PROVO, Utah – Following a rebuilding year in 2015, BYU men’s volleyball seeks to return to the NCAA tournament in 2016 with high expectations.
The team collected a 17-10, 14-8 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (5th) record last season, falling at USC in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.
This season, BYU was selected No. 1 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls.
Shawn Olmstead takes over as the seventh head coach of the Cougars with the offseason departure of Chris McGown. Olmstead was named the 2014 AVCA Division I National Coach of the Year after leading the BYU women’s volleyball team to the national title match.
Olmstead will be assisted this year by former Slovenia national coach Luka Slabe and recently graduated four-year starting libero Jaylen Reyes.
Fifteen players who saw action in 2015 return for the Cougars, including five starters. BYU lost three players who started at some point last season to graduation, but will replace them with a talented freshman class.
At outside hitter, the Cougars will be led by a pair of starters from last year – Jake Langlois and Brenden Sander. Langlois led the team in kills last season, with 246 (3.19 per set). Sander averaged 2.26 per set last year (163 total). Langlois made the All-MPSF Second Team in 2015 while Sander was added to the all-freshman squad. Both players played on national teams over the summer.
Additionally, Tyler Hutchins returns for his senior season along with junior Kiril Meretev and freshman Tanner Skabelund.
2013 AVCA Newcomer of the Year Ben Patch returns to the roster this season following a two-year absence for his LDS mission. In 2013, Patch averaged 3.60 kills (418 total) 1.09 digs and 0.87 blocks per set.
BYU also returns three right side hitters who all started at some point last season – Tim Dobbert, Matt Underwood and Carson Heninger.
Dobbert was granted a medical redshirt in the offseason and will be listed as a sophomore this year. Dobbert averaged 2.65 kills per set and 1.55 digs per set before his injury. Underwood finished the season averaging 2.86 kills per set and 1.01 digs per set. He was also named to the All-MPSF Second Team. Heninger averaged 2.29 kills per set and 1.43 digs per set in limited action last season.
The Cougars return three middle blockers who started at some point last year, led by senior Michael Hatch. Hatch led the team in blocks per set (1.30) and hitting percentage (.427). Price Jarman returns, having averaged 1.29 blocks per set and 1.55 kills per set as a freshman. Joseph Grosh is back as well, having averaged 1.10 blocks per set a year ago.
Joining the three experienced middle blockers is redshirt freshman Christian Rupert.
Senior setter Robbie Sutton returns to the lineup in 2016, having received the starting nod for the majority of the 2015 season. Sutton finished last season averaging 9.10 assists per set.
Leo Durkin returns to the ranks as a sophomore and newcomer Andrew Lincoln will also set for BYU.
With the graduation of four-year starter Jaylen Reyes, the libero position will be more open than it has in the past.
Senior Evan Chang and sophomore Erik Sikes will battle for the position, especially early on, with Sikes recovering from a late-2015 season injury.
The Cougars kick off the season at home by hosting the AVCA Showcase. BYU will first play No. 3 Loyola-Chicago on Jan. 8, followed by No. 14 George Mason on Jan. 9. No. 2 UC Irvine will also head to Provo to compete in the tournament against the Ramblers and the Patriots.
For more information on BYU’s 2016 schedule, read the official release and visit the schedule page.