Junior opposite Jonathan Alleman, who registered 60 kills in back-to-back matches against Stanford, will look to lead the Cougars over seventh-ranked UCLA this weekend. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
No. 3 Cougars Host No. 7 UCLA
After four matches on the road, the Cougars (3-1, 3-1) return to host Mountain Pacific Sports Federation foe UCLA (4-3, 1-2) on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in their first homecourt conference matches of the season. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m. MST at the Smith Fieldhouse.
A Quick Look at the Cougars
The Cougars have earned a 3-1 record on the season, sweeping Stanford in two matches and splitting wins with Pacific last week. Junior outside hitter Jonathan Alleman and sophomore middle blocker Michael Burke have stepped to the forefront on the BYU team after seeing limited action last year. The two newcomers have been team leaders in all four of the Cougars' matches this season, and Alleman was named the USA Today/AVCA National Player of the Week for his back-to-back 30-kill efforts against Stanford. BYU has eight letterwinners returning from last year's 23-7 team, including 2002 All-MPSF honorees Chris Gorny (middle blocker) and libero Fernando Pessoa, outside hitter Luka Slabe, opposite Jaime Mayol and setter Carlos Moreno.
Quotes from Coach Tom Peterson
UCLA is the perennial powerhouse in volleyball. Playing UCLA in the Fieldhouse is about as good as it gets. This is one of the biggest events of the year. It will be a tremendous match against a tremendous team.
Series with the Bruins
This will be BYU's 31st meeting with UCLA since 1990. The Bruins lead the series 22-8, but the two teams have split their last six matches. Last year the Cougars went 1-1 against the Bruins in Los Angeles.
The Bruins hold a 4-3 overall and a 1-2 MPSF record coming into the matches at BYU. Last week the Bruins split a pair of MPSF matches, dropping a five-game decision to Long Beach State on Jan. 23 and defeating UC San Diego 3-1 on Jan. 25. Junior Chris PeÂ±a led the Bruins with a career-high 21 kills (.645) and six block assists against the Tritons. Sophomores Paul Johnson and Jonathan Acosta added 14 and 13 kills, respectively.
Head coach Al Scates is in his 41st year with the Bruins and has guided them to a 1,044-174 (.857) record in the past 40 years. The Bruins have 12 letterwinners, including four starters, returning from last year's 25-7 team.
Junior opposite Jonathan Alleman was on fire Friday night against Stanford (Jan. 17, 2003), hitting a personal-best and match-high 30 kills (.458) in the 3-2 win for the Cougars. He was still burning Saturday night with a repeat 30-kill performance. Senior outside hitter Rafael Paal also played a stellar match Friday, recording his first double-double of the season with 20 kills (.485), 15 digs and four service aces.
Alleman Named National Player of the Week
BYU opposite side hitter Jonathan Alleman (Yorba Linda, Calif.) was name the AVCA Division I/II Men's Volleyball Player of the Week on January 20 after leading the Cougars to two 3-2 wins over Mountain Pacific Sports Federation foe Stanford. The Cougars swept the two matches by 3-2 scores. For the two matches, Alleman recorded 60 kills (6.0 pg), hit .489 and added 7 blocks and 12 digs.
BYU in the Polls
BYU has steadily climbed its way up in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top-15 polls since January 14. After starting the season ranked fifth in the preseason poll, the BYU Cougars are currently ranked third in the polls. Last year the Cougars finished the season ranked third in the nation.
Next week BYU will host UC San Diego on Feb. 7-8 at 7 p.m. (MST) in the Smith Fieldhouse. Tickets are available at the gate an hour and a half prior to game time for $6.