Jonathan Charette and the Cougars will conclude the regular season with two matches at Hawai`i. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
BYU CONCLUDES SEASON WITH MATCHES AT HAWAI`I
With the right to host a first round Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament match on the line, No. 4 BYU will conclude its regular season with two matches against second-ranked Hawai`i in Honolulu this weekend, Friday and Saturday, April 14 and 15. The Cougars are third in the MPSF at 14-6 and Hawai`i is second at 17-3.
BYU (18-6 overall) faces a Warriors team (21-4 overall) that has won 17-consecutive matches. Hawai`i is still in contention to win the MPSF regular season championship and the Cougars could finish anywhere from third to sixth in the league, depending on what they and Pepperdine (14-7 in the MPSF), CS Northridge (13-7) and Long Beach State (12-8) do this week.
"We both have a lot on the line this weekend," BYU coach Tom Peterson said. "We are fighting for the chance to host a first round match while they (the Warriors) are out to prove they are the best team in the league."
The matches will be the 34th and 35th meetings between BYU and Hawai`i. The Cougars own a 21-12 lead and have won the last six meetings, including two sweeps in Provo and a 3-1 win in Honolulu in 2005. Peterson is 7-1 against the Warriors since coming to BYU in 2003.
Hawai`i is the second hottest team in the country behind UC Irvine, which has won 19 match in a row. The Warriors do, however, own the tie breaker between the teams. Hawai`i is the top offensive team in the league, hitting at a .345 clip and averaging 16.35 kills per game on the season. Jose Delgado leads the team in kills per game at 4.33 and Lauri Hakala is second at 3.93 while hitting .363.
The Warriors' most recent victories were 3-1 and 3-0 wins last weekend against UC San Diego. During the 17-match win streak, Hawai`i has gone 15-0 against MPSF teams.
The Cougars are coming off back-to-back losses to Long Beach State on the road, April 6 and 7. BYU held a 2-0 lead in the first match but then allowed the 49ers to take the next three games. The Cougars won game one the next night but then dropped the next three. Russell Holmes recorded 17 blocks over the weekend and Victor Batista hit .435 (27-7-46) to lead BYU.
Holmes is making a strong case for All-America and All-MPSF status, hitting .462 on the season and averaging 2.46 kills and 1.50 blocks per game.
BYU will play in the first round of the MPSF Tournament Saturday, April 22.
NO. 3 BYU COUGARS (18-6, 14-6 MPSF) at NO. 2 HAWAI`I (21-4, 17-3 MPSF)
Friday and Saturday, April 14 and 15, 2006 - 7:00 p.m. HT
Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) - Honolulu
Coaches: BYU, Tom Peterson (at BYU: 90-27 in fourth year, career: 342-157)
Hawai`i, Mike Wilton (at Hawai`i: 281-117 in 13th year, career: 602-268)
Series: BYU leads, 21-12, including BYU's two sweeps in Provo and a win in Hawai`i last season
Radio: Visit http://uhathletics.hawaii.edu/broadcast.html to access live broadcasts for both matches
LAST MATCHES - BYU vs. Long Beach
BYU dropped two matches to Long Beach State, April 6 and 7, and is now 18-6 overall and 14-6 in the MPSF. The Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first match with 31-29 and 30-26 wins in games one and two. BYU then went flat, falling 30-26 and 30-22, in games three and four. The Cougars led 8-7 in game five but then fell behind 11-9 and could not recover as the 49ers went on to win 15-13. Yosleyder Cala had 19 kills and five blocks while Russell Holmes had 11 kills and nine blocks. BYU won game one 31-29 the second night but then Long Beach came back and won the next three games to win 3-1. Victor Batista led the Cougars with 14 kills and five blocks.
BYU fell to No. 4 in the CSTV/AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll after back-to-back losses to then No. 7 and current No. 5 Long Beach State. The Cougars previously held the second spot in the AVCA poll four-consecutive weeks. Prior to the No. 2 ranking, BYU held the top spot for four-straight weeks, starting Feb. 13 after two wins over USC, but fell to second after two five-game losses to current No. 1 UC Irvine. The Cougars are now No. 3 in the Volleyball/Molten poll.
UC Irvine and Hawai`i have locked up the top two spots in the MPSF while BYU and three other teams are fighting for the third and fourth spots, which both host a first round match. The Cougars are third in the MPSF at 14-6 with two matches versus Hawai`i remaining. If BYU earns a weekend sweep, it will finish alone at third in the league and host the No. 6 seed. If the Cougars split with the Warriors, they will finish at least tied for third and host a first round match as the third or fourth seed. If BYU loses both matches, it will need help from the other three teams to have a chance at hosting.
A LOOK AT HAWAI`I
Hawai`i is riding a 17-match win streak and is currently 21-4 overall and second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation at 17-3. The Warriors have clinched a spot in the MPSF postseason tournament and will host at least a first round match. UC Irvine leads the league at 18-2 in MPSF play and both teams have two remaining matches. Hawai`i owns the tie breaker between the teams. During the 17-match win streak, the Warriors have gone 15-0 in MPSF play after starting 1-2.
LAST TIME VS. HAWAI`I
BYU and Hawai`i played three times in 2005 with all three matches going to the Cougars. The first meeting was at the Outrigger Tournament, where BYU won 3-1 (30-28, 25-30, 30-28, 30-19) and finished 3-0 to win the tournament. Later in the season, the Warriors visited Provo ranked No. 3 in the nation and in third place in the MPSF at 9-3 while the Cougars were No. 6 and fifth in the MPSF at 7-5. BYU dominated Hawai`i both nights, winning 30-28, 30-19, 30-26 and 30-27, 30-24, 30-27. The Cougars had 35.0 total blocks (5.83 per game) in the two matches and limited the Warriors to .119 (72-50-185) hitting.
SERIES NOTES VS. HAWAI`I
The Cougars and Warriors will meet for the 34th and 35th times in the history of the series when they square off Friday and Saturday in the Stan Sheriff Center. BYU leads the series, 21-12, and and has won the last seven meetings between the teams, including three in 2005. The Cougars defeated the Warriors 3-1 in Hawai`i at the Outrigger Tournament and then swept them twice in Provo. Hawai`i does lead 8-7 in the Stan Sheriff Center.