The BYU men’s volleyball team had another strong season in 2017 with an overall record of 26-5 and a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship.
The Cougars also achieved coach Shawn Olmstead’s goal of competing in the NCAA national championship for the second year in a row.
Olmstead, who was named 2016 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation coach of the year, started coaching the BYU men’s volleyball team in 2015.
Assistant coaches Luka Slabe, a previous coach to several European teams, and Jaylen Reyes, a previous BYU libero, brought unique experiences on and off the court that added strength to the squad throughout the season.
The Cougars welcomed in seven freshmen and one sophomore transfer to the roster, with All-Americans Ben Patch, Brenden Sander, Jake Langlois and Leo Durkin returning.
On May 1, the American Volleyball Coaches Association named four BYU players to its All-American list. Langlois was named to the first team and Durkin, Sander and Price Jarman received honorable mentions.
Langlois, Durkin and Sander received All-American honors for the second time in their careers, proving their outstanding performance and skills.
The team loses three seniors, including outside hitter Langlois.
Langlois ended his career with 329 kills, 60 blocks and a .357 hitting percentage. Seniors Joseph Grosh and Kiril Meretev will also be leaving the team.
Starting the season off with a 3-0 sweep against Lewis on January 6, expectations for the team were high. But hopes faltered early when the Cougars were upset by No. 11 Loyola-Chicago in the second.
BYU came back strong, winning five consecutive games and dropping just two sets over that stretch.
The Cougars then had their longest winning streak since 2004, winning 15 consecutive games after a loss to No. 7 UC Irvine.
The streak was capped off by a 3-2 upset of No. 1 Long Beach State in Provo.
The streak ended when the 49ers swept the Cougars in a rematch the next day.
Despite various injuries and setbacks, BYU stayed strong. The Cougars swept Long Beach State in the national semifinal game May 4, advancing to the NCAA championship for the second straight year.
BYU fell to the top-ranked Buckeyes in straight sets (25-19, 25-20, 25-22) at St. John Area in the national championship match.
“Congrats to Ohio State on an outstanding season,” Olmstead said. “They definitely played a better volleyball match than we did tonight. I feel for these guys. I wish it was a different result, but it’s not. How we handle these losses will show a lot about us as a team.”
Both teams played well and put forth their best efforts, given the stress of winning the national title.
“They’re a tough team,” Jarman said. “They have really good players at every position, so we kind of just had to make some choices on who we’re going to try and take away.”
BYU has a large group of dedicated fans who support them at every home game. The Cougars love their fans because they helped rally the team and get them ready to take on the competition. Games out of state can be a little more difficult without the fan support, but BYU finds strength in each other to bring out their best performance.
“Getting going as a team helped us a lot.” Sander said. “We’re focused more on a team effort and team energy and just focused on the team more than anything else.”
Overall the 2017 season was a great success, but the Cougars hope to improve even more and have another chance at the NCAA championship title in 2018.