2023 MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship

BYU Rides Momentum Into 2023 MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship

BYU Rides Momentum Into 2023 MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship

Closing out the regular season on a winning streak, BYU heads to the 2023 MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship with confidence.

Apr 16, 2023 by Kyle Kensing
BYU Rides Momentum Into 2023 MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship

Few teams can match the momentum BYU has heading into the 2023 MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship

The Cougars closed the regular season with a sweep of MPSF Championship host Stanford, in the process winning their seventh and eighth consecutive matches. BYU now heads to the Bay Area as the second seed and streaking in a manner comparable only to league-leading UCLA

For the Cougars to ride this run all the way to a conference title, they'll need to bring some home cooking on the road. 

BYU's regular season-ending series with Stanford completed a 14-0 slate in Provo. And, in fact, each match of the Cougars' ongoing winning streak was a home victory. 

BYU last played away from home in early March, dropping the series in a sweep against Grand Canyon. The Cougars' last road came in February over Concordia, their 1st Round opponent at the MPSF Championship. 

Recreating some of that Smith Fieldhouse magic at Stanford's Maples Pavilion starts with veteran setter Heath Hughes. 

Hughes missed a three-game stretch midway through the season, but since March 24 has produced some of his best numbers of the campaign with 40-plus assists in 4-of-6 matches. In one of the two in which he didn't hit the 40-assist milestone, Hughes finished with 39. 

BYU's trio of Luke Benson, Kupono Browne and Miks Ramanis also figure to be pillars of the team's title pursuit. 

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Browne has been surging individually commensurate with the team getting on a run. The Stanford transfer put together his best stretch of the season with 11-plus kills, including a peak of 22 vs. USC, over four consecutive games from March 25 through April 14. 

"I found my footing with the team a little bit," Browne told KSL.com of his recent play, in particular the 22-kill showing vs. USC. "Heath gave me great passes, and our passers were giving Heath the ball to do that. We were in ideal situations."

The three of Benson, Browne and Ramanis lead the Cougars with 196, 175 and 292 kills. Each of the three also contribute at the net to complement Teon Taylor's team-best 123 blocks. 

Blocking could prove integral to BYU's title fortunes, as the Cougars have been among the nation's best teams in that category throughout the season. Only UCLA averages more per set than the Cougars' 2.54. 

Credit outstanding play at the net, too, for BYU sporting the MPSF's second-lowest opponent hitting percentage at .260. The Cougars closed the regular season particularly strong on the defensive end, holding each of Pepperdine, USC and Stanford to hitting percentage of less than .260 in 4-of-6  matches — including a sub-.200 yield in the finale vs. Stanford. 

Capitalizing on great defense in the serve game may be a pivotal plot point for BYU's championship chances. The Cougars average just over one service ace per set and have the fewest aces in MPSF play of any of the league's seven teams.