Bruins Host Cougars in Al Scates' Final Two Home Matches
April 3, 2012
This Week -- In what will be legendary head coach Al Scates' final two regular season home matches, the third ranked UCLA men's volleyball team (20-5, 14-4 MPSF) will play a two-game series against the BYU Cougars (20-5, 16-4 MPSF) on Friday, Apr. 6 and Saturday, Apr. 7 in the John Wooden Center. Both matches will begin at 7 pm.
Live Coverage -- Fans can follow both matches on the internet via a live audio and video broadcast at uclabruins.com. Darren Preston, Mike Sondheimer and Connor Reeves will have the call. Fans can also follow the games via Gametracker. Links are available at uclabruins.com on the events calendar on the front page.
In The Rankings -- UCLA remained at No. 3 this week in the AVCA poll after splitting their two matches against UC San Diego and UC Irvine last weekend. The Cougars came in at No. 4 this week after they swept both matches against Cal State Northridge last week.
Scates' Final Home Matches -- As mentioned above, UCLA head coach Al Scates will be coaching in his final two regular season home matches on Friday and Saturday. Scates has compiled a nation-best 1,237 victories in his time at UCLA and leaves behind an unmatched legacy of success, longevity and influence in collegiate men's volleyball. To date, Coach Scates has captured 19 NCAA championships, 21 overall national championships and 24 conference titles. In addition, Scates has coached 52 different first-team NCAA All-Americans, 44 U.S. National Team members, 27 Olympians, 26 USVBA All-Americans and seven collegiate Players of the Year over his 49 year tenure. "Al Scates stands alone in his contributions to the sport of men's volleyball," said Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. "His dedication, passion, and stewardship of the game ushered UCLA into an era of widespread achievement in Olympic sports and broadened athletic opportunities for collegiate men across the country. While bittersweet, Coach Scates' final year at the helm of Bruin volleyball will be a well-deserved season-long celebration for an individual whose lifetime achievements are truly remarkable. Al is among the greatest coaches in the history of college sports and a legend in the annals of UCLA Athletics. He is a Bruin in every sense of the word and we are so thankful for his 50 years of service to the University." Coach Scates will be honored after the match with a jersey retirement ceremony and a video tribute celebrating his 50 year career at UCLA.
Senior Day -- Saturday's match will also mark the last regular season home match for nine senior players and three members of the support staff. Student managers Jeff Alpert and Sean Lee, student athletic trainer Melissa Wilcox, liberos Kristian Kuld and Jamey Ker, outside hitters Ryal Jagd and Jeremy Casebeer, quick hitters Weston Dunlap, Jack Polales and Thomas Amberg, setter Kyle Caldwell and opposite Nick Vogel will all be honored for their accomplishments prior to Saturday's match. This group of seniors has made the MPSF playoffs in each of their four years at UCLA.
Scouting The Cougars -- BYU enters their two-game series with the Bruins with a 20-5 overall record (16-4 in MPSF) and finds themselves sitting atop the standings in the MPSF conference. The Cougars are coming off back-to-back home wins against Cal State Northridge last week, defeating the Matadors 3-0 and 3-1. Sophomore Taylor Sander and senior Robb Stowell led the Cougars in both matches with a combined line of 65 kills, five aces, 26 digs and 10 total blocks. Stowell leads BYU with 319 kills and 384 points while Sander is right behind him with 318 kills and 375 points. Sander also leads the conference in both kills per game (4.89) and points per game (5.77). Senior Futi Tavana is also a key member of the Cougars team, as he has 108 total blocks on the year and is second in the MPSF with 1.61 blocks per set. Junior middle blocker Russ Lavaja leads the team with 147 total blocks this season. Finally, head coach Chris McGown is in his first season as head coach of the Cougars after taking over the position in June of 2011.
The Series With BYU -- The Bruins lead the overall series with the Cougars 35-22, but BYU has won the last three matchups in the series. Last season, the Cougars defeated the Bruins in both matches by scores of 3-1 and 3-0. Gonzalo Quiroga set a school record with five aces in one set in the first match against BYU while Robart Page led the Bruins with 13 kills in the match. Current BYU senior Robb Stowell had 20 kills for the Cougars in their 3-1 win. The next night, BYU swept UCLA behind 17 kills from Stowell. Page again led the Bruins with nine kills in the loss. UCLA last defeated the Cougars back on January 29, 2010 by the score of 3-0. Current UCLA senior Jack Polales had a big night for the Bruins in that match, scoring 19 kills and 21 points to lead all players.
Recapping the Week -- The Bruins split their two matches last week, falling to the UC San Diego Tritons 3-1 on Friday night before coming back and sweeping the top-ranked UC Irvine Anteaters 3-0 on Saturday night. On Friday against the Tritons, UCLA dropped the first two sets and was unable to recover as they lost to UC San Diego in four. Weston Dunlap led the Bruins with a team-high 11 kills and 12.5 points on a .500 hitting percentage while Gonzalo Quiroga and Thomas Amberg recorded 10.5 points apiece with nine and seven kills respectively. Quiroga also led the Bruins with nine digs. Nick Vogel was the only other UCLA player in double figures as he registered 10 points on eight kills, an ace and a solo block. Then on Saturday night, the Bruins picked up a huge road win over the No. 1 ranked Anteaters by the score of 3-0. Quiroga led all players with 13 kills and 14 points while hitting .435 in the match. Amberg also put together a stellar performance, scoring 10 kills, an ace and two block assists to give him 12 points. He also hit an outstanding .692 on 13 attempts. Setter Kyle Caldwell also made a huge difference in the match by setting the Bruins to a .378 hitting percentage to go along with his six digs and five kills in the match.
Top of the Charts -- Several UCLA players find themselves at the top or near the top of the leaderboard in numerous MPSF statistical categories. Seniors Thomas Amberg and Weston Dunlap are first and second respectively in hitting percentage with Amberg hitting a conference leading .498 and Dunlap right behind him with a .479 mark for the year. Amberg and Dunlap are also near the top of the leaderboard in blocks per set, as Amberg is third in the conference with a 1.56 mark and Dunlap is 15th with 0.98 blocks per set. Gonzalo Quiroga is fifth in the MPSF 0.45 service aces per set while sophomore libero Evan Mottram is seventh in the MPSF in digs per game with 2.15. Senior setter Kyle Caldwell is also ninth in the conference with 9.95 assists per set. Finally, UCLA as a team is second in the MPSF conference in hitting percentage (.340) and second in opponent hitting percentage, holding opponents to just a .215 mark. The Bruins are also fourth in the conference in kills per game at 13.23, third in blocks per game with 3.05, and second in service aces per game with 1.22 per set.
The John Wooden Center -- The Bruins are 67-10 all-time at the John Wooden Center, good for an .870 winning percentage. Last season UCLA went 1-2 at the Wooden Center and 7-3 in Pauley Pavilion, combining for an 8-5 home record. This season, UCLA is 8-2 at home in the Wooden Center. The Bruins will return to playing their home games at the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion next year.
Coming Up -- The Bruins will wrap up the regular season with a trip to the Bay Area as they take on the Pacific Tigers on Fri., Apr. 13 at 7 pm and the Stanford Cardinal on Sat., Apr. 14 at 7 pm. UCLA has clinched a berth in the MPSF playoffs and will play in a quarterfinal match on Sat., Apr. 21.
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