Match Notes - BYU vs. UC Santa Barbara

Jonathan Charette and the Cougars will play UC Santa Barbara Friday and Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

NO. 2 COUGARS TO FACE GAUCHOS

The No. 2 Cougars will put their perfect record on the line this weekend with two matches against No. 8 UC Santa Barbara in the Smith Fieldhouse Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. BYU (4-0 overall, 2-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) is tied for first in the MPSF while the Gauchos are 2-3 overall and 1-1 in league play.

"I'm happy with our record," BYU coach Tom Peterson said. "But we need to keep playing better. We will need to be on top of our game this weekend. Our passing will be a big factor."

BYU swept Cal State Northridge last weekend to get off to a 2-0 start in league play. The Cougars are off to their best start since the 2001 team began that season 10-0. Russell Holmes averaged 2.5 kills and 2.5 blocks per game as he helped lead BYU to back-to-back 3-1 wins. Jonathan Charette had a big match on Friday, recording 14 kills, six blocks and five digs. As a team, the Cougars had 24.0 blocks, a school rally-scoring record. Ivan Perez got hot in the second match, tying his season high with 21 kills.

Holmes is hitting .500 for the season and is averaging 1.87 blocks per game. Perez leads the team in kills per game at 4.26 while Victor Batista is averaging 2.93 and hitting .473. Brian Rowley leads the team in digs at 2.27 per game.

Santa Barbara is led by Evan Patak, who paces the team with 5.56 kills per game and has terrorized opposing teams with his dangerous serve. He has recorded 17 aces in just 18 games. Aaron Richman is second in kills at 3.00 per game and Theo Brunner is hitting a team-high .359.

"Evan Patak is a very good player," Peterson said. "We need to slow him down and not let him control us with his serve. We need to contain him and not let anyone else have a big match."

The Gauchos hosted the UCSB Elephant Bar Tournament at the beginning of the season and went 1-2, with a win over UC Irvine and losses against UCLA and Cal State Northridge. Last weekend, Santa Barbara hosted Hawai`i and split with the Warriors.

BYU owns an 18-15 lead in the all-time series between the Cougars and Gauchos. BYU is 11-6 at home during the series, including a loss in the MPSF Tournament last season and the Cougars earning back-to-back sweeps in 2004.

No. 2 BYU COUGARS (4-0, 2-0 MPSF) vs. No. 8 UC SANTA BARBARA GAUCHOS (2-3, 1-1 MPSF)

Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20 and 21, 2006 - 7 p.m. MST

Smith Fieldhouse (5,000) - Provo, Utah

Coaches: BYU, Tom Peterson (76-21 in fourth year, 328-151 overall)

UC Santa Barbara, Ken Preston (475-336 in 27th year, same overall)

Series: BYU leads, 18-15, including last season's split in Santa Barbara, Calif. and the Gauchos win in Provo in the MPSF Tournament

TV: Friday: BYUTV and CougarTV, live

Saturday: CougarTV, live - Visit www.byucougars.com for information

LAST MATCHES - BYU vs. CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE

BYU improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the MPSF with two wins over Cal State Northridge, Jan. 13 and 14. BYU dropped game one in the first match but the Cougars picked up the next two despite hitting below .200 in each. BYUs defense held Northridge to percentages of .088 and .000 in those games. The Cougars hit .483 in the fourth to clinch the win. Russell Holmes led BYU with a career-high 12 blocks while adding 11 kills. Jonathan Charette had 14 kills, six blocks and five digs in the win. BYU set a school rally-scoring record with 24.0 team blocks. On Saturday, the Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to an improved offensive performance. Game three was close throughout and eventually tied at 26. Northridge then went on a 4-0 tear to win the game and cut BYU's lead to 2-1. The Cougars took care of business in the fourth, winning 30-25 to claim the match. Ivan Perez led BYU with 21 kills while Victor Batista had 18 kills. Holmes had another strong match, recording nine kills and eight blocks and hitting .692.

CSTV/AVCA DIVISION I-II MEN'S COACHES TOP 15 POLL - POLL #2: JAN. 17, 2006

BYU moved up to No. 2 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 10. BYU was second with four first-place votes. UC Irvine made the biggest jump, moving up five spots from No. 9 to No. 4. Penn State had the biggest fall, going from No. 6 to No. 11.

BLOCKING MACHINES

The Cougars blocking was key in the victory Friday against Cal State Northridge. BYU set a school rally-scoring record by recording 24.0 blocks. Russell Holmes had a career-best 12 blocks, the second most by a BYU player in a rally-scoring match. Victor Batista tied his career high with nine blocks while Ivan Perez and Jonathan Charette also set career marks with seven and six blocks, respectively. The Cougars blocked well on Saturday as well, recording 15.5 blocks. The combined 39.5 blocks is the most by a BYU team in a two-match stretch during the rally scoring era. As a team, the Cougars are averaging 3.90 blocks per game.

BREAKOUT MATCH

Friday against Cal State Northridge, junior Jonathan Charette, a transfer from Long Beach City College, had the best match of his young career. With outsides Perez and Evans struggling, Charette came up big, pounding out 14 kills in four games while hitting .367. The junior also had six blocks and five digs, both career highs.

BEST SHOW IN TOWN

Despite starting the season before students were back for school, the Cougars are averaging 3,417 fans per match. The Cougars played two matches against Cal Baptist Jan. 6 and 7 and drew over 2,300 both nights while the first day of school was Jan. 9. The attendance saw a big jump against Northridge as 4,386 came on Friday and 4,337 came on Saturday. The average attendance in 2005 was 3,251.

BIG MAN IN THE MIDDLE

When All-American Michael Burke completed his eligiblity after last season, the Cougars had a major void to fill in the middle. Russell Holmes, who started 13 matches as a sophomore in 2005, is doing his best to compensate for the loss. Holmes had 20 blocks against Cal State Northridge and is averaging 1.87 for the season. He is also hitting .500 and averaging 2.27 kills per game.

A LOOK AT UC SANTA BARBARA

No. 8 UC Santa Barbara enters this weekend with a 2-3 overall record and 1-1 in the MPSF. The Gauchos hosted the UCSB Elephant Bar Tournament at the start of the season and finished 1-2. Santa Barbara started with a 3-2 win over UC Irvine before being swept by UCLA and Cal State Northridge. The Gauchos then welcomed Hawai`i to town for two matches. Santa Barbara swept the Warriors the first night and Hawai`i won in four the next night.

Evan Patak leads the Gauchos in kills and aces per game at 5.56 and 0.94. Theo Brunner leads the team in hitting percentage at .359 and blocks per game at 0.67. Freshman Max Klineman directs the offense and averages 13.18 assists.

LAST YEAR VS. UC SANTA BARBARA

BYU and UC Santa Barbara faced off three times in 2005, twice in Santa Barbara and once in Provo. The teams split in Santa Barbara and the Gauchos knocked the Cougars out of the MPSF Tournament by defeating BYU in five games in Provo.

The first match in Santa Barbara went four games and the Gauchos prevailed. Evan Patak had 32 kills in the win while Ivan Perez and Victor Batista led BYU with 17 kills apiece. The Cougars earned a sweep the next night with Batista recording a career-high 23 kills while hitting .656. Taylor Evans added 13 kills. In Provo, Santa Barbara jumped out to a 2-0 lead but the Cougars fought back to tie the match at 2-2. The fifth game was tied 13-13 but the Gauchos took the next two points to claim the match. Perez had a career-high 24 kills to lead BYU in the loss.

SERIES NOTES

The Cougars and Gauchos will meet for the 34th and 35th times when they play Jan. 20 and 21, 2006. Santa Barbara won the first four matches before BYU claimed its first win March 5, 1992 in three games. The Cougars won 10-straight matches from April 9, 1998 to Feb. 14, 2003. Last season the teams split in Santa Barbara and the Gauchos defeated BYU in Provo in the first round of the MPSF tournament.

Overall Series Record: 18-15

BYU Record in Provo: 11-6

BYU Record in Santa Barbara, Calif.: 7-9

BYU Record at Neurtral Sites: 0-0

BYU Record under Tom Peterson: 4-3

Longest BYU win streak: 10

Longest Northridge win streak: 4

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