Match Notes - BYU at UCLA

Russell Holmes (11) and Rob Neilson (14) will lead the Cougars against UCLA Thursday and Friday. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

NO. 2 COUGARS HIT THE ROAD TO PLAY UCLA

PROVO -- The No. 2 Cougars, 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, will hit the road for the first time this season and play No. 6 UCLA, Thursday and Saturday, Jan. 26 and 28 in Pauley Pavillion. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m.

"This is the biggest weekend of the season so far," BYU coach Tom Peterson said. "This will be our first time on the road and our first test away from the friendly confines of the Smith Fieldhouse. We need to win on the road. We cannot expect to win the league without winning on the road."

BYU picked up two MPSF wins by defeating UC Santa Barbara 3-1 and 3-0 last Friday and Saturday. In the first match, the Cougars got off to a hot start, getting 14 kills on their first 15 attempts to take a 25-12 lead. BYU won game one 30-17 and then lost game two and won the third. Trailing 25-20 in the fourth, the Cougars cut the lead to one but trailed 28-26, 29-28 and 30-29. Evans recorded a kill to tie the score at 30 and then a Gaucho hitting error gave BYU the lead. Victor Batista and Ivan Perez then blocked Evan Patak for the match-winning point.

The next night the Cougars swept Santa Barbara but only after another big comeback. Trailing 25-21 in game two, BYU outscored the Gauchos 9-3 to win the game and then go on to complete the sweep. Perez had 23 kill on Friday and 19 on Saturday to lead BYU. He was named the player of the week by the MPSF and the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Perez continues to lead BYU in kills per game at 4.82 and is hitting .362. Batista is averaging 3.00 kills and 1.55 blocks while hitting .444. Russell Holmes is hitting a team-best .466 while also leading the team in blocks at 1.64 per game.

Paul George leads UCLA in kills at 3.65 per game while Jamie Diefenbach leads the Bruins in hitting percentage at .490. Diefenbach is also the team's top blocker, averaging 1.42 per game. UCLA is 4-3 overall and 0-1 in the MPSF and is currently on a two-match win streak. These matches will be the 37th and 38th in the history of the series, with the Bruins leading 24-12.

Both matches can be heard live on the internet. Visit www.uclabruins.com for more information. BYU will be back in Provo next weekend for two matches against Pepperdine, Feb. 3 and 4.

MATCH NOTES

No. 2 BYU COUGARS (6-0, 4-0 MPSF) at No. 6 UCLA BRUINS (4-3, 0-1 MPSF)

Thursday and Saturday, Jan. 26 and 28, 2006 - 7 p.m. PST

Pauley Pavillion (12,800) - Los Angeles, California

Coaches: BYU, Tom Peterson (78-21 in fourth year, 330-151 overall)

UCLA, Al Scates (1,113-203 in 44th year, same overall)

Series: UCLA leads, 24-12, including last season's split in Provo, Utah

TV: None

Radio: Listen live both nights. Visit www.uclabruins.com for more information.

Web: None

LAST MATCHES - BYU vs. UC SANTA BARBARA

BYU improved to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the MPSF with two wins over UC Santa Barbara, Jan. 20 and 21. The Cougars had their best hitting game of the season in the first game on Friday, starting with 14 kills on 15 attempts (.933) to build a 25-12 lead. BYU went on to win 30-17 and hit .682 (17-2-22). The Cougars dropped the second game 37-35 despite several chances to win but came back to win games three and four, 30-23 and 32-30. In game four, BYU trailed 25-20 before storming back to win. With the score tied at 30, Evan Patak had a hitting error and then Victor Batista and Ivan Perez block him for the match-winning point. Perez had a season-high 23 kills. The Cougars earned the sweep the next night behind Perez's 19 kills and .571 hitting percentage. BYU had another comeback, this time in game two. The Cougars trailed 25-21 but fought back to win 30-28. Trent Sorensen came off the bench and registered a block that gave BYU its first lead of the game at 29-28.

THE POLLS

BYU maintained its No. 2 ranking in the 2006 CSTV/AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll. Long Beach State remained No. 1 and received the most first-place votes with 11. BYU was second with four first-place votes. Pepperdine received the other first-place vote. The Cougars remained No. 1 in the Volleyball Magazine poll.

PEREZ SWEEPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARDS

Ivan Perez swept the national and league weekly honors by being named the American Volleyball Coaches Association and Mountain Pacific Sport Federation Player of the Week for his play in No. 2 BYU's back-to-back wins over then No. 8 UC Santa Barbara. On Friday, the sophomore from Puerto Rico had a season-high 23 kills, hit .472 (23-6-36) and recorded six digs and four blocks in leading the Cougars to a 3-1 win over Santa Barbara. BYU started the match with 14 kills on 15 attempts, including Perez going six-for-six. Perez continued his hot play by pounding out a match-high 19 kills and hitting a season-high .571 (19-3-28) on Saturday. He also added three digs and three blocks for the match. His last block came on the final play of the match when he and Victor Batista blocked Evan Patak for the match winner.

For the weekend, Perez averaged 6.00 kills per game, hit .516 (42-9-64) and had 46 service return attempts without and error. On the season, Perez averages 5.32 points, 4.82 kills, 0.91 blocks and 1.59 digs per game while hitting .362. He has not recorded a single return error in six matches. In 2005, Perez was an AVCA second-team All-American. A BYU student-athlete has earned the AVCA national honor 14 times, the last being Rob Neilson on March 21, 2005.

GET YOUR BLOCK ON

Trent Sorensen, who sees limited time off the bench as a blocking specialist, made a big contribution Saturday in BYU's comeback win in game two. The Cougars trailed 25-21 but fought back to tie the score at 28. Sorensen subbed in and recorded a block to give BYU its first lead of the game. The Cougars then went on to win 30-28 and take a 2-0 lead in the match.

ALMOST PERFECT

The Cougars stormed out of the block on Friday with an impressive offensive display in a 30-17 game-one win over UC Santa Barbara. After Russell Holmes was dug on BYU's first hitting attempt, the Cougars registered kills on their next 14 attempts. At that point BYU was hitting .933 (14-0-15). The Cougars concluded the game with a .682 (17-2-22) percentage.

KINGS OF THE BLOCK

Through six games this season, BYU has out-blocked its opponents 77.0 to 41.0. The Cougars are averaging 3.5 blocks per game and have out-blocked their opponents in every match. Russell Holmes leads the team, averaging 1.64 per game while Victor Batista is second at 1.55. Holmes set a career high with 12 against Cal State Northridge, Jan. 13.

SAME LINEUP

Through six matches, the Cougars have gone with the same starting lineup and are undefeated. Victor Batista and Russell Holmes have started at middle, Ivan Perez and Taylor Evans have started on the outside, Rob Neilson has been the setter, Jonathan Charette has started at opposite and Brian Rowley has started at libero.

PIN-POINT PASSING

A big part of BYU's success can be attributed to its passing. In six matches and 22 games, the Cougars have recorded just 13 return errors, or 0.6 per game. Ivan Perez has been the top passer, returning 128 serves without an error. Brian Rowley has returned 175 serves and recorded just six errors and Taylor Evans has returned 168 serves and has six errors.

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