Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
BYU players celebrate a point over Penn State in the third set of their NCAA Final Four college volleyball tournament semifinal at UCLA in Los Angeles Thursday, May 2, 2013. BYU won, 25-21, 25-16, 25-22. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
BYU volleyball: Cougs, UC Irvine to meet, with national title on the line

Both teams expected to meet each other in NCAA championship.

First Published May 03 2013 04:44 pm • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:31 pm

Los Angeles • How do you plan for a team you’ve been scheming for all year?

When they’re in your thoughts and dreams and blueprints, when they’re the team you expect to face with it all on the line, when all along, you’ve expected them to be the last bump (and set and spike) on the road to the championship?

At a glance

BYU vs. UC Irvine

O NCAA Championship

At Pauley Pavilion, L.A.

Saturday, 7 p.m.

Records » BYU 26-4, UC Irvine 24-7


Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

You do what you’ve been doing all along.

And you cross your fingers.

"BYU is a team that we’ve been planning to play in this moment since last year," said UC Irvine men’s volleyball coach David Kniffin, whose Anteaters will square off against the Cougars on Saturday in the NCAA Men’s Volleyball championship at 7 p.m. MT in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. "What BYU has coming at us right now is a very hot offense. Offensively, they are just a really tough team to stop."

The top-seeded Cougars (26-4) thoroughly dominated Penn State, 3-0, on Thursday night in the semifinals as they claimed a 12.5-2 advantage in blocks.

With Taylor Sander and Ben Patch in full attack mode — Sander had 17 kills, with a .556 attack percentage, and seven digs; Patch had 12 kills, five digs and 3.5 blocks — BYU cruised through most of the match until a back-and-forth third game. No problem: Sander had nine kills as the Cougars came back from a 19-15 deficit.

"We can take some confidence from the fact that we were in a really tough spot being down in the third," BYU coach Chris McCown said. "Our team understands we can team through some of these tough moments."

Against UC Irvine, there should be some.

The defending-champion Anteaters (24-7), who steamrolled Loyola-Chicago in three games in the other semifinal, have won eight of their last nine — the lone loss coming in the MPSF semifinals to Long Beach State.

story continues below
story continues below

Winners of three titles in six years, UC Irvine claimed the preseason No. 1 ranking, just ahead of No. 2 BYU.

Just as UC Irvine anticipated a championship matchup with the Cougars, BYU awaited the Anteaters.

"Two best teams in the country in preseason," Patch said, "I think they nailed it when they said it was going to be us, and here we are."

The Cougars seek their third win over UC Irvine this season, the two losses sandwiching a then-nation-leading 11-match winning streak for the Anteaters.

BYU expects a different look from UC Irvine — McCown said the Cougars were "kind of pushing the reset button" — but will counter anything unexpected with a potent lineup that also includes Russ Lavaja, Josue Rivera, Devin Young and Ryan Boyce. This time, much more than pride or seeding is on the line for the two foe-turned-fortune-tellers.

As they expected all year.

"Whether these are the two teams that should be playing the finals, it’s the two teams that I envisioned playing in the finals," Kniffin said.

"That’s something we’ve been training for all year. The nice thing about going in and playing BYU this time of year is that we’re exactly where I thought we’d be. We’re the number two seed going in and we haven’t shown all our cards."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.