PROVO — The second-ranked BYU men's volleyball team made easy work of No. 8 UC Santa Barbara with a three-game sweep Saturday night to remain undefeated, but Cougar coach Tom Peterson passed it off as all but necessary.

"All we did was hold serve," said Peterson, mindful that home matches are required winning in the powerhouse-packed Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

In beating the Gauchos the second time in as many nights, the Cougars needed just 95 minutes to post a 30-24, 30-28, 30-24 victory before a Smith Fieldhouse crowd of 3,592.

BYU improved to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in MPSF play; UCSB dropped to 2-5 and 1-3.

Next up for the Cougars is a two-match trip to UCLA, which started 2006 in the same No. 2 poll spot that BYU now occupies. It's the first road swing for BYU, where MPSF road victories will be at a premium.

Just as the California teams have to adjust to playing at higher elevation and often watch their serves and kills sail in Provo's thin air, the Cougars will have to adjust to playing at sea level, where balls don't carry as far.

"We're going to move our back line in practice this week two and a half to three feet deeper," said Peterson, adding that his players will "feel like they're banging it harder."

In sweeping the two-match regular-season series against Santa Barbara, BYU avenged its MPSF Tournament quarterfinal ouster that came at the hands of the visiting Gauchos.

"It gave us some motivation in practice this week," said setter Rob Nielson, "but once you start to play, you just want to get the win."

Besides Ivan Perez' game-high 19 kills, BYU used a balanced supporting effort in its attack, with outside Jonathan Charette adding nine kills and middles Victor Batista and Russell Holmes eight and seven, respectively.

"It's so hard for them to key on any one guy in our offense," Peterson said.

BYU outhit UCSB .337 to .214 and outblocked the visitors 10-3.

Evan Patak led the Gauchos with 18 kills, and Michael Fisher added 10.

The Cougars never trailed in the opening game, hitting .425 and having Perez's eight kills and Batista's five negate Patak's 10.

The Gauchos seemed in control in the second game, hitting .400 better than BYU at midmatch and enjoying a late 25-21 lead. But the Cougars battled back to knot the score late, claiming the final two points on a combo block by Batista and Trent Sorensen and a net violation by Patak on a would-be kill.

In the final game, BYU hit .316 while UCSB flirted with a sub-zero hitting percentage through much of the match before settling for a meager .091.


E-mail: taylor@desnews.com