No. 2 Cougars Meet No. 1 UCLA, No. 12 UC Irvine in Weekend Slate
PROVO -- The No. 2-ranked and first-place BYU men's volleyball team (8-0, 4-0) will take on top-ranked and defending National Champion UCLA (10-3, 5-1) on Friday, Feb. 23 in the Smith Fieldhouse, followed by a Saturday-night match against 12th-ranked UC Irvine (3-8, 1-5). Both matches are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. (MST).
The second-place Bruins enter Friday's contest riding a six match win streak, including a 3-1 victory over UC Irvine on Wednesday. The Anteaters have lost three straight.
"This will be a very important weekend for us," BYU head coach Carl McGown said. "At this point we have yet to face a team like UCLA, so this will give us a good idea of where we are. We're a little banged up and haven't had the benefit of practicing with a full team this week, so I suspect we'll need to play at a pretty high level in order to beat UCLA."
With Wednesday's win over UC Irvine, the Bruins maintained their hold on second place in the MPSF's Mountain Division, trailing BYU by just one match. The Anteaters are in fifth place in the six-team division.
"This will be our toughest match of the season," said UCLA head coach Al Scates. "They have Hector Lebron back from their championship season and they are a great offensive team. They are a tough team to beat at home."
The Bruins welcome back outside hitter Mark Williams, who had been sidelined since Jan. 17 with a sprained ankle. Williams has started the last three matches for UCLA, posting seven kills against CS Northridge and 12 vs. UC Santa Barbara. Sophomore outside hitter Ian Burnham recorded a career high 23 kills and added nine digs and two aces last week against UC Santa Barbara.
The Cougars enter this weekend's competition as the only undefeated team in the country, having won seven of eight matches by a 3-0 count. BYU leads the nation in hitting percentage, posting a .435 average on 704 swings. Middle blocker Scott Bunker leads the nation in hitting percentage, hitting .593 on the season. Matt Olsen ranks fifth (.545), Mike Wall is tied for eighth (.459), Jaime Mayol ranks 12th (.442) and Joaquin Acosta is tied for 20th, hitting .402 on the season. All-American setter Hector Lebron leads the nation in assists, averaging 14.04 assists per game.