Junior middle Mike Burke registered 13 kills in the semifinal match against Pepperdine. The top ranked Cougars will play No. 2 Long Beach State on Saturday in the MPSF Championship matchat 7:30 p.m. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The MPSF Championship will feature the top teams in the conference as No. 1 BYU faces No. 2 Long Beach State on Saturday, May 1 in the Smith Fieldhouse. The match is set for 7:30 p.m. (MST). The top-ranked Cougars advanced to the MPSF championship for the fourth time in the school's history, after defeating fourth-ranked Pepperdine on Thursday in the Smith Fieldhouse.
Long Beach State cruised past the Bruins in three games in the other semifinal match on Thursday, with help of four 49er players in double-digits -- Jeff Wootton, Scott Touzinsky, Duncan Budinger and David Lee. This will mark the third time the two teams have met in the MPSF playoffs and the first time the teams have met in the championship match.
The match on Saturday will also be the 23rd meeting overall between the two teams, with Long Beach State holding a 12-10 record over BYU. The Beach holds a 5-4 record in Provo. Long Beach State played BYU earlier this season at the Pyramid, where the Cougars finished the weekend with two close five-game wins. In the first match, the team came back from a 0-2 deficit to upset No. 2 LBSU. BYU was ranked No. 7 on the national poll at the time of the matches.
With five players recording double-digit kills, the Cougars outlasted the 49er lead with a power-charged comeback led by senior Fernando Pessoa at 20 kills and newcomer Victor Batista at 18 kills. Both performances by Pessoa and Batista marked career-highs in kills at the time and a high in hitting percentage, .588, for Batista.
In the second match, BYU handed the 49ers their second loss of the season in a match lasting almost three hours. The two teams battled through until the end, bringing 1,089 fans at the Pyramid to their feet. Winning the first two games, the Cougars had the advantage going into the third game after finishing the second at 39-37.
But LBSU didn't give up too easily, coming back from a 2-0 deficit and taking the match to five games. BYU led the entire fifth game in a grueling 15-13 final, as senior Fernando Pessoa and newcomer Victor Batista hit the last points for the win.
BYU remains the top seed in the MPSF tournament and continues to rank No.1 in the AVCA Coaches' Poll for the eighth-straight week. BYU has advanced to the postseason in the last eight-consecutive years for a total of ten appearances in the MPSF tournament since the program began in 1990.
The Cougars came away with a 3-2 victory on Thursday in the tournament semifinals against fourth-ranked Pepperdine. Both teams looked strong throughout the match, exchanging leads in each of the games. Even with a match-leading .375 percentage, Pepperdine came up short in the final game as BYU finished with a 15-12 score. The game scores were 30-27, 27-30, 30-27, 24-30, 15-12. The Cougars led the match with 83 total kills to the Waves' 78.
Saturday's match will be broadcast on College Sports Television (CSTV), available on DirecTV (channel 610).