Head coach Tom Peterson sat as a spectator and watched his team square off against each other in the men’s volleyball annual Blue and White match Friday night Nov. 8.
Assistant coaches Grayson DuBose and Shawn Patchell each headed a team of randomly selected players, who played a total of three games, with DuBose’s white team earning a 2-1 (28-30, 30-24, 37-35) win. The white team was led by Luka Slabe, who recorded 17 kills on the night and a .450 hitting percentage, and by Mike Burke with a .440 hitting percentage. Tim Layton led the blue team with 11 kills and a .420 hitting percentage, assisted by John Penfield’s match-high five aces.
“We play each other every day in practice,” Slabe said. “But not like this. We just need to keep the chemistry up and play hard as a team.”
So far, the Cougars have played well with Peterson at the helm, earning a 7-1 record in two tournaments played in the off-season.
This year, the Cougars return three key starters from last year: Rafael Paal, Carlos Moreno, and Chris Gorny. Paal, a senior middle blocker from Rio di Janeiro, Brazil, led the team last year in hitting efficiency with a .418 (203-49-375), digs (185) and service aces (39) during the season. Paal was one of only two players last year to play in all 109 games of the season.
Gorny, a junior middle blocker from Palmdale, CA, ranked fourth in the NCAA for blocking last year with 147 on the season, averaging 1.46 per contest. Both Gorny and Paal earned All-MPSF honors.
Moreno, a sophomore setter from Sao Paulo, Brazil, recorded 1372 assists on the season (14.14 per match), finishing as the second-best setter in the nation. Moreno ranked second on the BYU roster with 24 service aces on the season.
“We’re deep in every position,” DuBose said. “All the guys play hard in practice, and they’re all still competing for the starting positions this season.”
The regular season starts on Jan. 10, 2003. BYU’s first match will be against Red Deer College, a team from Alberta, Canada at 7:00 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.