No. 8 Cougars Travel to No. 12 Ohio State

PROVO -- The No. 8 BYU men's volleyball team 1-3 (1-1) hopes to pick up two non-conference wins as the Cougars travel to No. 12 Ohio State to take on the Buckeyes Friday and Saturday night.

"We're getting better as the season goes on," head coach Tom Peterson said. "We just need to concentrate on our game and play like we can. We're trying to settle down in a set lineup and use practice time to get what we want out of each rotation,"

BYU is coming off a 1-1 conference weekend against Cal State Northridge, where the Cougars swept the Matadors 3-0 on Friday and CSUN came back on Saturday to upend BYU in five games.

Even with the loss, senior Fernando Pessoa earned the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week after leading the Cougars 3-0 over the Matadors on Friday and recording his career-best 18 kills in Saturday's match.

Pessoa's first reaction to his first national award was embarrassment, but he said the award belongs to the team. Pessoa posted 11 kills and eight digs on Friday and registered his first double-double with 18 kills and 10 digs against CS Northridge on Saturday.

The match up with Ohio State will be the 13th meeting between the two teams, as the Cougars lead the series 8-4 overall, including 3-1 in the Buckeyes' gym. The last meeting in 2002 left the Cougars with two wins in Provo.

Ohio State, who finished the 2003 season 16-12 overall and 11-5 (T3rd) in the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, returns six starters and 11 letterwinners. OSU's top scorer is senior Mike Wauligman with 4.33 kills for game and senior Adam Pederson ranked second at 3.33.

"There's no doubt we will be a much better team by the end of the season," Peterson said. "Our team is headed in the right direction; we just have to pass to the right spot and get the best swings out of our hitters."

BYU will continue its road trip Jan. 30-31 to No. 2 Long Beach State, with a pair of Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches.

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