(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah – In 2017, BYU men’s volleyball ended its season with a trip to the national championship match of the NCAA tournament for the second-consecutive year after winning a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title.
In his second season leading the men’s volleyball team, head coach Shawn Olmstead guided the Cougars to a 26-5 overall record and a 16-2 league record.
BYU began the season ranked No. 3 in the AVCA Preseason Coaches’ Poll and was picked to finish first in the preseason conference poll. With the loss in the national championship match, the Cougars ended the season ranked No. 2 in the AVCA poll.
Olmstead maintained success with the 2017 squad despite multiple injuries by various starters throughout the entire year.
Senior outside hitter Jake Langlois led the team in kills (351 total and 3.69 per set) and aces (52 total and 0.55 per set). The 52 aces were second-most all-time in the BYU rally-scoring era.
When healthy, junior opposite Ben Patch averaged 4.27 kills per set (222 total) for the Cougars. Junior outside hitter Brenden Sander also collected 2.95 kills per set (254 total) despite health setbacks.
Rounding out the pin-hitters for BYU was junior opposite Tim Dobbert, collecting 2.18 kills per set (183 total).
Junior setter Leo Durkin paced the team with 10.38 assists per set (1,038 total), good for sixth-most in the nation.
Junior middle blocker Price Jarman had 138 kills (1.50 per set) on a team-high .464 clip to go with a team-best 0.98 blocks per set (90 total). At the other middle blocker position, senior Joseph Grosh added a team-high 89 block assists to maintain 0.93 blocks per set.
Junior libero Erik Sikes anchored the defense with a conference-best 2.47 digs per set (168 total).
Four players collected AVCA All-America honors in 2017, led by Langlois who received First Team honors. Durkin, Jarman and Sander all picked up Honorable Mention accolades.
Five Cougars earned All-MPSF honors this year, including Langlois who was added to the First Team. Jarman and Sander collected Second Team accolades and Durkin was named All-MPSF Honorable Mention.
On the academic side of the net, Durkin, Dobbert, Grosh, Jarman, Langlois and Sikes all collected MPSF All-Academic honors.
Both Langlois and Patch were named the MPSF Player of the Week during two separate weeks of the regular season. Both players were additionally named the AVCA Player of the Week following the conference honors. Patch was also named the FloVolleyball Player of the Week for his performance against then-league leading No. 2 UCLA.
BYU started out the season on the road in Illinois, beating Lewis before falling to Loyola-Chicago. The Cougars then won a trio of matches at home – two against McKendree and once against future MPSF opponent Concordia Irvine.
BYU began conference play on the road winning a pair at CSUN before falling at home to UC Irvine in five sets.
The Cougars then won their next 15-straight matches, including wins against then No. 2 UCLA and No. 4 Hawai’i.
The final win of the streak came against then-No. 1 Long Beach State in a five-set thriller at home. The 49ers won the next matchup the following night, however.
The team ended the regular season as MPSF co-champions with Long Beach State and were awarded the No. 2 seed in the league tournament.
BYU won the quarterfinal match of the tournament at home against Stanford before falling in the semifinals to Hawai’i.
The Cougars next received one of two at-large bids to the NCAA tournament as the No. 3 seed, hosted by Ohio State.
BYU played in a play-in match for the first time against Barton. It was the first time a Cougar squad had played against a Conference Carolinas foe.
After picking up the sweep against the Bulldogs, BYU faced No. 2 seed Long Beach State – winning in three sets to set up a national championship rematch against the Buckeyes of Ohio State.
The Cougars fell against the Buckeyes for the national title for a second-straight year.
BYU loses its three seniors as well as juniors Dobbert and Patch from the 2017 squad heading into next year.