Men’s volleyball players come from far and wide

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From Germany, Bulgaria, Canada and Puerto Rico, all the way to Provo. The BYU men’s volleyball team attracts players from all over the globe to campus, thanks to BYU’s high standards on and off the court.

“It gets distilled down to a few basic things,” said head coach Chris McGown. “You’re going to have a lot of guys who are really good volleyball players who are really committed to being a great team on the court with you all the time. You’re going to get this really great education, and you’re going to have a social life that has a depth that isn’t clouded by a fog of alcoholism.”

BYU Men's Volleyball features international players Josue Rivera, Carson Heninger, Kiril Meretev and Tim Dobbert. Photo by Natalie Stoker
BYU Men’s volleyball team features international players Josue Rivera, Carson Heninger, Kiril Meretev and Tim Dobbert. (Photo by Natalie Stoker)

BYU’s Honor Code is a determining factor for a lot of players who want to play for BYU, but those who choose to accept the standards have perks to look forward to.

“If you look at the Honor Code as this thing that helps focus my life, then there’s nowhere better,” McGown said. “You’re going to play in front of these great crowds. You’re going to be on TV all the time. So, guys that have an interest in this lifestyle, it’s an easy sell after that.”

It’s not just the atmosphere but the high level of talent at BYU that brings in players from all over the world.

“We have some of the most elite coaches in America,” said Carson Heninger, a sophomore opposite hitter from Magrath, Alberta. “I could have went back and played in Canada, but caliber-wise it’s a lot more competitive here. Even as a team, the practices are a lot more competitive because everyone has a lot of talent. Everyone pushes each other in practice so that when the games come we’re already used to it since we’ve been practicing so hard.”

BYU’s high-level talent has caught the eyes of not only new recruits, but fans as well. Thousands fill the Smith Fieldhouse each match, and players love to play in front of the big, loud BYU crowds.

“In Germany it’s not possible to get the gym full like we do here,” said Tim Dobbert, a freshman opposite hitter from Aichelberg, Germany.

Of BYU’s 19 players on this season’s roster, 10 are from California. Yet, outside of the Golden State, players represent five separate U.S. states, one U.S. territory and three foreign countries.

Regardless of where they call home, the Cougars have found that their decision to play for BYU was the right one.

“I’ve grown up so much here,” said Taylor Sander, an All-American outside hitter from Huntington Beach, Calif. “It’s helped me become a better individual. Volleyball-wise, it’s the best place in the nation to play volleyball at a college level. I’ve just been lucky to be here and get the fan support we do. And the coaches that we get, it’s really just a blessing.”

The BYU atmosphere brought players together, and no matter where they’ve come from, they become part of the BYU volleyball family.

“We treat everyone like family,” said Josue Rivera, a junior outside hitter from San Juan, Puerto Rico. “We call each other brothers, and on or off the court we’re there for each other.”

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