After enjoying home court advantage for four straight weeks, the No. 4 BYU men’s volleyball team travels to Hawaii this weekend to take on No. 11 Hawaii.
According to head coach Chris McGown, the Warriors are not only a good team but they also have a strong home crowd, which will ultimately boost their confidence against the Cougars.
“I think they’ll play hard and they’ll be really motivated to perform in front of their fans,” McGown said. “The environment there is wonderful and they’ve got really, really good home court fans, so it’s tough playing there. I think this is a good team and we’re trying to convince our guys this is a good team and that we have to prepare well for them.”
McGown said Hawaii’s biggest strength lies in its outside hitters and its passing ability. Hawaii’s attack is led by senior outside hitter Steven Hunt, who is second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in kills per game, second only to BYU outside hitter Taylor Sander. Hunt currently averages 4.10 kills per game and turned in 22 kills in Hawaii’s four-set victory over Stanford on March 10. Hawaii’s strong passing game is led by senior libero Nick Castello, who is currently ranked third in the MPSF in digs.
McGown said the key to beating the Warriors this weekend will be good fundamental volleyball rather than sporadic power plays.
“The thing we’re working on right now is mentally understanding that we’re trying to be a good team over time as opposed to a team that has great moments here and there,” McGown said. “We talk to our guys about playing good volleyball – we don’t have to make spectacular plays all the time. We just have to make good, consistent, smart plays all the time. We’re trying to win the war and maybe not the individual battles in spectacular fashion.”
He added the team’s ability to play well consistently rather than in spurts is a sign of its mental maturity.
“It’s not an easy lesson to learn: to have that kind of patience and to have that kind of camaraderie within the team to just keep going and going and going,” McGown said. “I think we’ve found some mental maturity on that ground and the guys are supporting each other on that end.”
He also said the Cougars must work hard individually in order to compose a strong, unified whole.
“We just simply think each opponent deserves our respect and our best preparation and our best execution, and the score will kind of take care of itself,” McGown said. “That’s what we challenge our guys to do – in order to have that happen in our favor, the score taking care of itself, each guy has to prepare individually and get better every day individually. And in so doing, the team will ultimately be better.”
The Cougars will take on the Warriors on both March 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. HST.