The No. 1 ranked BYU men’s volleyball team completes its regular season Saturday but hopes to still be playing in May.
That goal looks like a reality after BYU wrapped up its first regular season conference title since 2004 with a win over UC Santa Barbara, but team members realize they still have work to do before the postseason. BYU coach Chris McGown identified some areas of improvement the teams needs to make going into postseason play.
“We’ve got to serve better and put a little more pressure on them,” McGown said. “We need to defend overall a little bit better with our team defense.”
The Cougars retained their No. 1 national ranking despite the loss to UCLA last week. It is the sixth week in a row the Cougars have held the top spot. The Cougars faces the Pacific Tigers on Friday and the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday in rematches against both teams. Although these last two games won’t have an effect on the Cougars’ position in the conference tournament, McGown wants his team to have some momentum going into the postseason.
“Right now, our focus is still on that first phase of we want to win every game we can in the conference,” McGown said. “Our mentality is let’s go play really hard this weekend against two really good teams.”
The Cougars dominated the Tigers in their first match, sweeping them 3–0. The Tigers have struggled this season, posting an 8–18 record on the season, but are led by a strong duo of outside hitters, Taylor Hughes and Adam Troy.
BYU narrowly pulled off a victory against Stanford in late February, winning by two points in a decisive fifth set. It was an emotional win for Taylor Sander especially, who had defeated every team besides Stanford in his three-year career before February’s match.
“When we won the first time it was just about how hard can we battle and how hard we can scrap and dig balls and outplay those guys,” Sander said. “That’s what helped us get that outcome.”
The Cardinals are ranked No. 8 in the nation and have a 14–11 record on the year. The Cardinals are led by junior outside hitters Brian Cook and Steven Irvin, each averaging over three kills per set.
The Cougars return home Saturday, April 20, to host the first round of the MPSF Conference tournament. They can host up to three games if they win. The NCAA tournament begins May 2 at the Pauley Pavillion, home of UCLA, and the championship will be played May 4.