Tuesday, September 22, 2020

BYU volleyball’s Zach Eschenberg finishing senior season strong

Senior Zach Eschenberg learned the value of hard work, diligence and focus during his time on BYU’s volleyball team.

Eschenberg grew up in Newbury Park, California, and was introduced to volleyball in elementary school. When he first started playing, volleyball was a casual hobby. His main focus was basketball.

“I liked playing basketball more than anything,” Eschenberg said. “I was never super interested in volleyball at that point.”

His focus remained on basketball until high school, when the environment of the basketball program became less enjoyable to him and volleyball became more appealing. The energetic environment that volleyball provided encouraged him to turn his attention to that rather than basketball. He had good relationships with his teammates and coach, and opportunities started to open up for him in volleyball.

“Everything started working out for volleyball,” Eschenberg said. “It was kind of amazing, actually, how the pieces all lined up together.”

Zach Eschenberg passes the ball during BYU’s game against Pepperdine on Saturday, Feb. 8. (Hannah Miner)

BYU was always Eschenberg’s first choice for college — his parents both attended BYU, and his dad played on the JV basketball team. The senior’s original goal was to play basketball at BYU, but once that was out of the picture, he started working hard to be able to play college volleyball. His coaches helped him get in contact with the coaches at BYU, and although Eschenberg had a few other schools reaching out to him, he knew he wanted to go to BYU.

The outside hitter joined BYU’s roster in 2017. During his freshman season, he played in three games. This season, he has played and started in 14 games. He has 100 kills, 62 digs and 122.5 points this season as of Feb. 24, and owns a .32 hitting percentage. His career totals include 162 points, 131 kills and 85 digs.

BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said Eschenberg has improved tremendously since his first year on the team.

“All the credit is to him because he’s the one that’s put the work in and he’s been diligent through the entire process,” Olmstead said. “He’s been able to just grow through the process and be patient with it and allow it to come.”

Eschenberg said his time at BYU taught him the value of patience, diligence, focus and hard work. He added that when he first arrived at BYU, he felt like he would never get to play because the other players on the team were so talented. As he worked hard every day, he was able to play more.

Eschenberg attempts a kill during BYU’s game against Pepperdine. (Hannah Miner)

One person who has been influential during Eschenberg’s journey at BYU is his wife, Kennedy Eschenberg, who plays on BYU’s women’s volleyball team.

“She’s such a hard worker and I saw it pay off for her,” Eschenberg said. “She was always there supporting me, helping me, listening to me when I came to her with frustrations or concerns. She was always very helpful.”

In addition to his wife, Eschenberg said his family and coaches have been influential. He added that assistant coach Micah Naone has been especially helpful. They became close during Eschenberg’s sophomore year when Naone was a volunteer assistant.

“He was one of the first ones where I could really see that he believed in me,” Eschenberg said. “The other coaches were a lot more focused on the older guys. Micah would stay back with the guys who didn’t travel and would help us run practice and stuff.”

Naone said Eschenberg brings positive energy to the court, both in practice and matches. He is always looking to improve and willing to work hard.

“He never makes like an excuse for something,” Naone said. “It’s always, ‘How can I get better in this situation? How can I improve who I am in this moment?’ I just saw that all the time. He’s deserved every bit he’s getting right now.”

Eschenberg is looking forward to taking one game at a time during the remainder of his final season at BYU. He is excited to get better every game and to play to compete.

“This is the most fun I’ve had any season at BYU. Playing with these guys and in general is so much fun,” Eschenberg said. “I’m looking forward to going out and competing each and every game, getting better and obviously battling with all my brothers.”

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