BYU Defeats UC Irvine 3-1 to Advance to MPSF Semifinals


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Provo, Utah - It took four sets for the No. 3 BYU men's volleyball team (24-4, 18-4) to beat No. 8 UC Irvine (16-15, 11-11) Saturday in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars now advance to the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation playoffs with the 3-1 win (30-20, 30-22, 28-30, 30-28).

UCI beat BYU in the semifinals of the 2007 MPSF playoffs on its way to a national title. BYU's semifinal opponent in this years race for a title will be Cal State Northridge who beat Stanford in three sets Saturday in a quarterfinal match.

Senior All-MPSF First Team selection Ivan Perez recorded a match-high 19 kills on .406 hitting with a match-high 12 digs. The feat marked the ninth double-double for Perez this season. Joining Perez with 10 or more kills were sophomore Andrew Stewart (12), senior Jonathan Charette (11), and senior All-MPSF First Team honoree Russell Holmes (10).

"We played great for two sets and 28 points," BYU head coach Shawn Patchell said. "You can't blink in this conference or you'll get beat. Now that we're in the playoffs there are seniors out there that are fighting to stay on the floor for another match. UCI's a great team, but we're happy to be moving on."

The Cougars dominated the first set both offensively and defensively in a 30-20 win. BYU hit .517 as a team with Charette tallying five kills on eight swings to lead all attackers. The Cougars also racked up 4.5 total team blocks in the set, including a set-winning block solo from Holmes, an All-MPSF First Team selection. The Anteaters hit only .111 as a team in the set with 1.0 total team blocks.

The second set opened with a much closer battle than the first set ended, but BYU finished strong to take the set 30-22. UCI was down only two at 16-14, but would not get any closer. The Cougars continued to smoke the ball on offense and remain solid at the net with a .556 attack percentage and 4.0 total team blocks in the set. Perez, another All-MPSF honoree, led all attackers with six kills on six swings in the set.

The Anteaters won the fourth set 30-28 thanks to a 5-0 run at the end of the set. UCI led 12-11, and did not lead again until they were up 29-28. BYU led 28-25, but lost the next five points to drop the set. The Cougars hit .357 to UCI's .250, had 2.0 blocks to UCI's none, and 16 digs to UCI's eight, but were still not able to close out the set.

The 30-28 fourth-set win was a far cry from BYU's two previous set wins. Neither team was able to pull away during the set though both teams held the lead at various points in the set. The Anteaters last held the lead at 26-25 and were within a point down 29-28, but Perez's 19th kill of the match sealed UCI's fate and propelled the Cougars into the semifinals of the MPSF playoffs.

"There are no clocks in volleyball, and you have to fight to win every point," Patchell said. "We didn't play great in the fourth set, but we found a way to win."

BYU's next opponent will be Cal State Northridge in Long Beach, Calif., on Thursday. The Cougars beat the Matadors twice during the regular season, but CSUN went on to win its next 14 matches after the back-to-back losses in Provo.

Article courtesy of BYU athletics.

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