BYU looks to extend its home winning streak when it welcomes no. 2 UC Irvine to the Smith Fieldhouse. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Newly annointed No. 1 BYU will have its hands full holding on to the top ranking as the Cougars welcome No. 2 UC Irvine to the Smith Fieldhouse for a pair of weekend matches Friday and Saturday. BYU took over the top spot from the Anteaters after the Cougars' defeats of No. 9 Penn State and No. 13 Loyola-Chicago in Honolulu. BYU have a shot at revenge after losing consecutive matches to UCI last season.
Despite last season's sweep by the Anteaters, BYU has dominated the overall series between the two teams. After dropping the first four matches between the two teams, the Cougars beat UC Irvine 17 consecutive times and 28 of the next 29 matches. Last seasons' consecutive losses to UCI marked the first time the Anteaters beat BYU in consecutive matches since 1991. The last time UC Irvine beat BYU at the Smith Fieldhouse was February 21 and 22, 1991.
ALL-OUTRIGGER HOTELS INVITATIONAL
Over half of BYU's starting line up was recognized for their efforts last weekend by being named to the Outrigger Hotels Invitational's All-Tournament team. Russell Holmes, who was also named AVCA National Player of the Week, was also named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Also recognized was outside hitter Yosleyder Cala, opposite hitter Robby Stowell and setter Yamil Perez.
LAST WEEK RECAP
FRIDAY--Russell Holmes and Robby Stowell, coupled with hot serving, led No. 2 BYU to a dominating sweep over No. 9 Penn State (1-2), 30-22, 30-23, 30-18. The sweep was the fifth consecutive for the Cougars. Holmes dominated the middle, leading the Cougars in kills (11), blocks (six) and hitting percentage (.667). Stowell added 11 kills of his own while swinging at a .474 mark. Ivan Perez (four aces) and Yosleyder Cala (three aces) were dominating behind the service line.
SATURDAY--It was the eighth consecutive victory and sixth consecutive sweep for No. 2 BYU as the Cougars swept No. 13 Loyola-Chicago, 30-16, 30-22 and 30-22. The dominating BYU win came just one night after the Ramblers upset No. 3--and tournament host--Hawaii in five games. Interestingly, BYU did not trail at any point in any of the sets against Loyola Chicago. Russell Holmes was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Yosleyder Cala, Robby Stowell and Yamil Perez were also named to the Outrigger Hotels Invitational's All-Tournament team.
BYU is off to its most dominating start in program history (in terms of sets won vs. sets lost) in its first eight matches. BYU has won 24 sets against only one loss. Previous to this season, the next best start in school history was the 2001 championship season when the Cougars started 10-0. In its first seven matches, BYU won 24 sets while losing two sets (both against Lewis). The Cougars swept eight of their first 10 matches in 2001.
BRING OUT THE BROOMS
With the Cougars sweep over Loyola-Chicago Jan. 27, it marked a record sixth consecutive match BYU won in straight sets. Previously the record was in 2001 when the Cougars swept five consecutive matches. The record for sweeps in a season was the 1999, 30-1 National Championship squad that swept 20 matches.
HOME WINNING STREAK
With BYU's 4-0 start, the Cougars have now won 10 consecutive home matches. The last time BYU lost at home was Feb. 4, 2007 when the Cougars lost, 3-0 to Pepperdine. BYU was 13-1 last season at the Smith Fieldhouse.