By Kent Larsen
LDS-Dominated BYU Volleyball Team Developing Storied History
PROVO, UTAH -- For many years, facing the UCLA men's volleyball team
was about the most difficult task imaginable for many opponents.
UCLA's team, perennial powerhouse and winner of 18 NCAA championships
in the last 3 decades, is a formidable foe with a storied history.
However, a team of volleyball upstarts from the mountains of Provo
were able to overcome a very talented group of UCLA athletes at last
weekend's NCAA championships held at The Pyramid in Long Beach,
California. BYU successfully swept UCLA 3-0 in the championship match
and, having won two out of the last three NCAA titles, are making a
little history of their own.
BYU's relatively young volleyball program, only in existence for 11
years, has now won more championship trophies than any other school
located outside of the state of California. During the regular
season, BYU spent seven weeks ranked as the number one team in the
nation and won the MPSF regular-season championship. However, BYU
faltered during the MPSF tournament and lost to Hawaii while UCLA won
the championship, the automatic bid to the Final Four, and the nod as
the number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. BYU, having previously
beaten UCLA during the regular season, was awarded the only
"at-large" bid to the Final Four and quickly showed that they were
the best team in the tournament, beating Penn State in the
semi-finals before defeating UCLA in the finals. The strength of
BYU's team was further recognized as 4 of BYU's players were named
Not only has BYU established themselves as a solid team this year,
they are poised to be a force in the future as well. Although several
key players will leave the program, the remaining players are both
talented and experienced. Graduating seniors include setter Hector
Lebron and middle blockers Scott Bunker and Mac Wilson. Returning
players include outside hitter and NCAA tournament MVP Mike Wall
along with two of BYU's most talented international players, Joaquin
Acosta from Puerto Rico and Luka Slabe from Slovenia. Wall, one of
the most impressive players for BYU all year finished the tournament
with 16 kills, five digs and four block assists.
Of special interest to readers of Mormon News is the fact that BYU's
success has come from a group of players that are predominately LDS.
Coach Carl McGown has assembled a team where 10 of the 14 players on
the varsity squad belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints and 6 of the players have served missions.
Intimidation Role Goes to Cougars
Salt Lake Tribune 7May01 S2
By Phil Miller: Salt Lake Tribune
Cougar volleyball team thinking repeat
Deseret News 8May01 S2
By Jeff Call: Deseret News sports writer
A host of talented players will be returning to squad
BYU's Wall named tourney's outstanding player
ESPN.com (AP) 5May01 S2