Win Streak Tested as Bruins Come to Provo

(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

Riding a four-match win streak, the No. 5 BYU men’s volleyball team (13-8, 9-5 MPSF) remains home at the Smith Fieldhouse to host No. 10 UCLA (9-12, 5-9 MPSF) for matches Friday and Saturday nights.

The Cougars are coming off two five-set wins last weekend, upsets over No. 5 Long Beach State. Sports Imports/AVCA Division I-II Men’s National Player of the Week Futi Tavana led BYU on Saturday with 14 kills and 13 blocks. The team’s current four-match win streak ties a season-long previously set in February.

The Bruins come to Provo after defeating No. 12 UC Santa Barbara, 3-1, on the road two weeks ago. With the win UCLA snapped a four-match road losing streak. The Bruins dominated the team statistics, hitting .342 to the Gauchos’ .161. The visitors out-blocked the hosts, 12.5-10.0.

Series Information

Although the Bruins lead the all-time series against the Cougars, BYU is 11-5 against UCLA since the beginning of the 2001 National Championship season. The Cougars have won three of the past four matchups, all of those ending in sweeps. Twenty-four of the 42 total meetings between BYU and UCLA have resulted in sweeps, while 10 have gone to four sets and only eight have reached the five-set mark. The two teams split two matches played in Los Angeles last season.

Match Coverage

Live stats can be accessed by visiting BYU’s men’s volleyball schedule page at www.byucougars.com. The live stats can be launched by clicking on the “Live Stats” link for the appropriate game on the schedule page.

Coming Off...A Five-Set Upset

The No. 8 BYU men’s volleyball team notched another tough five-set win (30-18, 29-31, 30-24, 33-35, 15-13) over No. 5 Long Beach State on Saturday, improving to 13-8 on the season and 9-5 in MPSF play. Junior opposite Kent Tuttle led BYU, knocking down a career-high 23 kills against the 49ers. Outside hitters Andrew Stewart and Alex Da Pron contributed 17 kills apiece, while redshirt freshman Futi Tavana recorded his second double-double in as many nights with 14 kills and 13 blocks. His 13 blocks set a new career high and tied a BYU program high. Junior setter Yamil Perez also set a new career high with 73 assists.

Down 7-2 early in the fifth set, BYU rallied to close the gap. Two blocks and two kills by Tavana tied the score at 10-10. Several attack errors proved fatal for the 49ers down the stretch as the Cougars edged closer and closer to a win. Da Pron finished the night with one final kill to force match point.

Up Next

UC Irvine comes to Provo as the Cougars host their final two regular-season home matches on April 2 & 3. Both matches will start at 7 p.m. MT at the Smith Fieldhouse.

Last Year Against UCLA

March 13, 2008

For only the second time in program history, the No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball team (17-1, 12-1) swept No. 9 UCLA (13-10, 8-7) in three sets at Pauley Pavilion (30-25, 30-27, 30-27), led by senior All-American middle blocker Russell Holmes’ .846 attack percentage.

The Cougars have now won the last nine sets against the Bruins dating back to back-to-back sweeps in the 2007 season in Provo. Holmes recorded a team-best 11 kills and three blocks, followed by Ivan Perez and Andrew Stewart with 10 kills apiece. Since BYU’s only loss on the season, the team is now 5-0 with four three-set sweeps.

“We really played well,” BYU head coach Shawn Patchell said. “I was proud of them, especially because it’s such a daunting place to play. Holmes had a phenomenal match with 11 kills on 13 swings. Joel Silva also had a good night passing. Our serving was most impressive, though. We had three aces on only three service errors and we served aggressively. I don’t think we’ve ever done that.”

UCLA was able to record 12.5 total team blocks to BYU’s 8.0 and hold the Cougars to an attack percentage below .300 for only the sixth time this season. However, BYU’s .293 hitting percentage did trump UCLA’s .239. The Cougars also racked up 39 digs to UCLA’s 24 and 49 kills to UCLA’s 46.

March 14, 2008

In only the team’s second loss this season, the No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball team (17-2, 12-2) was upset by No. 9 UCLA (14-10, 9-7) at Pauley Pavilion in four sets (28-30, 30-23, 23-30, 21-30).

BYU senior opposite Jonathan Charette led all attackers with 19 kills, but only senior middle blocker Russell Holmes joined him in double-digit kills as the Cougars were held to their lowest attack percentage on the season at .211. In contrast, the Bruins became the only team to hit above .300 against BYU this year at .324.

“We struggled offensively, and they played great defense,” BYU head coach Shawn Patchell said. “Their libero had 21 digs, and as a result they had more swings than we had. Our most positive note tonight was Jonathan Charette. He had a great weekend.”

Holmes added a match-best six blocks to his 10 kills. UCLA still recorded 10.5 total team blocks to BYU’s eight, though. Four Bruins were also able to hit in double figures on the night.

Futi Tavana: National & MPSF Player of the Week

PROVO -- Futi Tavana, a 6-8 redshirt freshman middle blocker from Kalaheo, Hawaii, has been named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I-II Men’s National Player of the Week and MPSF Molten Player of the Week after leading BYU to back-to-back five-game wins over then-No. 5 Long Beach State.

“Futi is very deserving of this award,” said BYU head coach Shawn Patchell. “He continues to make improvements week to week.”

In the first match-up with the 49ers, Tavana hit .500 with 11 kills in 20 attempts and one error. He also completed his first career double-double, getting 11 blocks, in addition to adding one ace in the match. Tavana started the night strong, recording three kills and a block early in the first set to contribute four of BYU’s first five points against the 49ers. Forced into a comeback situation, with Long Beach State leading 2-1, he recorded a service ace to give the Cougars an 8-5 lead early in the fourth set, while another kill later tied the score 21-21. Tavana opened the final set with a kill, the first of his final three. With a five-point lead down the stretch, the redshirt freshman recorded a solo block as BYU went on to win the match.

In the second match against Long Beach, Tavana turned in an even better outing, notching the second double-double of his young career with 14 kills and 13 blocks. His 13 total blocks marked a new career high and tied a BYU record high (shared with Scott Bunker’s 13 blocks vs. No. 1 Hawaii on April 14, 2001). Three of Tavana’s 13 blocks came against reigning AVCA National Player of the Week Dean Bittner who only suffered nine attack errors on way to a career-high 42 kills. He also hit .636 in the match and picked up one dig. After a close loss in the fourth set, BYU found itself trailing 9-5 in the fifth. Tavana single-handedly brought his team back to within one point (12-11) with three kills and two blocks.

For the week, Tavana hit .571 and averaged 2.50 kills, 2.40 blocks and 3.85 points per game.

This is the first time Tavana had garnered either honor. He is the 18th athlete from BYU to earn the national award, with Yosleyder Cala being the last Cougar to receive the award in April 2007. Russell Holmes received the MPSF weekly honor in February 2008.

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