PROVO, Utah -- Back at No. 2 in the nation, BYU hosts No. 5 UC Santa Barbara and No. 9 UCLA in its final regular-season home matches Friday and Saturday.
The Cougars (16-4, 16-2 MPSF) welcome the Gauchos (13-6, 12-6 MPSF) on Friday. Last season, BYU defeated the Gauchos 3-2 on the road.
Saturday, the Cougars face UCLA (14-8, 11-7 MPSF). BYU last faced the Bruins in the championship match of the 2013 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament held at the Fieldhouse. The Cougars came away with a 3-2 victory.
Overall, BYU is 33-19 against UC Santa Barbara and 25-30 against UCLA. This is the first time the Cougars have met either the Gauchos or the Bruins this season.
BYU is led by outside hitter Taylor Sander, who holds the Cougar rally-scoring era career kills record with 1,563 and the all-time BYU service ace record with 160. Sander is second in the nation in kills per set this season with a 4.59 average.
Sander is helped out by setter Tyler Heap’s 10.78 assists per set. On defense, Michael Hatch leads with 1.49 blocks per set, good for No. 3 nationally, and Jaylen Reyes contributes 1.79 digs per set.
Evan Licht leads UC Santa Barbara with 3.0 kills per set, helped out by Jonah Seif’s 10.39 assists per set. Chad Kingi averages 2.19 digs per set.
Robart Page leads UCLA with 4.05 kills per set, hitting .290. Hagen Smith contributes 8.33 assists per set, while Spencer Rowe averages 1.03 blocks per set to lead the Bruins.
Both teams will face Cal Baptist prior to their trips to Provo.
Top-ranked Loyola Chicago faces one of its more challenging weekends of the season, playing No. 12 Ball State at home on Thursday before traveling to No. 14 IPFW on Saturday. ... No. 3 Pepperdine comes into its Friday match with No. 6 Stanford on a five-match winnings streak. The Cardinal have also won five in a row, but will play No. 7 Southern California on Thursday. ... No. 4 Long Beach State looks to rebound from its two losses last weekend with matches against UC San Diego and No. 8 UC Irvine. ... No. 10 Hawaii is idle this weekend.