Monday, August 3, 2020

Preview: No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball vs No. 1 Hawaii

No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball will travel to Honolulu March 5-6 to play No. 1 Hawaii. Both teams are undefeated this season, with BYU’s record being 16-0 and Hawaii’s 14-0 as of March 4.

“We’re going to go into the game and we’re going to focus on ourselves, and Hawaii’s going to do their thing,” Wil Stanley said. “They’re going to score points, and we just have to be able to say, ‘We’re going to do this, we came in with this game plan, we’re gonna execute that,’ and hopefully come out with two wins.”

Stanley added that the team is approaching the games with confidence despite Hawaii’s No. 1 ranking.

“I think we need to go into the game knowing that we’re the better team. We’re not going into the game thinking we’re second place,” Stanley said. “It’s pretty even all the way around, so I think it’s just going into that game with the confidence that we’re not the underdog.”

Wil Stanley signals to his teammates during BYU’s game against Pepperdine on Feb. 8. (Hannah Miner)

BYU has averaged 12.9 kills and three blocks per set this season and has a .351 hitting percentage. Hawaii has averaged 13.84 kills and 2.89 blocks per set and leads the country with a .386 hitting percentage.

“They’re big, they’re physical — very similar to us in a lot of ways,” coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We’re just focusing on us becoming the best we can be.”

Both teams have played a number of ranked teams during the season thus far. The Cougars have topped 11 ranked teams and Hawaii has bested six teams ranked in the top 15. Zach Eschenberg said Hawaii is a great team and that their matchup will be a showdown.

Davide Gardini, Felipe de Brito Ferreira and Gabi Garcia Fernandez go for a block against Pepperdine on Feb. 8. (Hannah Miner)

The matches will take place in the Stan Sheriff Center, Hawaii’s basketball arena, which is predicted to sell out. The arena is where coach Olmstead played his last competitive volleyball game.

“I’d do anything to go play again in that gym,” coach Olmstead said. “What a once in a lifetime opportunity for these young men. I’m so excited for them, and I’m just honored that I get to be a part of it. My playing days are over, but what a great environment, what an electric crowd.”

The BYU vs Hawaii matches will take place at 7 p.m. HST (10 p.m. MST) on both Thursday, March 5, and Friday, March 6.

“We think we’re the best team in the country, so we’re gonna play like that,” Gabi Garcia Fernandez said.

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