(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The No. 4 BYU men’s volleyball team (10-7, 8-6 MPSF) hits the road again as it participates in the Long Beach State Active Ankle Tournament on Friday and Saturday nights. The tournament consists of four teams, including the Cougars, No. 6 LBSU, No. 9 Penn State and St. Francis (PA).
BYU will take on the Nittany Lions (13-2, 6-0 EIVA) on Friday at 5 p.m. PT, while facing the Red Flash (8-7, 1-3 EIVA) Saturday also at 5 p.m. PT. All matches will be played at the Walter Pyramid.
Penn State is currently riding a nine-match win streak, with its most recent victory coming against George Mason on March 6. The Nittany Lions are led by senior opposite Will Price who averages 4.37 kills per set. Senior middle blocker Max Lipsitz leads his team with 87 blocks on the season.
St. Francis is coming off a five-set loss at Princeton on Feb. 27 and will take on LBSU at the tournament on Friday before facing BYU. Jordan Varee is averaging 4.79 kills per set for the Red Flash this season, while Pete Freyer has a team-high 64 blocks.
BYU and Penn State have played 13 previous matches, with the Cougars gaining the 7-6 advantage in the series after recording a 3-1 upset win at the Active Ankle Tournament in 2009. BYU has won seven of the last nine matches after dropping the first four the two teams played. Eight of the 13 matchups between the Cougars and the Nittany Lions have been on neutral floors, with BYU holding a 6-2 advantage at those sites.
Saturday will mark the first meeting between BYU and St. Francis.
BYU is coming off a weekend split, hosting No. 1 Pepperdine. The Cougars handed the top-ranked Waves a 3-1 loss on Friday, will Robb Stowell leading the charge with 22 kills. Andrew Stewart earned his seventh double-double of the season with 15 kills and 12 digs. Russell Lavaja recorded a career-high .714 hitting percentage with 11 kills and only one error.
Saturday was Pepperdine’s turn to be victorious as it delivered a sweep over BYU. Despite strong play from Kent Tuttle and Stewart, the Cougars could never quite catch up to the Waves, falling in three sets.