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BYU volleyball: No. 3 BYU hosts No. 1 UC Irvine and No. 13 UC San Diego

By Whitney Weekes

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15 2013 7:52 p.m. MST

PROVO, Utah — Continuing its stay at home, No. 3 BYU men’s volleyball hosts No. 1 UC Irvine in a conference showdown Friday before taking on No. 13 UC San Diego on Saturday.

Both matches kick off at 7 p.m. MST at the Smith Fieldhouse. Friday’s match will be broadcast on BYUtv.

The Cougars (3-1, 2-0 MPSF) suffered their first loss of the season to then-No. 13 Lewis, splitting a two-match series with the Flyers. After dropping the first match 3-2, BYU bounced back to a quick 3-0 victory the next night.

In Friday’s loss to Lewis, All-American junior Taylor Sander dished out four aces to propel him to a first place tie in BYU career service aces with 91. Sander needs one more to hold the record outright. Sander also moved past 1,000 career points. The outside hitter has recorded double-figures in kills in all four matches this season.

Freshman Ben Patch led the Cougars in Saturday’s win, hitting a .800 clip, the fifth-best mark for a single match in BYU history. The Provo native had 12 kills on 15 attempts and no errors. As a team, BYU recorded the fifth-best hitting percentage in a match (.525).

The team is ranked No. 2 in hitting percentage (.348) and No. 3 in opponent hitting percentage (.198) in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Lavaja is fourth in blocks (24), while Sander is ranked fifth in both points and kills (58).

UC Irvine

BYU leads the series with UC Irvine (4-1, 1-1 MPSF) 39-12 and holds a 20-4 home record. BYU took the 2012 meeting, 3-2. The Cougars' last loss came in 2009 at home.

The Anteaters split a pair of 3-0 outcomes in conference home matches last weekend, defeating Pepperdine and falling to USC. UC Irvine hit a collective .405 against the Waves. Sophomore Zack La Cavera recorded 16 kills at .577, and junior Scott Kevorken was 7-for-8 with a .750 clip.

Junior Collin Mehring is ranked fifth in the MPSF in hitting percentage (.500), while Kevorken is in the eighth spot (.450). Mehring also holds the fifth best mark in blocks with 1.5 per set. Senior Chris Austin has 9.94 assists per set for the eighth ranking. La Cavera is seventh in kills (3.69) and tenth in service aces (0.44).

Sophomore Michael Brinkley holds the No. 1 spot for UCI in digs posting 3.18 per set. As a team, the Anteaters are No. 3 in the MPSF in blocks (3.24) and No. 4 in kills (12.88) and service aces (1.35)

UCI takes on Cal Baptist before traveling to Provo.

UC San Diego

The Cougars have never lost to the Tritons (2-3, 1-1 MPSF), holding a 32-0 series record. BYU won in the 2012 meeting, 3-2.

UC San Diego split a pair of 3-0 sweeps at home, upsetting USC before falling to Pepperdine. The win marked the first for the Tritons over the Trojans since the 2009 season, a span of seven matches. Carl Eberts recorded a match-high 16 kills with a .414 clip, along with nine digs and five blocks.

Senior Chase Frishman holds the lone Triton individual ranking among the MPSF leaders with 2.33 digs for a seventh place spot. UC San Diego does not hold any top-5 MPSF team rankings.

The Tritons host Cal Baptist on Thursday before traveling to BYU.

Student-athletes will be present at the match Saturday with bins to collect T-shirts for the annual West Coast Conference T-shirt drive. The T-shirts will be donated to underprivileged people around the world through the non-profit group Clothes4Souls.

Whitney Weekes works in BYU Athletic Communications as the men's volleyball SID and football media relations assistant. She can be reached at mvolleyball_sid@byu.edu.

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