PROVO, Utah -- The 1999 NCAA National Champion BYU men's volleyball team got back to its winning ways on Saturday, downing Loyola-Chicago, 3-1, in front of 5,735 fans at the Smith Fieldhouse. The win marked the Cougars' 13th straight and extended BYU's Smith Fieldhouse win streak to 30 matches, dating back to the 1998 season.
"It's really hard to know how we played tonight," BYU head coach Carl McGown said. "We hit over .400 and we didn't get aced. We dunked some balls and played really well for awhile."
BYU hit a combined .413 at the net, led by sophomore Mike Wall's 23 kills and a double-double performance from Scott Bunker. The 6-5 middle blocker racked up 15 kills and a match-high 10 blocks. Junior Matt Olsen added 16 kills for the Cougars, while setter Chris Pitzak tallied 103 assists. The eight-ranked Cougars tallied 27 blocks and held the Ramblers to just over 27-percent hitting on the night.
The Cougars got off to a quick start in game one, jumping out t to a 12-3 lead behind the hitting of Wall and senior Casey Jennings. The duo combined for 11 of the Cougars' 23 kills. Wall picked up one of his game-high six kills on a bullet down the left side to stop a two-point Loyola-Chicago rally at 13-5. Wall would also come up with the ace a few plays later to give BYU the 14-6 advantage. The game ended on a Rambler hitting error, giving the Cougars a 15-6 win.
In game two, junior Matt Olsen paced BYU to a 15-9 victory with a team-high seven kills. Jennings added a game-high three blocks as the Cougars held Loyola-Chicago to a .200 average at the net. The Ramblers' Justin Schnor chalked up a game-high 10 kills.
In game three, Loyola-Chicago took its first lead of the match at 6-5 after an Olsen hitting error. The two teams would battle through ties at 11-11 and 14-14 before Loyola-Chicago wrapped things up with a 16-14 win. Schnor paced the Ramblers with a game-high 11 kills, while teammate Ted Groves added seven more.
"When we got to game three, we lost focus," McGown said. "Something happened out there and we had some hitting errors."
Hitting .523 at the net, the Cougars ended the match with a 15-8 victory in game four. BYU was led by Wall who had 10 kills and Joaquin Acosta who added six of his team-high 25 kills on the night.
The Cougars will be back in action, hosting highly-touted Lewis University in the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 14 and against on Saturday, Jan. 15.
PROVO, Utah -- The defending NCAA National Champion BYU men's volleyball team will kick off the 2000 campaign on Saturday, Jan. 8 against Loyola University Chicago. The match will be played in the 5,000-seat Smith Fieldhouse and will begin at 7 p.m. (MST). Tickets will be available at the door.
The match will mark the first contest of the season for both teams. The Cougars finished the 1999 campaign with a 30-1 record and claimed their first-ever national title. The Ramblers finished last season with a mark of 19-9, including wins over noteables such as Lewis and Ball State.
"A couple years back, Loyola came within one point of going to the Final Four," BYU head coach Carl McGown said. "They are a quality opponent and I believe will present a challenge for us in our season-opener.
"It is likely we will have six news guys on the court. I'm concerned about the way we're playing right now. And if we're not practicing well, I'm not sure how well we will be able to play during a match. We have a lot of room for improvement."
The Cougars will be without the services of big-man Mac Wilson, who will miss the first month of the season with a broken index finger. According to McGown, junior Scott Bunker has shown great strides and will take over for Wilson at middle blocker.
"Scott is a quick and powerful hitter," McGown said. "He is very capable of taking Mac's place in the lineup. But until he has played that position, it is hard to say how he will do. We'll just have to wait and see."
The two teams met on Nov. 18 when the Cougars traveled to the Windy City for a five-game pre-season exhibition match. After dropping the first four games, Loyola rallied to to take game five. Prior to that meeting, BYU handed the Ramblers a four-game (6-15, 15-9, 6-15, 8-15) road loss in 1997.
Before Saturday's match, BYU will honor the 1999 championship team by raising its National Championship banner in the Smith Fieldhouse.