PROVO — This season's top-ranked men's volleyball team takes on last year's NCAA champion as undefeated BYU travels to UC Irvine for a pair of weekend Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches.

The Cougars (9-0 overall, 4-0 MPSF) meet the Anteaters (8-6, 5-4 MPSF) tonight and Saturday night in Irvine, the site of the 2008 NCAA Final Four.

UCI has been a big BYU nemesis the past two years, taking four of five meetings. The Anteaters won both '06 regular-season matches in Irvine, split last year's two matches in Provo and then ended the Cougars' '07 season with a neutral-court win in MPSF Tournament semifinals.

Irvine is coming off a pair of home victories last week — against Pepperdine and Southern California. The up-and-down Anteaters have already swept perennial powerhouse Pepperdine in their two regular-season meetings but have also fallen in league matches to Stanford, Long Beach State, UCLA and UC San Diego.

BYU, who along with third-ranked Long Beach State, still boasts undefeated overall and Mountain Pacific records, was off last week after taking two the previous week from CS Northridge, then ranked No. 6 but currently No. 4.

BYU and UCI have faced just two common opponents to date — Irvine beat four-time NAIA champion Cal Baptist in the season opener and lost in league action at home to UC San Diego, while BYU opened its season with a pair of league victories at UC San Diego and beat Cal Baptist twice at home the following week.

In other key MPSF action this week, fifth-ranked UCLA makes the always-tough, two-match trek to Hawaii, while third-ranked Long Beach State visits No. 7 Pepperdine and No. 9 USC.

Facing a difficult stretch in its MSPF schedule, Pepperdine has dropped five of its last six league matches — two losses each to UC Irvine and UCLA and once at Long Beach.


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