PROVO — Yosleyder Cala, the defected Cuban national volleyball who earned 2007 All-American honors while becoming a BYU crowd favorite, has signed a professional contact, ending his collegiate career.

After averaging four-plus kills a game two seasons with the Cougars, the leaning and powerful 6-foot-8 outside hitter is currently under contract with Caribes de San Sebastian of the Puerto Rican Volleyball Federation.

His legal status still restricts him from traveling outside the United States, and signing with international teams.

BYU coach Shawn Patchell said he was aware after April that Cala was struggling academically and would struggle to be eligible for the 2008 season.

"He loved it here," said Patchell of Cala, who returned to BYU earlier this month while visiting for the LDS Church's General Conference weekend.

Patchell noted that in addition to the language and cultural differences, Cala also struggled in the university's academic setting, having been educated in his youth while focusing his primary efforts in the Cuban volleyball system — the national team from 2001-04 and Cuba's junior national team four years previous.

"It was hard for him," said Patchell of Cala, who lived and worked for a year in Provo while studying for and passing English efficiency classes to attend BYU.

Cala made his BYU debut with the Cougars in their 2006 upset of then-No. 1 Pepperdine. With the visiting Waves having won the first game and the second tied 28-all, the freshman entered and put down the final two BYU points, finishing the match with 10 kills and two aces.

He averaging 4.01 kills per game in 2006 and was named to the all-Mountain Pacific third team.

Last year, he averaged 4.07 kills per game and was second on the team with 334 totals kills and 21 service aces. In a match against Southern California, he logged a BYU-best .905 hitting percentage with 19 kills and no errors in 21 attempts. He was all-MPSF first team and an AVCA first-team All-American.

Despite his absence, the Cougars return a talented and deep squad, including two-time all-Americans Ivan Perez at outside hitter and Russell Holmes at middle blocker and returning national newcomer of the year in setter Yamil Perez.

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