No 1 BYU Edges Out No. 6 UC Irvine

2/15/2008

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Irvine, Calif. - Still undefeated, the No. 1 BYU men's volleyball team (10-0, 5-0) defeated No. 6 UC Irvine (8-7, 5-5), the defending NCAA National Champions, in five sets Friday (30-28, 32-34, 30-22, 28-30, 28-26) in the first of two weekend matches on the same court that will host the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

For the first time in 2008 the Cougars had five attackers with double-digit kills. Senior outside hitter Ivan Perez led the way with a season-high 26 and 12 digs for his third double-double of the season. Senior opposite Jonathan Charette had 17 kills, senior middle blockers Russell Holmes and Trent Sorensen followed with 15 and 10 apiece, and sophomore outside hitter Andrew Stewart recorded his first double-double of the season with 10 kills and 12 digs. The Cougars also held the Anteaters to only a .188 attack percentage in the match.

"It was a defensive battle," BYU head coach Shawn Patchell said. "There was a lot of heart shown out there. Brian Congelleire did a nice job, and we were able to get the ball to the middle more. It was a team effort, and the team just gutted it out."

The first set was tightly contested. The Cougars built a three-point lead at 23-20, but that was the largest spread the team could manage in the set and won 30-28 on Perez' fifth kill of the match. BYU led Irvine in kills 18-15 while the Anteaters' eight service errors also hindered their campaign.

BYU was able to put UCI in the hole by four points at one point in the second set, but the resilient Anteaters pressured the Cougars and closed the gap. BYU held game point at 30-29, but UCI came back and won the second set 34-32.

Patchell's crew wasted no time getting an edge in the third set, and the Cougars sprinted to an 8-2 advantage. Despite its best efforts, UCI was not able to regain the lead in the set and BYU ran away with the third set on a .364 hitting percentage, 30-22. The Cougars held the Anteaters to a .098 hitting percentage in the third set.

UCI dug in its heels to reign BYU in and force a fifth. Even with eight attack errors, the Anteaters were able to fend off the Cougar offense and find enough seems in the Cougar defense to win the fourth set 30-28.

The largest lead of the fifth set was BYU's at 6-3, but UCI regained the lead at 11-10. The Cougars then scored the next four points to earn three match points at 14-11. The lead swung like a pendulum for the next several points until BYU sealed the deal at 28-26 to remain unbeaten in the 2008 campaign.

The Cougars now lead the series against the Anteaters 30-9 and 14-5 in Irvine. The Cougars are also 13-3 against the Anteaters since 2001. The two teams will meet again Saturday at 7 p.m. PT in Irvine, Calif.

Article courtesy of BYU athletics.

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