Russell Holmes is fourth in the nation in blocks per game at 1.53. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
NO. 1 COUGARS BACK IN ACTION
The top-ranked Cougars will look to extend their four-match win streak when they take on Stanford in the Smith Fieldhouse, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. BYU is 12-2 overall and first place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation at 10-2 while Stanford is 4-14 overall and 2-10 in the MPSF.
"Stanford is a scrappy, hardworking team," BYU coach Tom Peterson said. "They may not have a very good record but any team in this league can bite you on any given night. We don't want to be outworked by them. We will have to play well to win."
BYU has not played since earning back-to-back sweeps over UC San Diego, Feb. 16 and 18. The Cougars have maintained their No. 1 status in the CSTV/AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll and the Molten/Volleyball polls. BYU was ranked No. 1 by both polls for the first time this season on Feb. 13 following two wins over USC.
The matches between the Cougars and the Cardinal will be the 27th and 28th meetings in the series. BYU leads 18-8 and holds an 8-2 advantage at home. Last season, the Cougars earned two 3-1 wins over Stanford. BYU has won five in a row in the Fieldhouse versus the Cardinal.
Stanford relies heavily on Ben Reddy for much of its offensive production. The senior opposite averages 4.89 kills per game while contributing 1.50 digs per game, second on the team. William Clayton is second on the team in kills at 2.46 per game while Chris Ahlfeldt is third at 2.41. Ahlfeldt leads the team in hitting percentage at .264 and Clayton is second at .263.
BYU was unstoppable in its first meeting with UC San Diego, hitting .573 (50-5-75), including .760 in game one. Both percentages were season highs. Taylor Evans had 13 kills on 17 error-less swings to lead the way. In the second match, the Cougars struggled, hitting .238 but still managing to earn a sweep. Russell Holmes led BYU with nine kills and seven blocks.
Holmes currently leads BYU in blocking at 1.53 per game, and is second in hitting percentage at .439. Ivan Perez leads the team in kills per game at 4.26 while Brian Rowley is first in digs at 2.06 per game.
A livestats feed will be available for both matches at www.byucougars.com/volleyball_m/. Both matches against Stanford can be seen live on CougarTV. Saturday's match will also be televised live on BYUTV. Visit www.byucougars.com for more information.
NO. 1 BYU COUGARS (12-2, 10-2 MPSF) vs. STANFORD CARDINAL (4-14, 2-10 MPSF)
Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4, 2006 - 7 p.m. MST
Smith Fieldhouse (5,000) - Provo, Utah
Coaches: BYU, Tom Peterson (at BYU: 84-23 in fourth year, career: 336-153)
Stanford, Don Shaw (at Stanford: 94-93 in seventh year, career: 533-163)
Series: BYU leads, 18-8, including last season's sweep by BYU in Stanford, Calif.
TV: Friday: CougarTV, live - Visit www.byucougars.com for information
Saturday: BYUTV and CougarTV, live
Radio: Friday: BYU Radio, live
Web: Live stats broadcast is available both nights at www.byucougars.com/volleyball_m/
LAST MATCHES - BYU vs. UC SAN DIEGO
The Cougars improved to 12-2 overall and 10-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with two sweeps over UC San Diego Feb. 16 and 18. In the first match, BYU hit a season-best .573 (50-7-75) and limited the Tritons to .012 (25-24-85) hitting. Taylor Evans led BYU with 13 kills and no errors and hit a career-high .765. Russell Holmes had a solid match, recording eight kills and five blocks while hitting a season-high .778. Yosleyder Cala was also hot, getting eight kills on 12 error-less swings. The Cougars pounced on UC San Diego early, hitting .760 (19-0-25) in game one and winning 30-16. BYU continued to play well offensively in games two and three, hitting .481 and .478. The Cougars had a harder time with UC San Diego in the second match. BYU struggled offensively, hitting just .238 (37-17-84). Holmes led the team in kills with nine and blocks with seven. Both were match highs.
BYU maintained its No. 1 ranking in the CSTV/AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll and the Molten/Volleyball Poll for the third-consecutive weeks. The Cougars reached the top spot after earning back-to-back home wins over USC, Feb. 10 and 11. BYU received all 16 first-place votes in the CSTV/AVCA poll for the second-consecutive week.
CALA DOMINATES TROJANS
Yosleyder Cala dominated USC Saturday, Feb. 11 when he recorded 26 kills and hit .622. It took the 6-8 freshman just 37 swings to reach the BYU season high as he recorded just three hitting errors. Cala used power and various tip shots to fool the USC blockers. He also added three aces, five digs and two blocks. Cala finished the match with 30.0 points.
Russell Holmes was BYU's most consistent player when the Cougars earned back-to-back sweeps over the Tritons, Feb. 16 and 18. In the first match, he hit .778 while picking up eight kills and five blocks. In the second match, when BYU was struggling offensively, he had nine kills, seven blocks and hit .438. For the week, Holmes averaged 2.83 kills and 2.00 blocks per game and hit .560.
CAN YOU DIG IT?
Brian Rowley had the best defensive weekend of his career when BYU defeated USC in back-to-back matches on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10 and 11. On Friday, he tied his career high with 14 digs in BYU's 3-1 win. On Saturday, he tied the BYU rally scoring record with 16 digs in the Cougars' come-from-behind 3-2 win. BYU lost games one and two on Saturday but dominated USC in games three, four and five to capture the win and improve to 9-1 at home. Rowley recorded 14 digs twice last season and his previous high this season was 11, which he accomplished against Cal Baptist and Cal State Northridge.
NATION'S BEST FANS
BYU fans continued to show their support for the men's volleyball team as several thousands showed up to cheer on the Cougars when they played USC. On Friday, Feb. 10, 3,263 attended the match while 2,718 came out on Saturday night, despite the fact that there was a men's basketball game that night starting an hour before the volleyball match. 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 3,823 fans per match, the best in the NCAA.