NCAA Semifinal Win Sends BYU to Championship

Setter Carlos Moreno helped engineer a first-round victory over Penn State with a match-high 62 assists in the Cougars' 3-1 victory. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

LONG BEACH -- The BYU Cougars advance to the NCAA Championship for the third time in five years after posting a 36-34, 30-25, 28-30, 30-26 victory over Penn State Thursday at the Pyramid, maintaining a perfect 5-0 in NCAA Final Four competition. In the championship round on Saturday, BYU will play No. 4 Lewis, who upset No. 2 Pepperdine 3-2 in the first semifinal match of the tournament Thursday.

The Cougars, now 23-6 on the season, got an edge by obliterating their previous single-match ace record as five players combined for a total of 16 service aces on the night, with Chris Gorny, Jonathan Alleman and Rafael Paal contributing four each. The previous record of 10 aces was set at Pepperdine on April 11, 2003.

"I think we just dropped the ball short on them--they weren't expecting it," Alleman said. "I think the win is a great tribute to how hard we worked during the year and the great job our coaches do in preparing us for these matches."

BYU out-hit the Nittany Lions 72 to 65 on the attack, with four Cougars in double-digit kills. Alleman led the Cougars with 17 kills on 30 attempts while hitting .367 and added four aces, three blocks and ten digs for his third-straight double-double in post-season play.

Michael Burke hit .538 with 16 kills and added five blocks, while Carlos Moreno guided the team with 62 assists and three aces. Rafael Paal and Jaime Mayol each added double-digit kills with 11 and 15, respectively.

"I think our heart won the match, our team really worked together and our heart won it tonight," BYU head coach Tom Peterson said. "I thought these guys played hard to win the match. Mark Pavlik is a great friend, and it was emotional for me to play his team in the Final Four."

Game one started with a service error from each team, followed by back-to-back kills by Mayol to give the Cougars the lead. BYU held its lead until a 5-1 run by Penn State tied the score at 16. From there on it was a battle for every point as the teams went head to head all the way through several game points and into overtime with over 30 points each.

With the Cougars down 33-34, Mayol threw down a kill to tie it, then Gorny served an ace for the lead and Mayol and Burke teamed up for a block to win the game 36-34. Mayol and Paal both recorded six kills in the first game and hit over .600 to help BYU to a .590 attack percent in game one.

Carlos Guerra started Penn State off in game two again with a service error to give BYU the lead off the bat. But again the Cougars pulled away on some Alleman kills and aces from Moreno and Paal to gain a three-point lead at 8-5. After recording just 2.0 blocks in the first game, the Cougar defense got stronger in the second game as they out-blocked the Nittany Lions 5.0 to 1.0.

The BYU attack continued strong at a .414 percent, while Penn State was held to just .286 in game two. Alleman knocked down six kills on nine attempts with no errors to lead the Cougars to a 29-25 lead over the Nittany Lions, then finished off the game with a back-row, flying-through-the-air kill off a set from Paal for the Cougar win, 30-25.

Gorny started game three off with his third ace of the night, a new personal high for him. BYU racked up a four-point lead at 16-12, but ran into trouble with errors and let Penn State come back to within one at 17-16. Paal knocked down a kill to give the Cougars a little cushion, but the Nittany Lions came back again to tie it at 21.

A Penn State block and two Cougar attack errors put the Nittany Lions in the lead, where they stayed through the final point, made by Carlos Guerra for the Penn State win, 28-30. BYU hit just .182 in the third game while Penn State hit .303 as a team and out-blocked BYU 4.5 to 3.5.

Guerra kept his momentum going as he started game four with an ace, his second of the night. It looked as if Penn State might keep going with the lead as they held on up to a tie at 13. BYU then went on a 6-2 run with two Slabe kills and a huge solo block from Moreno to take a 19-15 lead. The Cougars garnered seven aces in the fourth game and won 30-26 with a final hit from Paal.

"We put ourselves into some real deep holes with not being willing or able to adjust to their off-speed jump serves," Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik said. "Besides that, I don't think anyone really counted us out till that last point."

For the Nittany Lions, Carlos Guerra led the attack with 19 kills on 41 attempts and added two aces, four digs and two blocks. Three other Nittany Lions recorded kills in double figures, including Zach Slenker with 14 and Keith Kowal with 11 kills on the night.

Top-seed BYU will face third-seed Lewis in the championship match on Saturday, May 3 at 4:30 p.m. (PST) at the Pyramid. The match will be televised live on ESPN2.

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Volleyball Box Score

Penn State vs Brigham Young (May 01, 2003 at Long Beach State)

Penn State | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

## Name GP| K E TA PCT| A| SA SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

2 O'Dell, Dan......... 3| 1 0 1 1.000| 28| 0 0| 0| 1| 0 2 1| 0

8 Slenker, Zach....... 4| 14 8 32 .188| 0| 0 4| 0| 1| 0 4 0| 0

9 Guerra, Carlos...... 4| 19 6 41 .317| 0| 2 6| 5| 4| 0 2 0| 0

12 Koljesar, Zeliko.... 4| 6 1 10 .500| 2| 2 1| 5| 2| 0 2 0| 0

13 Keil, Norman........ 4| 10 2 19 .421| 1| 0 1| 0| 3| 1 6 2| 0

14 Kowal, Keith........ 4| 11 3 20 .400| 0| 0 1| 0| 1| 1 2 1| 0

1 Mattei, Ricky....... 4| 0 0 0 .000| 3| 0 0| 1| 16| 0 0 0| 0

3 Schneider, Richard.. 3| 3 1 6 .333| 0| 0 0| 4| 2| 0 1 0| 0

6 Matthews, Nate...... 4| 1 0 1 1.000| 27| 1 2| 0| 1| 0 0 0| 0

11 Meerstein, Nate..... 1| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 0 0| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0

TEAM................ | | | | 1| | |

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Totals.............. 4| 65 21 130 .338| 61| 5 15| 16| 31| 2 19 4| 0

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 11.5

Game K E TA Pct

1 21 5 39 .410 GAME SCORES 1 2 3 4 TEAM RECORDS

2 14 6 28 .286 Penn State.......... 34 25 30 26 26-6

3 16 6 33 .303 Brigham Young....... 36 30 28 30 23-6

4 14 4 30 .333

Brigham Young | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

## Name GP| K E TA PCT| A| SA SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

3 Burke, Michael...... 4| 16 2 26 .538| 1| 0 2| 0| 3| 0 5 2| 0

5 Moreno, Carlos...... 4| 5 1 6 .667| 62| 3 4| 0| 3| 1 2 0| 1

6 Gorny, Chris........ 4| 4 3 11 .091| 0| 4 2| 0| 2| 1 5 1| 0

7 Mayol, Jaime........ 4| 11 5 23 .261| 0| 0 1| 3| 3| 0 2 0| 0

9 Paal, Rafael........ 4| 15 6 34 .265| 3| 4 3| 0| 6| 0 4 1| 0

12 Alleman, Jonathan... 4| 17 6 30 .367| 0| 4 3| 0| 10| 0 3 0| 0

1 Patterson, Casey.... 4| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 0 2| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0

4 Hillman, Joe........ 3| 0 0 1 .000| 0| 0 0| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0

17 Pessoa, Fernando.... 4| 0 0 0 .000| 2| 0 0| 2| 7| 0 0 0| 0

18 Slabe, Luka......... 3| 4 1 5 .600| 0| 1 2| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0

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Totals.............. 4| 72 24 136 .353| 68| 16 19| 5| 34| 2 21 4| 1

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 12.5

Game K E TA Pct

1 26 3 39 .590 Site: Long Beach State (The Pyramid)

2 16 4 29 .414 Date: May 01, 2003 Attend: 3622 Time: 2:12

3 14 8 33 .182 Referees: Alan Stankaitis, Mike Paull

4 16 9 35 .200 Triple blocks: Penn State 3, BYU 1

NCAA MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP SEMIFINAL #2