COUGARS/LIONS IN THE FINAL FOUR
BYU will take on Penn State in a rematch of the national semifinals during the 1999 Final Four in Los Angeles. This will be the first time the two teams have met since the Cougars' 3-1 win on May 6, 1999 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. BYU is making its second-ever appearance to the NCAA Championships, including its second appearance in the past three season. The Cougars have posted a 2-0 all-time record at the Final Four, while the Lions are making their 16th appearance in the NCAA tournament, including their third-straight showing at the Final Four. Penn State has posted a 10-14 (.417) record at the NCAA tournament, including a 2-0 run during the 1994 tournament to win the National Championship. PSU is 0-4 in its last four trips to the Final Four. Under the current format, BYU is the only team in men's collegiate volleyball history to return to the Final Four with a perfect NCAA tournament record.
Thursday's match will be broadcast (tape-delayed) on Friday, May 4, beginning at 11 a.m. (MDT) on ESPN2. Chris Marlow will call the action, while Heather Cox will lend expert analysis to the broadcast. (Currently there are no live broadcast plans for Thursday's match.) Saturday's championship match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, beginning at 5 p.m. (MDT).
The Cougars will depart the Salt Lake International Airport on Delta flight #957 at 3 p.m. (MDT) on Tuesday, May 1, arriving at Orange County's John Wayne Airport at 3:55 p.m. (PDT). While in Long Beach, Calif., BYU will stay at the Courtyard Marriott in Downtown Long Beach. Following the NCAA Tournament, the Cougars are scheduled to return to Salt Lake City on Sunday, May 6 aboard Delta flight #1240. The team will leave John Wayne at 10:10 a.m. (PDT) and return to SLC at 12:54 p.m. (MDT).
THE BYU-PENN STATE RIVALRY
Thursday's national semifinal between the Cougars and Nittany Lions will mark the fifth meeting between the two teams. Penn State owns a 4-1 advantage in the series, dating back to the 1990 season. The Lions won the first four matches before the Cougars claimed their first win in the series. Ironically that first win came in 1999 during the national semifinals at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. After PSU won the first game, BYU rallied to win three straight games and advance to the championship game (vs. Long Beach State) and claim their first-ever National Championship. The two teams have never played a three-game match, however four of the five contests have gone four games. BYU is 1-1 against Penn State on a neutral court.
20 AND COUNTING
The Cougars record of 21-4 marks the second time in the past three seasons BYU has registered 20 or more wins in a single season, including the Cougars' school-record 30-1 campaign during their NCAA Championship run in 1999. BYU has posted four 20-win seasons since 1994 -- the Cougars first-ever 20-win campaign.
WINNING THE BATTLE OF THE BEST
During the regular season, the Cougars recorded a 4-0 record in matches featuring the No. 1 vs. the No. 2-ranked teams. Earlier this season, second-ranked BYU faced No. 1 UCLA in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars came away victorious, posting a 3-1 win over the Bruins. On March 3, BYU, then ranked No. 1, traveled to No. 2 Pepperdine, recording a 3-2 win over the Waves. On April 13-14, the second-ranked Cougars played host to No. 1 Hawai'i, defeating the Warriors on back-to-back nights. After dropping a 1-3 decision to No. 2 Hawai'i in the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament, top-ranked BYU has posted a 4-1 record in No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups.
COUGARS TAKE ON NATION'S TOP-RANKED
The Cougars played host to the top-four teams in the country during the semi-final and final rounds of the MPSF Tournament on April 26-28. In the April 24th USA Today/AVCA Coaches' Top-15 Poll, the Cougars were ranked No. 1, while their semi-final round opponent was No. 2 Hawai'i. Long Beach State, the third-ranked team in the nation dropped a five-game set to No. 4 UCLA. BYU has posted a 4-2 mark against last week's top-four teams, including two-out-of-three wins over Hawai'i, a 3-1 victory over UCLA and a split with Long Beach State.
BYU IN THE POLLS
The April 24th USA Today/AVCA Coaches' Top-15 poll marked the seventh week the Cougars were ranked as the No. 1 team in the country, including the third week BYU had earned all 16 first-place votes. The Cougars had spent more weeks at No. 1 than UCLA, Long Beach State and Hawai'i combined.
THREE AND DONE
Including back-to-back 3-0 wins over No. 5 Stanford on April 2-3 and a 3-0 win over No. 1 Hawai'i on April 13, the Cougars have notched 14 three-game victories on the season. Eight of those 14 wins were against nationally-ranked opponents, including four wins against opponents ranked in the top-10. The Cougars have posted the most 3-0 wins in the MPSF, followed by Hawai'i with 10 and UCLA with nine. BYU is the only team in the MPSF which has not lost a 3-0 game this season. All 11 other teams have been shutout at least once, including UCLA, Hawai'i and Long Beach State. The 2001 season marks the most 3-0 wins since the Cougars recorded 20 three-game victories en route to the NCAA National Championship in 1999. This season also marks only the second time in school history BYU has avoided a 3-0 defeat. From Jan. 31-Feb. 17, the Cougars laced together a streak of five straight 3-0 wins, equaling the school record for consecutive three-game victories.
McGOWN NAMED MPSF COACH OF THE YEAR
Head coach Carl McGown was named the 2001 MPSF Coach of the Year after leading the Cougars to their second MPSF regular-season title in the past three years. With the Cougars' 3-1 win over UC Irvine in the first round of the MPSF Tournament, McGown recorded his 180th career victory. Born in Alamosa, Colo., and raised in Long Beach, Calif., McGown is in his 12th season at the helm of the BYU volleyball program. The two-time MPSF and 1999 AVCA National Coach of the Year has posted a career mark of 180-124 (.592) over the past 11 seasons, including a school-record 30-1 season in 1999. Since the 1997 campaign, McGown has averaged 21.0 wins per year, recording a mark of 105-26 (.802). McGown has led BYU to its first National Championship in 1999 and a second NCAA tournament appearance in the past three seasons .
THE DEEP BIG BLUE
The key to the Cougars' run this season can be defined in one word -- depth. In several matches this season BYU has used up to 10 players, including true freshman Fernando Pessoa who has played in a team-leading 85 of the Cougars' 90 games at libero. In fact, 10 different players have played in 42 or more games this season. Two of the three BYU middle blockers average over 2.20 blocks per game, while the trio average 1.5 blocks each per game. Of the attack specialists, five different players have combined to total 65 percent of the Cougars' total kills, including All-America candidates Mike Wall with 344 and Joaquin Acosta with 230. The five have combined to hit an impressive .374 on the season, led by Wall who has hit an amazing .366 on a team-leading 661 attempts. Setter Hector Lebron has played in 84 of BYU's games, while backup Jeremiah Larsen has come of the bench in 11 contests to average over eight assists per game.
Since 1993 UCLA has posted a 143-26 league record to lead the MPSF. BYU ranks second with a mark of 120 wins and only 50 losses in league competition. Hawai'i ranks a close third with a 117-53 league mark over the past nine seasons.
ACOSTA NAMED NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Joaquin Acosta, a 6-5 junior outside hitter, was named the AVCA/Sports Imports Division I/II National Player of the Week, following the Cougars' back-to-back wins over No. 1 Hawai'i on April 13-14. The San Juan, Puerto Rico native averaged 3.63 kills and 1.38 blocks in leading BYU on both the offensive and defensive ends. He contributed a team-high eight kills, along with five blocks and two digs, against the Warriors in a 3-0 win on April 13. His defense at the net helped limit Hawai'i to a .086 team attack percentage during the match. Acosta produced a season-high 21 kills to pace the Cougars to a 3-2 victory over the Warriors on April 14. He added six blocks
and a .333 hitting percentage during the second match. Acosta hit at a .309 average for the week against the Warriors over the course of eight games.
True freshman Jonathan Alleman set a BYU single-game record with five aces against UC San Diego on Feb. 9, leading the Cougars to a 30-16 win in game one. Alleman's match-high 14 kills paced BYU to a 3-0 win over the Tritons. Scott Bunker leads the Cougars with 21 aces, followed by Joaquin Acosta with 19. Alleman ranks third with 14, while Matt Olsen has posted 13 on the season. The foursome has posted 67 of the Cougars' 99 aces on the season, averaging .78 aces per game. All totaled five players have reached double figures in kills this season, including Luka Slabe, who has recorded 11 aces.
LAST TIME OUT
The Cougars ran into a revenge-minded Hawai'i club on Thursday, April 26 in the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament. After being sent back to Hawai'i two weeks ago following back-to-back loses in the Smith Fieldhouse, the Warrior returned to Provo with a score to settle. With the limited services of All-America candidate Mike Wall, who saw only limited playing time in two games due to a sprained ankle, the Cougars struggled to find momentum as the upset-minded Warriors gave BYU a taste of its own medicine, knocking the Cougars from the MPSF tournament with a 3-1 victory. Hawai'i recorded 19.0 blocks on the night, compared to BYU's 16. Brenton Davis led the Warriors with 10 blocks, while Torry Tukuafu added nine. Offensively, the match was fairly even, with Hawai'i racking up 64 kills to the Cougars 63. Hawai'i hit .240 at the net, while BYU registered a .208 average. Four Warriors posted double figures, including the MPSF Player of the Year, Costas Theocharidis, who tallied a team-leading 18 kills. Joaquin Acosta led all players with a match-high 20 kills on the night, recording a .371 average on 35 swings.
HOME SWEET HOME
With a 14-2 record in the Smith Fieldhouse, the Cougars have posted an impressive 54-5 (.915) record in Provo since the 1998 season and a 67-7 (.905) overall mark at home since the 1997 campaign. As one of the most popular sporting events on campus, over 175,000 fans have packed the Smith Fieldhouse and Marriott Center to watch the Cougars. BYU has averaged nearly 3,400 fans per match since the 1997 season, including a record 4,748 fans per match in 1999. On Feb. 19, 1999, BYU defeated Hawai'i, 3-1, in front of 14, 156 fans in the Marriott Center to set the NCAA single-match attendance record. The Cougars recorded a Smith Fieldhouse record on Feb. 23 when 6,119 fans were on hand for the four-game victory over No. 1 UCLA. Five of the Cougars' top-six games in the Smith Fieldhouse have been against the Bruins, with the previous all-time SFH record set at 5,864 against UCLA on March. 28, 1997.
BYU IN THE MPSF TOURNAMENT
The Cougars made their seventh appearance in the MPSF Tournament last week, marking the fifth straight year BYU has earned a trip to the postseason. The Cougars have recorded an 8-7 all-time mark in the league's post-season tournament, including a record of 4-2 in the last six tournament matches. BYU has posted a 5-3 record in first-round games, including a 3-1 victory over UC Irvine in the opening round of the 2001 MPSF Tournament. BYU has posted a record of 2-3 in semi-final action and a 1-1 record in the championship round.
BYU IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
2001 will mark the second trip to the NCAA National Championship Tournament for the Cougars in the past three seasons. During the 1999 Final Four, the Cougars fought off Penn State in the national semifinals to meet Long Beach State in the championship match. The 49ers, who had handed BYU its only loss during the season, proved to be little challenge as the experienced and confident Cougars rolled to a 15-9, 15-7, 15-10 victory to claim its first-ever National Championship. BYU became only the second team outside California to win the NCAA title. The Cougars are 2-0 in NCAA tournament play.
COUGS CLAIM MPSF REGULAR-SEASON TITLE
With back-to-back wins over top-ranked Hawai'i on April 13-14, the Cougars claimed their second regular-season MPSF Championship title in the past three season. The Cougars posted a league-best 14-3 mark on the year, recording a perfect 5-0 mark against Mountain Division opponents and a 9-3 record against Pacific Division teams. BYU's league record marks the best regular-season clip since going 18-1 during the 1999 season. BYU posted a 10-match win streak to start the season and has recorded a current five-match win streak, since dropping a four-game thriller against Long Beach State on March 24.
With the pending announcement of the 2001 AVCA All-Americans, it is anticipated the Cougars will have as many as three or four All-Americans, including 1999 All-American Hector Lebron, 2000 All-American Scott Bunker, Mike Wall and Matt Olsen. Should the Cougars earn All-American citations in 2001, it will mark the 11th straight season BYU has had at least one All-American. Since 1991, the Cougars have had a total 10 players earn as many as 21 All-America honors, including four-time All-Americans Ethan Watts and Ryan Millar. Watts was twice named to the AVCA All-American First-Team, while Olympian Ryan Millar earned three first-team honors.
BYU VOLLEYBALL QUICK FACTS
Â• BYU has compiled the best winning percentage in the nation during the 2001 season (.846).
Â• The Cougars spent a nation-leading seven weeks as the No. 1 team in the nation.
Â• BYU spent more weeks at No. 1 than UCLA, LBSU an d Hawai'i combined.
Â• The Cougars were selected unanimously three different times as the No. 1 team.
Â• The Cougars lead the nation in hitting, averaging .369 at the net.
Â• The Cougars were 4-0 during the regular season in matches featuring No. 1 vs. No. 2.
Â• BYU claimed its second MPSF regular-season championship in 2001, posting a 14-3 mark.
Â• The Cougars have compiled 14 three-game victories this season.
Â• BYU recorded a season-high five straight three-game victories from Jan. 31 - Feb. 17.
Â• BYU is the only MPSF team to not lose a three-game match this season.
Â• BYU has posted an MPSF-leading 15-4 (.789) record against nationally-ranked opponents.
Â• BYU recorded a 7-2 (.778) record on the road against nationally-ranked opponents.
Â• The Cougars are 11-3 against opponents ranked in the top-10.
Â• BYU tallied a season-high 10-match win streak from Jan 19 - Feb. 24.
Â• The Cougars have not lost back-to-back matches all season.
Â• BYU has won six of its last eight matches, including five of the past six contests.
Â• BYU has defeated every team it has lost to this season.
Â• The Cougars have not lost to any single opponent more than one time this season.
Â• BYU won 64 single games this season, dropping only 22 to record a .744 percentage.
Â• Four BYU players earned AVCA All-America honors, including three first-team selections.
Â• BYU has five MPSF All-Conference selections -- two more than any other team.
Â• The Cougars average nearly four blocks p/game.
Â• BYU has held its opponents to a .212 hitting percentage, forcing nearly 8 errors per game.
Â• Held opponents to 20 points or less 17 times during the 2001 season.
Â• BYU head coach Carl McGown was named the 2001 MPSF Coach of the Year by is peers.
Â• Four current starters on the BYU roster were members of the 1999 NCAA Championship team.
TOP-FIVE WINS OF THE SEASON:
Â• The Cougars upset No. 1 UCLA, 3-1, on Feb. 23
Â• BYU defended its No. 1 ranking, holding off second-ranked Pepperdine, 3-2, on March 3.
Â• BYU defeated sixth-ranked Long Beach State, 3-1, on March 23.
Â• The Cougars claimed back-to-back 3-0 wins over fifth-ranked Stanford on April 2-3.
Â• BYU swept top-ranked Hawai'i, 3-0, 3-2, on April 13-14.
Â• BYU has five MPSF All-Conference performers -- two more than any other team.
Â• Senior Matt Olsen leads the nation in hitting, producing a .538 average at the net.
Â• Senior Scott Bunker ranks 11th nationally in hitting, posting a .428 average.
Â• Junior Mike Wall ranks 12th in the nation in kills, averaging 4.53 kills per game.
Â• Wall also has one of the highest hitting percentages of a player with as many attempts.
Â• Bunker ranks second in the nation in blocks, averaging 1.79 per game.
Â• Hector Lebron ranks third nationally, averaging 13.55 assists.
Â• Lebron ranks second on BYU's all-time assist list.
Â• Joaquin Acosta was named the AVCA National Player of the Week (April 16)