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