Braden Taylor | Posted: 20 Dec 2019 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

2020 Season Preview

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BYU volleyball player Gabi Garcia Fernandez celebrating a kill against USC

PROVO, Utah – After leading BYU men’s volleyball to its 23rd-straight winning season, Shawn Olmstead enters his fifth year as the head coach of the Cougars with one of his most experienced rosters yet.

The 2020 roster features 16 returnees, including two All-America honorees, and three incoming freshmen. BYU enters the upcoming season ranked No. 3 nationally in the AVCA preseason poll and is tabbed to win the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title for the fourth time in five years.

With an overall winning percentage of .759 (88-28), Olmstead currently holds the highest winning percentage of any active NCAA DI-II head coach. Olmstead coached the Cougars to back-to-back NCAA Championship matches in 2016 and 2017.

Below is a look at this year’s team by position.

Opposite Hitter
Two-time AVCA All-American Gabi Garcia Fernandez returns for his junior season after leading the team with 390 kills, 136 digs and 32 aces while also contributing 67 total blocks. The 2019 first-team All-MPSF honoree is joined again by Alex Ah Sue as the only two players on the roster listed solely at opposite hitter.

Outside Hitter
Davide Gardini garnered AVCA All-America honorable mention recognition and was named MPSF Freshman of the Year after posting 319 kills, 125 digs, 64 total blocks and 28 aces in 2019.  Andrew Lincoln also saw significant playing time last season for BYU, totaling 64 kills and 10 aces.

Zach Eschenberg and Kana’i Akana both return after seeing limited action last season while Cyrus Fa’alogo transitions back to outside hitter after moving to setter in 2019 due to injuries at the position. Fa’alogo contributed 197 assists and 67 digs after only competing in fewer than 10 matches at setter before battling an injury of his own.

Teilon-Jonathan Fa’agata joins the Cougars at the outside hitter position. The freshman is the brother of former outside hitter Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga who retired this past offseason ahead of his senior year due to medical reasons.

Middle Blocker
All-MPSF honorable mention honoree Felipe de Brito Ferreira and Miki Jauhiainen return to anchor the middle blocker position for BYU. De Brito Ferreira led the team with 10 solo blocks and posted 93 total blocks while also recording the third-most kills on the team with 128. Jauhiainen edged out de Brito Ferreira by one block to lead the Cougars with 94 total blocks.

Joining de Brito Ferreira and Jauhiainen again this season are Branden Oberender and Max Pothier. Oberender saw limited action in 2019 and Pothier utilized his redshirt year. Freshman Gavin Julien is the lone newcomer to the position group. The two-time member of the U.S. Boys Youth National Team training squad will bolster the depth at middle blocker.

After suffering through an injury-plagued 2019 season at setter, the Cougars enter the 2020 season with plenty of experience at the position. Wil Stanley started at setter last season and totaled 438 assists before suffering a season-ending injury 13 matches into the season. Fa’alogo filled in temporarily before suffering an injury of his own and was replaced by 2019 All-MPSF Freshman Team honoree Brody Earnest. The transfer from Utah Valley recorded 312 assists while starting the last 10 matches of the 2019 season. With Fa’alogo switching back to outside hitter, Stanley and Earnest will be joined by freshman Gavin Heap.

Taylor Richards was the only player to graduate from BYU’s 2019 roster and is the only notable hole Olmstead has had to fill ahead of the upcoming season. Richards played in 18 matches last year at libero while recording 71 digs and 31 assists. Often splitting time with Richards at libero, Zach Hendrickson recorded 82 digs and 26 assists in 17 matches.

Competing with Hendrickson for playing time will be Mitchel Worthington and Jon Stanley. Worthington played for BYU in 2017 and returned from serving a two-year church mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this past offseason. Stanley is coming off a redshirt season and also plays some outside hitter for the Cougars.

No. 3 BYU will open the 2020 season on the road against No. 11 Loyola-Chicago on Friday, Jan. 3, and No. 6 Lewis on Saturday, Jan. 4. The Cougars will then host Penn State in the Smith Fieldhouse on back-to-back nights in their first home matches of the season on Jan. 10-11. Other nonconference opponents include Hawaii, Mount Olive, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. The full 2020 schedule can be found on the men’s volleyball page on