FloVolleyball is excited to continue our NCAA Men's Countdown, ranking the top 10 collegiate men's volleyball teams in the country leading up to the start of the 2017 season.
The No. 2 spot goes to BYU this year, and here's why:
Three big-time pin hitters--Ben Patch, Brenden Sander and Jake Langlois--are back as BYU looks to the memory of a legendary coach for championship inspiration.
27-4 overall, 19-3 in MPSF (conference champion)
1-1 in NCAA Tournament (NCAA runner-up; lost 3-0 vs Ohio St)
Final 2016 RPI: 2
Team Hitting Percentage: .360 (#1 in NCAA)
Team Blocks Per Set: 3.13 (#1)
RETURNING STARSBen Patch | 6-foot-9 | Junior | Opposite
4.32 kills/set (#5 in NCAA); .379 (#15); 0.71 blocks/set
Brendan Sander | 6-4 | Junior | Outside Hitter
3.19 kills/set; .395 (#10 in NCAA); 0.30 aces/set
Jake Langlois | 6-10 | Senior | Outside Hitter
2.99 kills/set; .311 (#31 in NCAA); 0.94 blocks/set; 0.35 aces/set (#21)
Price Jarmon | 6-9 | Junior | Middle Blocker
1.42 kills/set; .508; 1.31 blocks/set (#4 in NCAA)
Leo Durkin | 6-4 Junior Setter Leo Durkin
10.54 assists/set (#8 in NCAA)
Erik Sikes | 6-2 | Junior | Libero
2.01 digs/set (#33 in NCAA)
Photo by BYU Athletics.
PROMISING NEWCOMERSTaylor Richards | 6-2 | Sophomore | Libero
Andrew Lincoln | 6-7 | Redshirt Freshman | Setter
Tanner Skabelund | 6-11 | Redshirt Freshman | Outside Hitter
Sam Cagle | 6-6 | Freshman | Middle Blocker
Zach Eschenberg | 6-6 | Freshman | Outside Hitter
Storm Fa'agata | 6-3 | Freshman | Outside Hitter
Miki Jauhiainen | 6-7 | Freshman | Middle Blocker
Jacob Komenda | 6-8 | Freshman | Opposite
Wil Stanley | 6-4 | Freshman | Setter
BIGGEST LOSSESMichael Hatch | 6-8 | Middle Blocker
0.72 kills/set; .412; 1.39 blocks/set (#3 in NCAA)
Non-Conference Matches to Watch
January 6 at Lewis
January 7 at Loyola-Chicago
BYU heads to the Midwest to kick off its 2017 season with heavy hearts: Legendary coach Carl McGown passed away December 30 at age 79. McGown was the Cougars' head coach from 1989 to 2002 but has been a constant presence in the BYU gym ever since. The Cougars won NCAA titles in 1999 and 2001 under McGown--and in 2004 under Tom Peterson--but lost the title match last season to Ohio State. BYU ranked No. 1 in both NCAA team hitting percentage and blocks per set, and all but one starter--middle blocker Michael Hatch--returns. Senior Joseph Grosh may have the inside track at MB2, but sophomore Christian Rupert could also be in the mix. A trio of imposing All-American pins, led by Ben Patch on the right side and Brenden Sander and Jake Langlois on the left, will combine with junior Leo Durkin at setter, where he excelled at dishing both assists and blocks in 2016. Junior Erik Sikes will once again be the Cougars' libero.
[instagram url="https://www.instagram.com/p/BOs9lDvj0vp/?taken-by=byuvolleyball" hide_caption="0"]
Coach Shawn Olmstead brought his BYU women's team to the championship match in 2014 and his Cougars men's team to the championship match the following season. Motivated by the memory of McGown, this could be the year Olmstead lifts the trophy.
FloVolleyball NCAA Men's Volleyball Countdown
8. UC Irvine
4. Long Beach State
1. Check back tomorrow to find out who is the No. 1 team in our preseason rankings!
MUST SEE FloFilms of 2016
The Program: Penn State
Watch Episode One here.
All In: USA Women's National Volleyball Team
Watch Episode One here.