No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball defeats defending champs in season opener

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The BYU Men’s Volleyball Team proved they deserved their No. 1 preseason ranking after they beat the defending national champion and No. 3 ranked Loyola University Chicago in four sets. The Cougars hosted the annual AVCA Showcase this weekend, and started it off just the way they wanted.

Jake Langlois goes up for a hit against Loyola University Chicago. BYU beat Loyola-Chicago in four sets. (Ari Davis)

“I thought it was a great volleyball match. They’ve got a lot of outstanding experience, just a lot of great players. I’m really happy with the outcome, but in general the guys did a great job,” said BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead.

BYU set the tone in the first set, dominating 25-19. The efficiency and energy allowed the Cougars to pull away and had an impressive 67 percent attack success rate compared to Loyola-Chicago’s 29 percent. Sophomore Ben Patch, who is in his first season back from his LDS mission, led the way with 5 of his 21 kills.

“This was just such a humbling experience to be back. It’s kind of overwhelming and daunting at first how much love you feel from BYU fans. It’s been a really good experience tonight,” Patch said.

The Smith Fieldhouse was full of energy as the Cougars fought to win the third set after losing the second set. The 5,637 fans in attendance gave BYU a swagger for the rest of the sets.

“BYU’s a great environment. The nice thing is that you have 5,000 people rooting for you, so you can’t do anything wrong,” Sophomore Leo Durkin said.

This win marks the beginning of a new era under coach Olmstead, who spent the past four years as head coach for the women’s volleyball team.

The Cougars are set to face No. 14 George Mason in the Smith Fieldhouse January 9th at 7:00 p.m. MST.

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