BYU volleyball: Cougars head to California

By Rachel Hawks

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 14 2014 4:35 p.m. MST

After taking down the top team in the nation Saturday, No. 8 BYU men’s volleyball hits the road for matches against UC Irvine on Friday and UC San Diego on Saturday in California.

Friday’s 7 p.m. PST match at UC Irvine (3-2, 0-1 MPSF) will be BYU’s first time meeting the Anteaters since the 2013 NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship title match, when the Cougars (2-2, 2-0 MPSF) lost, 3-0.

BYU then travels to La Jolla, Calif., with hopes to maintain its unbeaten record against the Tritons (0-3, 0-2 MPSF), while UC San Diego looks for its first win of the season. The first serve for that match will be at 7 p.m. PST.

The Cougars come off back-to-back wins, one against then-No. 1 Long Beach State in the Smith Fieldhouse. Senior outside hitter Taylor Sander led BYU with 38 kills and 14 digs on the weekend, picking up his fourth career MPSF Player of the Week honor for his performance. Setter Tyler Heap had a career night against the 49ers, collecting new personal bests in assists (47), digs (11), blocks (4) and kills (3).

Sander averages 4.57 kills per set on .318 hitting to lead the Cougars in kills and 1.50 digs per set. Heap averages 10.57 assists per set and 1.50 digs per set.

UC Irvine returns senior outside hitter and 2013 NCAA tournament MVP Connor Hughes. Hughes leads the team in digs with 1.88 per set. Junior opposite hitter Zack La Cavera leads the Anteaters with 4.40 kills per set.

The Anteaters face USC on the road Tuesday before hosting BYU.

UC San Diego is led offensively by Nick Iorfino and Johl Awerkamp, who each average 2.22 kills per set. Mike Brunsting averages 1.83 digs per set to lead the Tritons.

UC San Diego plays against Cal Baptist on Thursday before hosting BYU.

Links to live stats for the UC Irvine match and links to live video streaming and live stats for the UC San Diego match are available on the BYU men’s volleyball schedule page.

Rachel Hawks is the men's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.

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