(Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)
No. 1 BYU (6-2, 5-1 MPSF)
No. 15 UCSB (4-7, 2-5 MPSF)
No. 6 UCLA (8-5, 4-3 MPSF)
Playing in its final weekend of its 10-match home stand, the No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball team welcomes No. 15 UCSB and No. 6 UCLA to the Smith Fieldhouse.
The Cougars take on the Gauchos on Thursday, Feb. 7, and the Bruins on Saturday, Feb. 9. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. MST.
BYU is ranked No. 1 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association for its third-straight week. The Cougars, who received eight first-place votes, share the top spot with UC Irvine (seven first-place votes). With only one conference loss, BYU is also ranked No. 1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
Last weekend, BYU dropped its second match of the season to then-No. 7 Long Beach State, 3-2. The Cougars bounced back the next night with a 3-1 win over then-No. 9 Cal State Northridge.
Junior All-American Taylor Sander leads the Cougars with 124 kills for a 4.00 average, good for sixth in the MPSF. The outside hitter has recorded double figures in kills in all eight matches. Sander is ranked No. 5 in points with 4.71 per set and No. 11 in hitting percentage with a .352 clip.
Also ranked in the MPSF is senior Russ Lavaja who is No. 3 in blocks with a 1.52 average and No. 5 in hitting percentage at .474. Junior Devin Young is also ranked in the top-15 in blocks, coming in at No. 11 with 1.13 per set. Rounding out BYU’s individual conference rankings is senior Ryan Boyce, averaging 10.31 assists for the No. 6 spot.
BYU, who is No. 1 in hitting percentage in the MPSF with a .335 clip, is also holding its opponents to the third lowest hitting mark (.223). Thanks to a collective team effort, the Cougars are ranked No. 2 in blocks with 3.24 per set. BYU is out-blocking its opponents 100.5 – 62.0.
The Cougars are fifth in both assists and kills with averages of 11.71 and 12.55, respectively.
The Gauchos take on No. 12 Cal Baptist at home Feb. 5 before their contest with the Cougars. UCSB’s previous contest was a 3-1 win over UC San Diego.
The Cougars split the 2012 series with then-No. 12 UCSB. BYU captured a 3-1 win before UCSB edged out the home team 3-2. BYU leads the overall series against UCSB 28-21 and is 16-6 at home.
UCSB has out-killed its opponents 525 – 509. Sophomore opposite Matt Marsh leads the team with 129 kills and is No. 9 in the MPSF. Averaging 4.08 points and 0.28 service aces, Marsh is No. 12 and No. 14, respectively, in the conference.
Chad Kingi holds the No. 2 spot in digs in the MPSF with an average of 2.75. Jonah Seif is ranked third with 10.83 assists per set while Dylan Davis is fourth in hitting percentage with a .488 clip. Davis is also fifth in blocks with 1.40 per set.
The Gauchos hold two top-5 MPSF team rankings. UCSB is No. 3 in digs with 9.42 per set and is No. 5 in opponent hitting percentage at .246.
The Bruins are coming off a 3-0 win over UC San Diego. UCLA heads to No. 12 Cal Baptist Feb. 7 before traveling to Provo.
BYU split the 2012 series with then-No. 3 UCLA. After taking a 3-2 win the first night, the Bruins rallied back for a 3-0 sweep. The Bruins own the overall series with a 29-23 advantage but the Cougars remain on top at home, 13-10.
Leading the Bruins is Gonzalo Quiroga with 24 total aces on the season, for a 0.55 average. The mark gives him the top spot in the MPSF individual rankings. Quiroga is also No. 9 in points per set with 4.36 and No. 11 in kills with a 3.55 average.
Evan Mottram is ranked fourth with 2.50 digs per set while Robert Page’s 3.56 kills per set is good for No. 10. With a .350 clip, Spencer Rowe is 13th in hitting percentage.
The Bruins hold one top-5 conference team ranking. UCLA is No. 1 in service aces with an average of 1.53.
Live stats for both matches will be available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page. You can also follow the team on Twitter @BYUvolleyball for live updates.