By AMY POOLE
The BYU men’s volleyball team will keep the tradition of excellence alive this upcoming season.
BYU men’s volleyball coach Carl McGown said “five returning starters will give depth to this season as one of the top three or four teams in the nation.”
This year will be an exciting one for the players and the fans, said Ryan Millar, senior, middle blocker.
The first match begins Jan. 7 at home against University of California Irvine.
Millar said he hopes the team will break the attendance record at the Marriot Center this year when they play against Hawaii in February. Hawaii holds the record of 10,200 fans attending a single match, which gives the players an incentive to win the match and attract more fans than they ever have before. The admission will be $1.
Men’s volleyball games have always been filled with screaming fans.
Even from the beginning of NCAA volleyball in 1990, 5,000 fans came to the first game against Pepperdine, McGown said.
“The Smith Fieldhouse is a great place to play because of the power and emotion you can feel. We have charismatic players like Ossie Antonetti and Ryan Millar who are very exciting to watch,” McGown said.
Last year, 6,000 fans gathered at the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse for the game against Hawaii. About 1,000 students were turned away at this game because there wasn’t enough room. The volleyball team has already broken the record for attendance at the Fieldhouse, Millar said.
According to Millar, home games are more exciting and easier on the athletes because they can be prepared for the game. Away games are difficult because the players are tired from traveling and playing four matches in four days. Every odd year BYU gets a good home schedule.
This year the team has a great home schedule playing the top teams in the nation like UCLA, Long Beach State, Hawaii, Pepperdine and Stanford, McGown said.
The ’96 season had a young team with five new freshmen and one junior as the starters. Millar said they ranked twelfth in the nation because they were a young team with a bad road schedule. Now, these freshman are seniors who have worked together for three years and are ready to win. This season, the starters will probably be three seniors and three juniors, Millar said.
Two years ago was the best season for BYU volleyball. In 1997 the team was ranked No.1 until they lost at the game before finals of the MPSF against Stanford, said Oswald Antonetti, senior, outside hitter.
Antonetti said the team will be better this year than last year.
“It’s all about believing and knowing that we can win,” Antonetti said.
The team is more together this year because we have good relations with each other, Millar said.
The players meet together often and discuss volleyball, go golfing and dress up in funny costumes to cheer for the women’s volleyball team, Millar said.
Hugh McCutcheon, Assistant Coach, who played volleyball for BYU from 1990-1993 in the beginning years of NCAA said,”we started out as a very bad team but got very good starting in 1993,” McCutcheon said.
He also said the BYU Men’s Volleyball program “is a perennial power in the sport of volleyball.”
Brad Goldston, outside hitter, said, the team is more mature than past years. “Our team is so deep that the coach can put anyone out on the court.”
New players are returned missionaries and recruits. Brad Goldston and Eric Carlsen are back from their missions to help the team. The recruits are Derris Moore, Casey Jennings and Brad Skerrett. In addition, 6’9 sophomore, Lars Christensen made the tryouts. The three new freshmen recruits who have joined the team are John Earnest, Rob Congeliere and Jaime Mayol, McGown said.
The four returning seniors are Antonetti, Steve Hinds, Ingo Lindemann and Millar.