Six Cougars honored by MPSF, including Player of the Year

(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – Six members of the No. 1 BYU men’s volleyball team received All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honors, including Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, as announced by the league Thursday.

Junior outside hitter Taylor Sander was named the MPSF Player of the Year and freshman opposite Ben Patch was named MPSF Freshman of the Year.

Senior middle blocker Russ Lavaja joins Sander and Patch on the All-MPSF First Team. Senior setter Ryan Boyce earned All-MPSF Second Team and sophomore outside hitter Josue Rivera received All-MPSF Honorable Mention. Along with Patch, freshman middle blocker Michael Hatch was named to the All-MPSF Freshman Team.

Sander averaged 3.98 kills with a .344 clip in MPSF matches, along with 4.75 points per set, helping the top-ranked Cougars become the quickest team ever to clinch the conference tournament’s No. 1 seed March 30. The two-time All-American posted double-figure kills in 24 of 26 overall BYU matches in the regular season.

Sander broke the BYU all-time service aces record in less than three years and is putting even more distance in his new record with 122 career aces. In 2013, Sander produced the top-two MPSF single-match hitting performances of at least 20 swings, hitting .762 (17-1-21) against USC on March 30 and .750 (16-1-20) against Cal Baptist on March 8.

Sander also joins UC Irvine’s Carson Clark as the only MPSF volleyball players to be named to the first team in each of their first three years of collegiate competition.

Patch, a native of Provo, Utah, ranked 12th in the MPSF for the 24 conference matches in both kills (3.49 per set) and points per set (4.07), each a high for all first year players. His overall kill average, also 3.49, ranks 18th in the nation and is the second best amongst all freshmen across the country.

Patch was a two-time MPSF Conference and AVCA National Player of the Week this year, getting back-to-back honors on Feb. 25 and March 4. He was the first player to ever receive the AVCA honor in consecutive weeks.

In a comeback road win at No. 1 UC Irvine on March 1, Patch slammed a BYU rally-scoring record 35 kills, hitting .385, along with eight digs and five blocks. To date, the 35-kill performance ties for fourth in MPSF rally-scoring history, and the most the conference has seen for a single match in nearly three full seasons (since Jan. 21, 2011). On Jan. 12, Patch hit an errorless .800 (12-0-15) against Lewis, tied for the third-best individual clip in the MPSF this year, and top-five in BYU rally-scoring history.

Patch is the fourth MPSF Freshman of the Year from BYU (Taylor Sander, 2011; Yamil Perez, 2007; Ryan Millar, 1996). He is also the fifth freshman in the rally-scoring era to be named first-team all-conference (Taylor Sander-BYU, 2011; Carson Clark-UCI, 2009; Brent Asuka-UCI, 2006; Tony Ker-UCLA, 2005).

Lavaja leads the team in hitting percentage with a .456 clip and total blocks with 95. He is No. 2 in the BYU rally-scoring era in total blocks with 566. In the final regular season match, Lavaja passed Futi Tavana for third in most career games played (407) and is just seven games away from tying for No. 1.

Boyce, BYU’s offensive maestro, has racked up 991 assists on the season to help lift the Cougars to the No. 1 hitting percentage in the MPSF (.326). Boyce was named the AVCA and MPSF Player of the Week March 25.

Rivera has been a consistent force for BYU with 183 kills, 16 aces, 105 digs and 70 blocks. Hatch leads the MPSF in blocks per set with 1.43. He has tallied 87 blocks on the year, the second best on the team. 

The Cougars begin postseason action in the MPSF Quarterfinals Saturday against No. 8 seed Hawai’i at 7 p.m. MDT in the Smith Fieldhouse.

 

MPSF Player of the Year - Taylor Sander - BYU

MPSF Freshman of the Year - Ben Patch - BYU

ALL-MSPF First Team
Name Year School
Taylor Sander Junior BYU
Kevin Tillie Senior UC Irvine
Taylor Crabb Junior Long Beach State
Levi Cabral Senior Cal Baptist
Gonzalo Quiroga Junior UCLA
Maurice Torres Senior Pepperdine
Ben Patch Freshman BYU
Dylan Davis Senior UC Santa Barbara
Russ Lavaja Senior BYU
Matt West Sophomore Pepperdine
Brian Cook Junior Stanford
Michael Brinkley Sophomore UC Irvine
All-MSPF Second Team
Name Year School
Steven Irvine Junior Stanford
Collin Mehring Junior UC Irvine
Micah Christenson Sophomore USC
Connor Olbright Junior Long Beach State
Spencer Rowe Junior UCLA
Josh Taylor Sophomore Pepperdine
Scott Kevorken Junior UC Irvine
Aaron McCalmont Senior Cal Baptist
Ryan Boyce Senior BYU
John Baker Senior CS Northridge
Guilherme Koepp Senior Cal Baptist
Dane Worley Junior UCLA
All-MPSF Honorable Mention
Name Year School
Dalton Ammerman Junior Long Beach State
Javier Caceres Junior Pacific
Josue Rivera Sophomore BYU
James Shaw Freshman Stanford
Evan Mottram Junior UCLA
Jonah Seif Freshman UC Santa Barbara
Robart Page Junior UCLA
Parker Kalmbach R-Sophomore Pepperdine
Taylor Averill Sophomore Hawai'i
Colten Echave Senior Long Bach State
Sinisa Zarkovic Freshman Hawai'i
Taylor Gregory R-Freshman Long Beach State
Drew Staker Senior CS Northridge
Brook Sedore Sophomore Hawai'i
All-MPSF Freshman Team
Name Year School
Ben Patch Freshman BYU
James Shaw Freshman Stanford
Jonah Seif Freshman UC Santa Barbara
Sinisa Zarkovic Freshman  Hawai'i
Taylor Gregory R-Freshman Long Beach State
Andrew Sato Freshman Long Beach State
Michael Hatch Freshman  BYU