Jan. 7, 2002
UCLA men's volleyball begins the 2002 season on the road, traveling to the UC Irvine Tournament this weekend for three matches in two days.
On Fri., Jan. 11, the Bruins meet host UC Irvine at 7 p.m., and then face USC and Pepperdine in a doubleheader on Sat., Jan. 12. Saturday's match against the Trojans begins at noon and the contest against the Waves starts at 7 p.m. All matches will be played at Crawford Hall.
Legendary Head Coach Al Scates enters his 40th season with a career record of 1,019-167 (.859) and 18 NCAA titles. He leads all Division I volleyball coaches of both genders in victories and national championships.
In 2002, the Bruins return seven lettermen and four starters from a team that posted a 24-8 record, won its 23rd conference championship and advanced to the NCAA finals for the 22nd time.
"I think this team will be better than last year's squad," said Scates. "because of the improvement of the returning players and because of our depth."
A veteran club, the Bruins boast five returnees who have played in at least one NCAA Championship match. Four of those five players have rings from the 2000 championship season.
One of the ring bearers is senior outside hitter Matt Komer, the Bruins top returning offensive threat. Also returning to the starting lineup are juniors Cameron Mount (outside hitter), Rich Nelson (setter) and Scott Morrow (quick hitter). Morrow is entering his third season as a starter after earning NCAA All-Tournament honors in 2001, and Nelson and Mount are beginning their second seasons as full-time starters.
Second-team All-MPSF Libero Adam Shrader also returns for his sophomore season as the team's top defensive player after leading the Bruins in digs as a freshman.
Also beginning his first season as a full-time starter will be third-year sophomore Chris Pe?a of Santa Ynez. Pe?a led the Bruins in blocking during the Fall schedule.
Expected to make major contributions to the lineup will be a corps of talented freshmen, including outside hitter Jonathan Acosta of Puerto Rico and quick hitter David Russell from Royal HS in Simi Valley.
Last Saturday, the Bruins defeated the UCLA Alumni, 3-2, in Pauley Pavilion. The first string varsity crushed the Alumni 30-21, 30-19 in the first two games. The second string varsity dropped Games 3 & 4, 19-30, 24-30 before the Bruins won the fifth game 20-18.
Acosta led the Bruins with 16 kills and three block assists in four games, followed by Komer's nine kills, two aces, three digs and three blocks in two games.
Following the UC Irvine Tournament, the Bruins will travel to the Eighth Annual Outrigger Hotels Invitational, hosted by the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Participating teams include Hawaii, Penn State and Lewis University. The Bruins have won this tournament five times, including last four.
After their league opener at Long Beach State Jan. 25, the Bruins' will return home on Sat., Jan. 26 against UC San Diego for a 7 p.m. match at the John Wooden Center.