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Y. spikers hit road

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After battling two non-conference teams last week, the top-ranked BYU men's volleyball team returns to league play at UC San Diego on Friday and Saturday in the RIMAC Arena. The matches start at 8 p.m.

The Cougars tied the school record at 18 straight wins, previously set by the 1999 team, after defeating George Mason and Lewis last week.

"These matches against UCSD are big for us on the road," BYU coach Tom Peterson said. "They have won more matches this year than they ever have. Coach Ron Larsen is a BYU grad and has done a great job there, even without scholarships for the athletes. They could cause some problems if we're not ready."

BYU (15-1 MPSF) sits atop the conference for the fifth straight week.

The match on Friday will be the 15th meeting between the two teams, with BYU holding a 14-0 overall record over UC San Diego, including six wins in California. The Cougars swept the Titans in San Diego last year, 3-0, the first match and 3-1 in the second match.

"We'll have to play good to win and not make little mistakes," Peterson said. "We try not to think about winning streaks or rankings. What we're concerned about is how well we perform each night. Everything else will just take care of itself."

After clinching an MPSF tournament berth, BYU looks to finish out the season strong in time for April 24 in hopes of playing host to the first round of the tournament.

With career- and season-high hitting last Saturday, BYU dismantled George Mason, 3-0. Coming off an emotional win over Lewis on Friday, the team settled down and focused on its game, using seven players off the bench. All-American Jon Alleman had 18 kills and a career-high .857 hitting percentage, also adding four blocks and four digs on defense.

On Friday, the Cougars put together a 3-1 victory over Lewis, which edged BYU in the 2003 national championship. After dropping the first game, 28-30, the Cougars put together three wins (30-25, 30-28, 30-20) to dash the Flyers' hopes of another upset.

The match brought in a season-high 4,342 fans in the Smith Fieldhouse. All-American candidate Fernando Pessoa led the Cougar attack with a match-leading 21 kills. BYU hit a .347 percentage. Alleman pitched in 12 kills, three digs and two blocks to help the Cougars to another win.

The last road trip of the regular season will take the Cougars to UCLA on Apr. 8-9.