(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – After finishing 2014 in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, BYU men’s volleyball seeks to build on that success in 2015.
The team collected a 21-9 overall and 18-6 MPSF record last season, winning a share of the MPSF regular-season title and the MPSF tournament crown.
BYU was selected No. 6 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls.
Head coach Chris McGown will coach his 100th match for the Cougars Jan. 31 against UC San Diego. McGown will be helped by Rob Neilson, who was promoted to associate head coach during the offseason.
Thirteen players who saw action in 2014 return for BYU, including five starters. The Cougars lost starters Taylor Sander and Devin Young to graduation, but will replace them with a talented freshman class.
An Off the Block Outside Attacker of the Year candidate, senior Josue Rivera will lead the outside hitters this season. In 2014 he had the second-highest number of kills on the team with 217 (2.13 per set). Rivera is joined by fellow senior Phil Fuchs, who had 52 kills (1.79 per set). A rookie last year, Kiril Meretev helped out in 15 sets with 24 kills (1.60 per set).
New to this year’s lineup are freshman Brenden Sander, younger brother to Taylor Sander, and Orange Coast College junior transfer Tyler Hutchins.
BYU returns three opposites, all of whom started over the course of the season. Sophomore Tim Dobbert started on the right side to finish the season, totaling 115 kills (1.45 per set) and 44 blocks. Juniors Matt Underwood and Carson Heninger tallied 101 kills (2.46 per set) and 74 kills (2.24 per set), respectively.
BYU’s blockers are led by one of the top blockers in the nation. Michael Hatch finished 2014 ranked No. 3 nationally with 1.44 blocks per set. He also led the team in hitting percentage at .412.
Sophomores Joseph Grosh and Jake Langlois both saw action in 2014. Redshirt freshman Price Jarman and true freshman Christian Rupert round out the middle blocker position.
Junior setter Tyler Heap returns from an ankle injury suffered late in the 2014 regular-season. Heap had 965 assists (10.60 per set) and 53 blocks.
Robbie Sutton led the Cougar offense through the MPSF and NCAA tournaments after Heap’s injury, collecting 260 assists (7.88 per set).
BYU adds two setters to the squad this year – Leo Durkin, a redshirt freshman returned missionary, and true freshman Chandler Gibb.
The Cougars kick off the season against No. 2 Loyola-Chicago Friday and No. 9 Lewis Saturday. The matches will be held at Stanford’s gym, both at 5 p.m. PST.
For more information on BYU’s 2015 schedule, read the official release.