Middle blocker Michael Burke joins the No. 1-ranked BYU men's volleyball team against UC San Diego on Apr. 2-3. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- After battling two non-conference teams last week, the No. 1-ranked BYU men's volleyball team returns to league play at UC San Diego on Apr. 2-3 in the RIMAC Arena. The matches start at 7 p.m. (PST)
The Cougars tied the school record at 18-straight wins, previously set by the 1999 team, after defeating George Mason and Lewis last week. The squad hopes to break the record with 19 wins this weekend against the Tritons. UCSD dropped out of the AVCA Coaches' Poll, after ranking 14th last week but falling in both matches to Stanford and Pacific. Both losses came in three games.
"These matches against UCSD are big for us on the road," BYU head coach Tom Peterson said. "They have won more matches this year than they ever have. Coach Ron Larsen is a BYU grad and has done a great job there, even without scholarships for the athletes. They could cause some problems if we're not ready."
BYU continues to sit atop the conference for the fifth straight week, with the best league record at 15-1. The Cougars, who remain in first place of the AVCA Coaches' Poll for the fourth straight week, are riding an 18-match win streak including 10 straight home wins.
The match on Friday will be the 15th meeting between the two teams, with BYU holding a perfect 14-0 overall record over UC San Diego, including six wins in Calif. The Cougars swept the Titons at home last year, 3-0 the first match and 3-1 in the second match.
"We'll have to play good to win and not make little mistakes," Peterson said. "We try not to think about winning streaks or rankings. What we're concerned about is how well we perform each night. Everything else will just take care of itself."
After clinching a MPSF Tournament berth, BYU looks to finish out the season strong in time for Apr. 24 in hopes to host the first round of the tournament.
With career and season-high hitting last Saturday, BYU dismantled the Patriots of George Mason, 3-0, capturing its 18 straight victory. The game scores for Saturday's match were 30-26, 30-15, 30-23. Coming off an emotional win over Lewis on Friday, the team settled down and focused on its game, using seven players off the bench. All American Jon Alleman posted 18 kills and a career-high .857 hitting percentage, also adding four blocks and four digs on defense.
On Friday, the Cougars put together a 3-1 victory over Lewis, who edged BYU in the 2003 National Championship, to notch their national-leading 17th victory. After dropping the first game, 28-30, the Cougars put together three wins (30-25, 30-28, 30-20) to dash the Flyers' hopes of another upset.
The match brought in a season-high 4,342 fans in the Smith Fieldhouse. All American- candidate Fernando Pessoa led the Cougar attack with a match-leading 21 kills. BYU hit a .347 percentage for the match. Alleman pitched in 12 kills, three digs and two blocks to help the Cougars to another win.
The last road trip of the regular season will take the Cougars to UCLA on Apr. 8-9. The Bruins are currently ranked third in the national polls and will try to stop BYU's momentum in the legendary Pauley Pavilion. Both matches start at 7 p.m. (PST)