Cougars up for California road test


    By Brent Hinckley

    After a successful eight-match home stand, the men”s volleyball team will be put to the test as it hits the road for the next six matches.

    “We just want to go down there and see if we are good,” coach Carl McGown said. “It”s a nice opportunity to be tested, to see what we”re really like down there where there isn”t any home cooking.”

    The Cougars have won their last seven matches, after dropping the season opener to Stanford. Since that loss, the Cougars defeated Stanford, the following night, then defeated Pacific, USC, and Ohio State.

    “We”re like the basketball team – we are good at home,” McGown said.

    The team takes on Long Beach State on Feb. 6 and on Friday, Feb. 8. Long Beach State was the team BYU defeated to win its first national championship in 1999.

    Senior opposite hitter, Mike Wall said the team”s goal is to go into No. 1 UCLA, 11-1. The rematch of last year”s national championship takes place on Feb. 21 and Feb. 23.

    The Cougars are coming off wins where several players stepped up big for the team. On Feb. 2, four players had double digit kills.

    Senior outside hitter Joaquin Acosta led the team with 19 kills. Wall was second with 17 kills, and junior outside hitter Jaime Mayol, and junior middle blocker Rafael Paal had 10 and 11 kills, respectively. Sophomore Chris Gorny led all players with eight blocks and contributed five kills.

    With most of the players stepping up, Wall said the team should be fine on this road trip.

    “We should beat these teams. It”s just a matter of doing it,” Wall said.

    McGown said he hopes to continue their success against the 49ers, and take away some of Long Beach State”s advantage, as Long Beach lost three All-American starters from last year.

    Last year the 49ers and Cougars split matches in Provo, each team winning three games to one.

    On Thursday, Jan. 21, the 49ers played at UCLA and took the Bruins to five games, eventually coming up just short of upsetting the Bruins.

    The 49ers are 1-3 in conference play and are ranked 13 in both the AVCA/Coaches poll and the Volleyball magazine poll.

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