(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah – Following a trip to the national championship match of the NCAA tournament in 2016 and an outright regular-season conference and tournament title, BYU men’s volleyball rides high with expectations in 2017.
The team collected an overall mark of 27-4, with a 19-3 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (1st) record last year, falling to Ohio State in the national championship match.
This season, BYU was selected as the No. 1 team in the preseason MPSF poll and No. 3 in the nation in the AVCA poll.
Shawn Olmstead returns as head coach for his second season with the team. He was named the MPSF Coach of the Year in 2016.
Ten players who saw action last year return for the Cougars, including five starters and the team’s libero. BYU lost just one starter last year in middle blocker Michael Hatch. The Cougars add eight newcomers to this year’s roster.
BYU returns both main starting outsides in 2017 – AVCA First-Team All-American Brenden Sander and AVCA Second-Team All-American Jake Langlois.
Sander averaged 3.19 kills per set in 2016 while contributing 1.05 digs and 0.74 blocks per set. Langlois averaged 2.99 kills, 1.39 digs and 0.94 blocks per set last season.
Other outside hitters looking to collect playing time include senior Kiril Meretev, who competed mainly as a serving specialist in 2016, redshirt freshman Tanner Skabelund and freshmen Zach Eschenberg and Storm Fa’agata.
Two very capable opposites who each started last season return for 2017. Juniors Ben Patch and Tim Dobbert headline the right side crew.
AVCA First-Team All-American Patch returns as the main starter from last year, having averaged a team-best 4.32 kills per set as well as 1.16 digs and 0.71 blocks per set.
Freshman Jacob Komenda is also listed as an opposite in 2017.
There will be some competition at the middle position early on with the graduation of Hatch. Junior Price Jarman will likely continue in his starting role, having averaged 1.31 blocks per set and a team-best .508 clip in 2016.
Senior Joseph Grosh seems most likely to assume the other starting role, being the only other middle blocker with starting experience.
Also competing for the spot, however, is sophomore Christian Rupert and freshmen Sam Cagle and Miki Jauhiainen.
AVCA All-America Honorable Mention Leo Durkin is back for his junior year having started as the setter all last season. He averaged 10.54 assists per set as well as 1.34 digs and 0.69 blocks per set last year.
Also competing for the position are redshirt freshman Andrew Lincoln and freshman Wil Stanley.
Junior Erik Sikes returns to the team as last year’s starting libero. He averaged a team-best 2.01 digs per set in 2016.
Set to vie for the position are newcomers sophomore Taylor Richards and freshman Mitchel Worthington.
The Cougars kick off the season on the road, traveling to No. 6 Lewis and No. 11 Loyola-Chicago before hosting McKendree and Concordia Irvine the following week.
For more information on BYU’s 2017 schedule, read the official release and visit the schedule page.