Match Notes - BYU vs. Pacific

Taylor Evans has been one of BYU's most versatile players this season, playing opposite, outside and libero. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

COUGARS TO FACE PACIFIC AT HOME

Looking to secure a top spot in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the No. 2 Cougars will play two league matches at home against the University of Pacific, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. The matches will be the final home contests of the regular season for BYU, which is 16-4 overall and second in the MPSF at 12-4.

"I think they're a team that you worry about," BYU coach Tom Peterson said. "They've defeated some good teams. They can beat us if we don't play well. They're fighting for a spot in the league tournament while we're fighting for a high seed and to host at least one match. There is a lot at stake this weekend."

Following the match on Saturday, the Cougars will honor their five seniors, Brian Rowley, Victor Batista, Taylor Evans, Rob Neilson and Josh Brecheisen.

Pacific comes to Provo with an overall record of 7-15, including a 5-11 mark in the MPSF. The No. 15 Tigers are coming off two 3-0 losses to third-ranked Hawai`i at home. Prior to having a bye last weekend, the Cougars defeated Ohio State and Rutgers-Newark in the Long Beach State Active Ankle Classic.

BYU has clinched a spot in the tournament and is currently third in the league standings. The top seed hosts the semifinals and finals and has a bye in the quarterfinals. Seeds two, three and four host a quarterfinal match. The tournament champion earns an automatic berth to the NCAA Final Four.

The Cougars lead the all-time series against Pacific at 14-5, including 9-0 in Provo. The teams split the season series in 2005, with BYU winning the first meeting 3-0 and the Tigers taking the second in four games.

Brian Adamson leads Pacific in kills per game at 4.34 while Andreas Baboulidis and Pekka Seppanen are second and third at 3.40 and 3.13 kills per game, respectively. Simon Chen-Byerley leads the Tigers in blocks per game (1.16) and hitting percentage (.342) while Mitch Hazelett sets the team to a .251 hitting percentage.

The Cougars rely on several players for offensive production as six players average two-or-more kills per game, led by Yosleyder Cala at 4.15 and Ivan Perez at 3.97.

Following its matches with Pacific, BYU will head to Long Beach State and play two matches against the 49ers, April 6 and 7.

MATCH NOTES

NO. 2 BYU COUGARS (16-4, 12-4 MPSF) vs. NO. 15 PACIFIC TIGERS (7-15, 5-11 MPSF)

Friday and Saturday, March 31 and April 1, 2006 - 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. MST

Smith Fieldhouse (5,000) - Provo, Utah

Coaches: BYU, Tom Peterson (at BYU: 88-25 in fourth year, career: 340-155)

Pacific, Joe Wortmann (at Pacific: 150-216 in 14 year, career: same)

Series: BYU leads, 14-5, including last season's split in Stockton, Calif.

TV: Live on CougarTV, Friday and Saturday

Radio: None

Web: Live stats broadcast is available both nights at www.byucougars.com/volleyball_m/

LAST MATCHES - BYU vs. Ohio State and Rutgers-Newark

The Cougars improved to 16-4 overall after defeating Ohio State and Rutgers-Newark at the Long Beach State Active Ankle Classic, March 17 and 18. BYU defeated Ohio State 3-1 in the first match behind 18 kills, 10 digs and five blocks from Ivan Perez. The Buckeyes took the first game, 30-27, but the Cougars bounced back to take games two, three and four (30-24, 30-21, 32-30) to claim the match. Rodrigo Gomes came off the bench to register a career-high 13 kills while Taylor Evans played libero and had 10 digs, a career high. In BYU's sweep of Rutgers-Newark (30-15, 30-21, 30-24), the Cougars out-hit the Scarlet Knights .351 to .060. Yosleyder Cala and Jonathan Charette had 12 kills apiece. Russell Holmes and Perez were named to the Active Ankle Classic all-tournament team.

THE POLLS

BYU maintained its No. 2 ranking in the CSTV/AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll and the Molten/Volleyball poll after two wins in the Long Beach Active Ankle Classic, March 17 and 18, and a week off. The Cougars held the top spot for four-straight weeks, starting Feb. 13 after two wins over USC, but feel to second after two five-game losses to current No. 1 UC Irvine.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

Russell Holmes and Ivan Perez were named to the Long Beach State Active Ankle Classic after leading the Cougars to wins over Ohio State and Rutgers-Newark. Perez had a match-high 18 kills to go with 10 digs and five blocks against Ohio State. He finished the weekend with 23 kills for a 3.83 per game average, 15 digs and six blocks while hitting .364. Russell Holmes had 10 kills and four blocks against Ohio State and hit .522 for the weekend.

STRONG SERVING IN LONG BEACH

The Cougars had their best serving weekend of the season when they defeated Ohio State and Rutgers-Newark at the Long Beach Tournament. Against Ohio State they had eight aces, including three from Jonathan Charette (tying his career high) and two apiece from Victor Batista and Rodrigo Gomes (a career high). On Saturday, BYU tied a team season-high with nine aces, led by Yosleyder Cala's four, a career high. The 17 aces was the highest weekend total for the Cougars this season.

THE ATTENDANCE RACE

BYU fans continued to show their support for the men's volleyball team at the last home matches as several thousands showed up to cheer on the Cougars when they played Stanford. On Friday, March 3, 3,728 attended the match, the sixth-largest home crowd of the season. On Saturday, despite playing at the same time of the final home game of the season for men's basketball, 2,025 came out to support the Cougars. BYU sold out both of its matches against Pepperdine and over 4,300 fans attended each night against Cal State Northridge and over 3,500 attended each night against UC Santa Barbara. The Cougars are now averaging 3,643 fans per match, second best in the NCAA.

A LOOK AT PACIFIC

Pacific comes to Provo with a record of 7-15 overall and 5-11 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Tigers are coming off back-to-back three-game losses to No. 3 Hawai`i. Prior to playing the Warriors, Pacific had won consecutive matches for the first time in 2006 by beating Cal State Northridge and UC Santa Barbara, both MPSF matches. The Tigers' other league wins came against UC San Diego, Stanford and USC. Brian Adamson leads Pacific in kills, averaging 4.34 per game. Simon Chen-Byerley leads in blocks per game at 1.16 and Mitch Hazelett quaterbacks the offense and averages 12.23 assists per game.

LAST TIME VS. PACIFIC

BYU and Pacific played twice in Stockton, Calif. in 2005. The Cougars swept the first match (30-25, 30-28, 30-24). Ivan Perez led te Cougars with 11 kills while Victor Batista added eight kills and hit .545. BYU out-hit Pacific, .259 to .195. The Cougars took game one in the second match in commanding fashion, winning 30-17. Pacific turned the tides, winning the next three games (30-24, 30-26, 30-25) to win the match. Perez had a big night for BYU, recording 24 kills, nine digs and hitting .588. Brian Zodrow had 20 kills for the Tigers while hitting .432.

SERIES NOTES VS. PACIFIC

The Cougars and Tigers will meet for the 20th and 21st time in the history of the series when they square off Friday and Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse. BYU owns a 9-0 advantage in Provo against Pacific. Five of those home wins have been sweeps while the other four went to four games. Last season, the Cougars and Tigers split two matches in Stockton. The first was a BYU sweep and the second was a four-game win for Pacific.

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