No. 3 Cougars Travel to USC
PROVO -- After splitting a pair of matches with second-ranked Hawaii at home last week, the BYU men's volleyball team will take to the road for the third time this season, traveling to Los Angeles to play the University of Southern California in two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contests. The fourth-ranked Cougars (9-3, 9-3 MPSF) and the Trojans (3-12, 1-9 MPSF) will square off in the Lyon Center in back-to-back matches on Feb. 28 and Mar. 1. Both matches will be held at 7 p.m. (PST).
A Quick Look at the Cougars
The Cougars have earned an 9-3 record on the season in both overall and MPSF competition. As a team, BYU leads the MPSF in digs, aces and assists per game and is second in hitting percentage and blocking. Sophomore middle blocker Michael Burke leads the conference for individual hitting percentage, averaging .495 per game, and adds a team-leading 1.15 blocks per game. With its 9-3 conference record, BYU is second in the MPSF, second only to Pepperdine (10-0 MPSF).
Quotes from Head Coach Tom Peterson
Any team we play in our league is good. USC is a tall team. They have some players on their roster who are 6-10, 6-9, and a few at 6-8. They are a really tall team, and we can't overlook that.
USC has a new coach, and he is pretty good. USC is a nationally recognized school, so that's what you face when you go there to play. Anytime you can beat USC it is an accomplishment.
Series with the Trojans
This will be BYU's 20th meeting with the Trojans. Since their first matchup in 1990, the Cougars have gained a 12-7 lead over the Trojans in the series, and are 4-3 in Los Angeles. Last year, the Cougars blanked the Trojans in two 3-0 matches in Provo.
The Trojans hold a 3-12 overall and a 1-9 MPSF record coming into the matches with BYU. The Trojans are suffering a six-match losing streak, having just lost a non-conference match at NAIA leader Cal Baptist. The Trojans have averaged a .240 attack percentage as a team on the season, led by senior middle blocker Josh Day, who averages 2.56 kills per game and a .403 hitting percentage. Senior Miles McGann guides the offense at setter, having recorded over 550 assists on the season and averaging 12.18 per game. On defense, the 6-10 middle blocker Chris McKniff leads with an average 1.15 blocks per game. USC's head coach Turhan Douglas is in his first year at the helm, after three years as an assistant with the Trojans.
The Cougars will host three non-conference matches next week. BYU will host Concordia on Wed., March 5 at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse. On Friday and Saturday, March 7 and 8, the Cougars will play 11th ranked Penn State. Penn State is currently in second place in the EIVA Tait conference witha 4-0 conference adn 8-3 overall record on the season. Friday's match with Penn State will be held at 7 p.m. in the Fieldhouse, and Saturday's match will be held at 9 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse. Tickets for all three matches will be available at the gate an hour and a half prior to game time for $6 or through the Marriott Center Ticket Office (801-378-BYU1).
BYU USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top-15 Poll
After a 3-0 win over No. 2 Hawaii last week, BYU moved up a spot in the polls to No. 3. BYU has steadily climbed its way up in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top-15 polls since January 14. After starting the season ranked fifth in the preseason poll, the BYU Cougars spent a few weeks in the fourth position and are now ranked third. Last year the Cougars finished the season ranked third in the nation.
Paal Named National Player of the Week Feb. 24
BYU outside hitter Rafael Paal BYU senior Rafael Paal was named the AVCA/Sports Imports Division I/II Men's National Player of the Week Monday for his outstanding performance against Hawaii last weekend, becoming the second BYU player to receive such honors this season. Paal, a 6-6 outside hitter from Rio di Janeiro, Brazil, led the Cougars to a 1-1 record against second-ranked Hawaii on Feb. 20 and 21. He registered 20 kills in a sweep of the Warriors Feb. 20, tying the school record for kills in a three-game match, and added five digs, three blocks and two aces while hitting .607 (20-3-28) for the match. He then garnered a team-high 17 kills, seven digs, four assists and a block in a 3-1 loss to Hawaii Friday night. Paal totaled 37 kills on the week for an average of 5.28, nearly two kills above his current season average of 3.31.
Alleman Named National Player of the Week Jan. 20
BYU opposite side hitter Jonathan Alleman (Yorba Linda, Calif.) was name the AVCA Division I/II Men's Volleyball Player of the Week on January 20 after leading the Cougars to two 3-2 wins over Mountain Pacific Sports Federation foe Stanford. The Cougars swept the two matches by 3-2 scores. For the two matches, Alleman recorded 60 kills (6.0 pg), hit .489 and added 7 blocks and 12 digs.
Cougar fans now have the opportunity to purchase season tickets for men's volleyball through the Courtside Cougar program. For $100, Courtside Cougar ticketholders receive comfortable courtside seating at every home match of the season, free drinks and popcorn, a free men's volleyball media guide and a poster signed by the team. Contact the Marriott Center Ticket Office (801-378-BYU1) to purchase season tickets .
BYU has eight letterwinners returning from last year's 23-7 team, including 2002 All-MPSF honorees Chris Gorny (middle blocker) and libero Fernando Pessoa, outside hitter Luka Slabe, opposite Jaime Mayol, outside hitter Rafael Paal and setter Carlos Moreno.