#1 BYU Throws V-ball Party at UCSD (Part I)

On Thursday, February 16, the number one ranked BYU Men's Volleyball team played the unranked Tritons of University of California-San Diego in La Jolla, Calif. The Cougars breezed through the fast-paced match in just over an hour.

In game one, it took a few minutes to get into high gear. At first, the two teams were keeping pace with each other mostly due to service errors (BYU) or attack errors (UCSD). UCSD led only once at two to three. After the score was tied at four, BYU started to show why they deserved their national ranking.

BYU was pulled away by scoring at a rate of more than a two points to one. Six of UCSD's points in this game were service errors committed by BYU. UCSD had numerous attack errors, but few service errors.

During this first game, there some fabulous digs by both Yosleyder Cala and Ivan Perez of BYU. These guys went down to the floor to save the score. It took a while to realize that Rob Nielson, BYU's starting setter was not playing. Brian Congelliere, was the setter throughout most of the match. He put out a very good effort as the substitute. The setting styles were noticeably different. BYU took game one 30 to 16.

In game two, BYU jumped out to a three to one score. UCSD came back within one point when the score was six to five. Then BYU score six unanswered points and had several other scoring runs that UCSD could not interrupt. Again, service errors were a problem for BYU, and attack errors plagued UCSD. BYU was serving the ball hard with the velocity of their serves increasing throughout the match.

BYU went to the bench early to give the reserves valuable game experience. There were at least three great volleys in this game. Both teams were making phenomenal saves, digs and hits. Near the end of game two, UCSD got their scoring on track. But the score was already 19-13. The two teams traded points until the game ended at 30-23, and BYU went up two games to none.

In game three, UCSD stayed tight with BYU early. Through the first two-thirds of this final game, UCSD was able to stay within three to five points of BYU until the score was 20-14. Then BYU started scoring in three to five-point bunches. The final score for the game was 30-19 and the sweep was complete in just one hour and twelve minutes.

Three of UCSD's points in game three resulted from BYU's Chip Neff playing into the net. He is a freshman who got swing time tonight as a Setter. He seemed to play nervous at times but did fairly well. During a time out by UCSD, Coach Peterson personally walked onto the court to give him some tutoring. Both Congelliere and Neff will be good setters for BYU.

Rodrigo Gomes got much more play time as well tonight. He was the only BYU server without a service error; everyone else had at least one, and several had three. There were a total of 21 service errors tonight for an average of seven per game. BYU will have to improve this statistic when they travel time to both Long Beach State and the University of Hawaii. In those two venues, this high percentage of service errors could be disastrous. By contrast, UCSD only had 12 service gaffes.

For BYU, Taylor Evans had the most kills (13), followed by Cala (8) and Russell Holmes (8). Perez only had four kills as did Jonathan Charette. The reason for the drop-off in kills was the wild attack errors of UCSD. It is hard to rack up the kills when your opponent is scoring all your points for you.

BYU is alone atop the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) stnadings. BYU is 9-2 in the MPSF, and 11-2 overall. All other teams now have three or more losses. MPSF standings can be found at: www.mpsports.org/m-volleyball/standings.htm.

Much speculation has been raised about Cala's effect on the team's chemistry. His interaction with fellow team members on the sidelines showed no apparent friction. Cala, Perez, Victor Batista, and Trent Sorensen were huddled up at the end of the sidelines, whooping it up and cheering on their substitute teammates. They had their own private party due to the scoring. It would have been impossible to say who had the biggest smile. During one UCSD timeout, the starters made a tunnel of arms for the subs to pass through as they returned to the bench. If there are any team chemistry problems as a result of play time, they were not visible. The speculation in the chat rooms of this problem should be put to rest – case closed!

The one major disappointment of the match tonight was BYU fan attendance. There were about 65 to 70 BYU fans out of the reported attendance of 92. That seemed to be a paltry number in light of the large BYU alumni presence in southern California. There were not many BYU fans outside of the friends and family of Brian Rowley, Congelliere, Holmes and Sorensen.

"SoCal" BYU fans now have something to do on Saturday night. Show up at 7:00 p.m. at UCSD and blow the roof off the place. The price is a measly $7 a ticket at the door. That is cheaper than the price of a movie ticket. Sit on the side opposite of arena entry doors; it is much more fun!

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