BYU men’s volleyball chasing fourth national title

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Ari Davis
Ben Patch celebrates after winning a point in the game against USC. Patch leads the Cougars to the NCAA tournament as a First Team All-MPSF selection. (Ari Davis)

The BYU men’s volleyball team is rolling into the 2016 NCAA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after a record-setting regular season.

In his first season as men’s volleyball head coach, Shawn Olmstead led the Cougars to a 26-3 record and the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season and tournament titles.

BYU’s 26 wins are the second-most in school history in the rally scoring era. The 2004 national championship team, which featured Olmstead as a player, holds the program record with 29 wins.

This year’s roster had six Cougars receive All-MPSF accolades. Ben Patch, Brenden Sander and Jake Langlois were each named to the All-MPSF First Team.

The Cougars were the No. 1 seed in the MPSF tournament and hosted the No. 3 seed UCLA Bruins at home in the Smith Fieldhouse for the tournament championship. Strong performances by Patch and Sander propelled the Cougars to a 3-1 win (25-20, 25-19, 18-25, 25-15) over the Bruins and a MPSF tournament title.

Patch, who had double-digit kills in the championship match, was named the MPSF Tournament MVP. Sander and Leo Durkin were named as members of the All-Tournament Team.

Shortly after the tournament, Olmstead was named the 2016 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year. Olmstead is the fourth coach at BYU to earn the honor, joining Chris McGown (2013), Carl McGown (1999 and 2001) and Tom Peterson (2003).

But Olmstead is more concerned with his players than his own personal awards.

“I’m just happy for them,” Olmstead said after the Cougars defeated UCLA in the MPSF title game. “I can’t thank our coaches and everyone who helps us enough. I hope the guys continue to enjoy it and continue to get better.”

Both BYU and UCLA advanced to the NCAA tournament semifinals on first-round byes. No. 4 seed Long Beach State (24-7) will face off against No. 5 seed Erksine (21-6) and No. 3 seed Ohio State (28-2) will play No. 6 seed George Mason (18-11) in the opening round matchups.

BYU will face the winner of the Long Beach State and Erskine game in the semifinals on Thursday, May 5. The Cougars are 1-1 against Long Beach this season. They did not play against Erskine. UCLA will play the winner of the Ohio State and George Mason game the same day. The Bruins haven’t faced either school this season.

The title game will be played on Saturday, May 7 at 6 p.m. MDT. All of the tournament games will be played at Penn State University.

The Cougars made the NCAA tournament for the third time in the last four seasons. They missed the cut last season after finishing 17-10.

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