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.