The BYU men’s volleyball team jumped up to the No. 1 ranking in college volleyball after taking down then No. 1 UC Irvine on Jan. 18 and UC San Diego Jan. 19.
The Cougars received all 16 first place votes in the AVCA Coaches’ Poll. They have a 5–1 record on the season and have won three matches in a row. BYU Head Coach Chris McGown is cautiously optimistic about his team being ranked No. 1.
“(We need to) make sure every day when we come to practice (that we) practice like we deserve it and we’re giving a great effort because teams are coming after us now,” McGown said. “Just like we were excited to beat the number one team, teams are excited to beat us.”
Rounding out the top five are Pepperdine, UC Irvine, Stanford and UCLA.
Sander led the way for the Cougars against UC Irvine and San Diego with 27 kills and a .375 hitting percentage, while the team won an impressive six of seven sets.
“I found out through a roommate that I had won it,” Sander said. “I mean it’s awesome to do it for BYU, but I don’t think I’ve been playing very good. It’s an honor to get that award, but I definitely think I could be playing better for our team.”
McGown and Sander also weighed in on where they believe the team is at this point in the season. McGown has been pleased with the chemistry, team culture and accountability the team has demonstrated. Sander said there is always room for improvement and thinks the Cougars can accomplish far beyond what they have accomplished so far this year.
The Cougars have this week off before facing Long Beach State and Northridge in back-to-back matches this weekend and McGown has been taking advantage of the week off they’ve had.
“The thing we’ve been working on the most is resting,” McGown said. “We feel like that’s been as important as anything we’ve had, and the bye (week) came at a nice time to get some much needed rest after going really hard since right after Christmas.”