Coming off an appearance at the UC Santa Barbara Elephant Bar Collegiate Invitational, BYU will open its regular season with two home matches against Cal-Baptist and Lewis on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. It marks the third time in four seasons the Cougars will open their season against the Lancers at home. The Cougars are on a three-match win streak in home openers dating back to 2006.
The Cougars and Lancers will be playing for the 11th and 12th time with BYU holding a 6-4 advantage in the previous 10 match ups. The last time Cal-Baptist beat BYU was Feb. 13, 2007 when the Lancers swept the Cougars in Riverside, Calif.
Cal-Baptist is traditionally one of the best NAIA schools. The Lancers are six-time NAIA Champions, with their only two losses this season coming against No. 6 UC Irvine and No. 3 Pepperdine. The Lancers forced a five-set match against the Waves, the 2008 NCAA runners-up, on Jan. 9.
Lewis opens the 2009 season in Provo, playing Cal Baptist on Friday at 2 p.m. MT in the Smith Fieldhouse before facing BYU on Saturday. The Flyers finished the 2008 season with a 21-10 overall record, falling to No. 10 Ball State, 3-1, in the MIVA Tournament’s semifinal match.
Both matches will be televised live on BYU-TV with Jarom Jordan calling play-by-play, Steve Vail offering analysis and Robby Bullough as sideline reporter.
Every home match will have a free live stats feed option. The live stats feed can be accessed by visiting the 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.
The Cougars return two starters for 2009 in junior outside hitter Andrew Stewart and junior libero Joel Silva. With the loss of two All-Americans and five contributing seniors in 2008, this year’s team has six newcomers and no seniors. The Cougars also have two recently returned missionaries--Futi Tavana and Quentin Smith.
Coaches or Players?
BYU’s entire coaching staff is coaching at its alma mater. Head coach Shawn Patchell starred for the Cougars in his playing days (1990-93) while assistant coach Rob Neilson earned All-MPSF honors for BYU in 2006.
After finishing the 2006 season with an 18-9 record, BYU was held without 20 wins for the first time since the 2000 season. With 2008’s 25-5 finish, the Cougars have recorded 10 total 20-win seasons. The first BYU team to record 20 wins was the 1994 team. The 1994 team finished its season with a 21-6 record and advanced to the final of the MPSF Tournament, losing to Stanford in four games.
BYU in the MPSF Tournament
Since 1993, BYU has qualified for the MPSF postseason tournament in 13 of 14 seasons including 12 consecutive trips. The Cougars all-time record in the MPSF tournament is 19-12. BYU has won the MPSF tournament three times and holds an 11-5 record in the first round, 5-5 record in the semifinals and 3-2 record in tournament finals. The Cougars won consecutive MPSF tournament championships in 2003 and 2004.
BYU in the NCAA Tournament
The Cougars have made four NCAA tournament appearances in the program’s history. Impressively, BYU has brought home the hardware in three of its four NCAA tournament appearances. The Cougars boast a 7-1 overall record in NCAA tournament play and a perfect 4-0 record in national semifinal matches. The Cougars only loss in the NCAA tournament was in 2003 when they lost to Lewis in a five-game thriller. BYU has earned automatic bids to the Final Four by winning the MPSF tournament three times: 1999, 2003 and 2004.
This year the Smith Fieldhouse will serve as host to the 2009 NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championships on May 7-9, 2009.
With Russell Holmes (first team) and Ivan Perez (second team) being named AVCA All-Americans last year, it marked the 15th consecutive season the Cougars have had an All-American. Since 1993, 20 different players have earned 38 citations, 14 of which are first-team honors and 13 of which are second-team honors.
BYU finished its exhibition schedule having won nine of 12 matches. The Cougars played against USC and Hawaii at the Warrior Fall Tournament in Honolulu, going 5-3 and finishing with the best record in the tournament.
The Cougars then returned home to host the BYU Tournament, going undefeated against teams from Utah Valley University, UC Irvine and Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Redshirt freshman Futi Tavana was named tournament MVP and joined junior Kent Tuttle on the all-tournament team.
Home Court Advantage
BYU finished its 2008 season with a 14-1(.933) record at the Smith Fieldhouse, facing teams like No. 1 NAIA team Cal Baptist, No. 5 Pepperdine, No. 6 Cal State Northridge and No. 8 UC Irvine. The record was the fourth best mark in Cougar history behind the 1998 (11-0, 1.000), 2004 (16-1, .941) and 1999 (15-1, .938) seasons.
Where Are You From?
Players come from all over the world to play with BYU’s volleyball team. The Cougars have players from Brazil, Puerto Rico and Venezuela on their roster. Eight states are also represented on this year’s team: Arizona, California, Ohio, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin. California leads the way with 4 players hailing from the Golden State.
Summer in Beijing
Junior libero Joel Silva was one of several current BYU athletes who competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing this summer. Silva played with his national team of Venezuela in the Olympics. In a match against the United States, Silva was pitted against his former BYU coach Ryan Millar and former BYU outside hitter Rich Lambourne. The U.S. went on to win the gold medal, thanks in part to their head coach, and former BYU player and assistant coach, Hugh McCutcheon.
Next week the Cougars will invite No. 11 Hawaii to the Smith Fieldhouse on Jan. 22-23. Both matches will start at 7 p.m. and both will be televised by BYU-TV.