last long, however, as Lewis scored four-straight points, followed by a hard kill from Paal then three more Lewis points. Down 3-8, the Cougars made a valiant effort to come back and brought it within one at 12-13 on a Slabe kill. Lewis was determined, however, and didn't give up.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, they lost it for themselves with two attack errors to give Lewis the game 15-13, the match 3-1 and the 2003 NCAA National Championship.

"There were little things that we missed too many times to lose this match," Slabe said. "The errors killed us. There was no free pass, or we would go and not have a perfect pass in crucial moment, in the net, foot call on a serve, etc. With little things it matters a lot."

The Cougars finish the season 23-7 and second-place in the NCAA Tournament. Lewis finishes with a final record of 29-5 as the 2003 NCAA National Collegiate Men's Volleyball Champions.

"I just thanked our guys in the locker room for making this year a great experience. My first year at BYU was a great experience, a great year," Peterson said. "Although it's disappointing to lose, and it will hurt for awhile after seeing such good players lose, the players made it great for me to be here."

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Volleyball Box Score

Lewis University vs Brigham Young (May 03, 2003 at Long Beach State)

Lewis University | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

## Name GP| K E TA PCT| A| SA SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

7 Soler, Jeff......... 5| 8 1 14 .500| 0| 1 3| 3| 5| 1 0 0| 0

10 Barreto, Fabiano.... 5| 18 14 47 .085| 1| 0 2| 0| 6| 2 3 2| 0

11 Meyer, Gustavo...... 5| 21 9 39 .308| 1| 2 4| 3| 5| 1 3 0| 1

12 Miller, Kevin....... 5| 11 4 22 .318| 0| 0 4| 0| 0| 2 3 0| 0

17 Elsea, James........ 5| 7 1 17 .353| 0| 2 5| 0| 3| 1 6 1| 0

18 Martins, Jose....... 5| 1 0 6 .167| 55| 0 2| 0| 9| 0 3 0| 0

3 Castellano, Jose.... 3| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 0 1| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0

9 Stuntz, Ryan........ 5| 1 0 1 1.000| 4| 0 0| 4| 15| 0 0 0| 0

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Totals.............. 5| 67 29 146 .260| 61| 5 21| 10| 43| 7 18 3| 1

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 16.0

Game K E TA Pct

1 20 8 42 .286 GAME SCORES 1 2 3 4 5 TEAM RECORDS

2 20 5 37 .405 Lewis University.... 42 30 30 23 15 29-5

3 12 4 27 .296 Brigham Young....... 44 27 21 30 12 23-7

4 8 8 25 .000

5 7 4 15 .200

Brigham Young | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

## Name GP| K E TA PCT| A| SA SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

3 Burke, Michael...... 5| 11 4 20 .350| 0| 0 0| 0| 1| 1 8 0| 0

5 Moreno, Carlos...... 5| 0 4 7 -.571| 66| 3 7| 0| 1| 1 3 0| 2

6 Gorny, Chris........ 5| 7 3 17 .235| 0| 1 3| 0| 3| 0 4 0| 0

7 Mayol, Jaime........ 4| 5 6 21 -.048| 0| 0 2| 0| 2| 0 2 0| 1

9 Paal, Rafael........ 5| 20 11 40 .225| 0| 5 5| 3| 10| 0 3 0| 0

12 Alleman, Jonathan... 5| 18 7 34 .324| 1| 1 3| 0| 7| 0 5 1| 0

1 Patterson, Casey.... 4| 0 0 0 .000| 2| 0 1| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0

17 Pessoa, Fernando.... 5| 0 0 0 .000| 1| 0 0| 1| 12| 0 0 0| 0

18 Slabe, Luka......... 5| 12 4 22 .364| 1| 0 2| 1| 6| 0 0 0| 0

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Totals.............. 5| 73 39 161 .211| 71| 10 23| 5| 42| 2 25 1| 3

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 14.5

Game K E TA Pct

1 26 12 52 .269 Site: Long Beach State (The Pyramid)

2 14 2 29 .414 Date: May 03, 2003 Attend: 4317 Time: 2:44

3 12 12 33 .000 Referees: Marvin Hall, Alan Stankaitis

4 14 9 30 .167 Triple Blocks: BYU 1

5 7 4 17 .176 NCAA MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS

Tags: Results