Junior Jeff Robinson and the No. 3 Cougars will take on No. 11 UC Irvine on Thursday and Friday nights (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The No. 3 BYU men’s volleyball team (6-3, 4-2 MPSF) stays on the road this week as it plays at No. 11 UC Irvine (5-6, 1-5 MPSF) for a two-match series. The Cougars already defeated the reigning national champions in their season-opening match on Jan. 7. That day BYU handed the Anteaters a 3-1 loss at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational.
The Anteaters are coming off back-to-back five-set losses at then-No. 9 Hawaii. UCI out-hit (.356-.237), out-blocked (15.5-12.0) and out-dug (55-50) Hawaii in Saturday’s loss.
The Cougars are 17-6 against the Anteaters since 2001, but only 6-6 against them since the 2006 season. BYU defeated UCI in three matchups in 2008, including two in Irvine, Calif. and one at the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals. Last season UCI claimed an early-season match in Santa Barbara, while the two teams split matches later in Provo.
BYU and UCI met earlier this season in the opening round of the UC Santa Barbara Invitational. Senior outside hitter Andrew Stewart led the Cougars with 19 kills and a .375 hitting percentage. Kevin Sagers and Robb Stowell contributed 17 kills apiece. Both Stewart and Sagers recorded double-doubles with 15 and 10 digs, respectively.
Live stats are available at the UC Irvine men’s volleyball schedule page at www.ucirvinesports.com. Gametracker can be launched by clicking on the link next to the appropriate game on the schedule.
The Cougars are coming off a weekend split at No. 6 UCLA. Kevin Sagers had 14 kills to pace BYU on Friday, with Robb Stowell and Andrew Stewart adding 12 and 11, respectively. Each of the three Cougar attackers hit over .300—led by Stowell’s .370 success rate—but the nearly flawless performance on the other side of the net proved too much for BYU on this particular night. Stewart matched his career high with 22 kills in a five-set win on Saturday. Other Cougars with double-digit kills were Sagers and Kent Tuttle with 14 and 11, respectively. Sophomore middle blocker Russell Lavaja contributed a match-high 11 blocks, marking a new career high.