The BYU men’s volleyball team hosts the Cal Baptist Lancers in back-to-back matches this weekend fresh off a rise back to the No. 1 spot in the national rankings.
Opposite hitter Ben Patch was named the AVCA National and MPSF Conference Player of the Week for the second week in a row after his record-breaking, 35-kill game in an upset over No. 1 UC Irvine. He is the first player in college volleyball history to win national player of the week two weeks in a row, and he set a new BYU record for kills in a game in the era of rally serving.
Patch’s teammate Taylor Sander has noticed the progress Patch has made in his game so far this season.
“He’s working hard in practice,” Sander said. “He’s taking the feedback that coaches are giving him and he’s really applying that to his game. “He’s just going to keep getting better, which is scary.”
BYU coach Chris McGown has noticed Patch’s improvements as well.
“He’s made remarkable progress,” McGown said. “He’s just started to learn and progress and has just played with this freedom of conscience out there. Mistakes don’t seem to rattle him too much. He just keeps coming back and swinging hard.”
Things are looking great for the men’s volleyball team this season. Aside from the No. 1 ranking and freshman phenom Patch, the Cougars lead their conference in hitting percentage, opponent hitting percentage and blocks per game. Offtheblockblog.com reported the Cougars are on pace to finish with the highest fan attendance in the nation for at least the second year in a row.
Cal Baptist is 8–9 this season, but have won their last two matches. The Lancers are led by a pair of big outside hitters, Levi Cabral and Guilherme Koepp. Both are averaging over four kills per set. This is Cal Baptist’s first year in BYU’s conference, but the Cougars still have a long history with the Lancers. McGown is preparing his team for a couple of tough matches this weekend.
“They’ve always had really good teams,” McGown said. “They’ve been NAIA champs a lot of years, and these guys are phenomenal volleyball players. They have a guy that’s ambidextrous as an opposite. It looks kind of interesting because he goes up to hit it right handed and then all of a sudden he hits it hard left handed and you’re just not used to seeing that, ever. They’re a really, really good team.”
Both matches start at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse and will be broadcast on BYUtv.