No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball swept by No. 1 Hawaii in national championship
The No. 2 BYU men’s volleyball team lost the NCAA national championship game to No. 1 Hawaii in straight sets on Saturday night at the Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio.
“Any opportunities I had going out after my season last year, I wouldn’t trade any of that for what we got this year with the guys and just the memories and that brotherhood we built,” setter Wil Stanley said after the loss.
Hawaii was dominant in all areas of the game. The Rainbow Warriors hit a .400 clip on attacks, nearly .200 higher than BYU’s .207, and served 10 aces to BYU’s two.
“I really think they out-played us. They served well, they passed well. I mean they got balls up all over the court. Hats off to those guys,” Stanley said.
AVCA Player of the Year Rado Parapunov led the Rainbow Warriors offensively with 13 kills on a .357 clip to go along with two aces.
The Cougars were unable to get going offensively as they were “tentative” on the offensive-side of the net, according to BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead.
“Our tentative passing led to being tentative at the net in a handful of situations,” Olmstead said. “I was a little surprised that we became so tentative in serve reception.”
MPSF Player of the Year Gabi Garcia Fernandez stood out on the offensive end, as he usually does for the Cougars, with 12 kills. Stanley provided 29 assists for BYU.
Stanley and Garcia Fernandez were named to the All-Tournament team, along with three Hawaii players and two from UC Santa Barbara.
Saturday night’s loss marks the third national championship loss for BYU under Olmstead, in which they have not won a set.
The Cougars found themselves in a hole early at 8-5 as Hawaii’s offense came out red hot with five kills and an ace.
The Cougars clawed back to tie the score at 17 after Teilon-Jonathan Tufuga’s ace.
BYU regained the lead at 19-18 after an attacking error by Hawaii after a Garcia Fernandez serve. Hawaii’s head coach Charlie Wade took a timeout after the point in an effort to ice Garcia Fernandez.
Wade’s plan worked as Hawaii scored the next five points to grab a sizeable 23-19 lead. The Rainbow Warriors would go on to win set one 25-20.
After being down 2-0, Zach Eschenberg rallied three straight kills to give BYU a 3-2 lead in set two.
From there, nothing seemed to go right for BYU. Hawaii built a 15-8 lead as the Rainbow Warriors could do no wrong.
The Cougars fought to even up the score, bringing the deficit to four at one point, but Hawaii’s lead was too big to overcome and the Rainbow Warriors won set two 25-19.
BYU was unable to climb the steep mountain in a comeback effort, losing set three 25-16.
The loss caps off a 20-4 season for the MPSF Champions and national runner-ups BYU.
“I’m proud of our guys and I’m super, super lucky to be a part of their group and their run,” Olmstead said.