BYU men’s volleyball star Gabi Garcia Fernandez, shown here in a 2020 match, was named MPSF Player of the Year on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Garcia Fernandez and the No. 2-ranked Cougars are hosting the MPSF conference tournament April 22-24, 2021, at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo. | Jaren Wilkey, BYU

Top-seeded BYU is hosting the MPSF tournament, which begins Thursday with quarterfinal matches at Smith Fieldhouse; Cougars drew a first-round bye and will play in Friday’s semifinals.

For BYU men’s volleyball coach Shawn Olmstead, the heavy lifting has already been done.

After last year’s MPSF conference tournament and NCAA Men’s Volleyball Tournament were canceled due to the pandemic with the Cougars the presumptive favorite to win both titles, the sixth-year coach had to keep the band together, so to speak.

He succeeded.

Every major contributor from that 2020 squad that was ranked No. 2 by the AVCA and coming off a 1-1 split at No. 1 Hawaii returned in 2021, and the Cougars are again eyeing a lengthy postseason run.

“We haven’t talked as if it is national championship or bust, because I feel that may be dangerous. I could see how that could be a thing from the outside. But we are not vocalizing it in our locker room. We are just trying to focus on the next game and do our best.” — BYU middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen

“That’s definitely the goal,” said graduate senior Miki Jauhiainen. “We haven’t talked as if it is national championship or bust, because I feel that may be dangerous. I could see how that could be a thing from the outside. But we are not vocalizing it in our locker room. We are just trying to focus on the next game and do our best.”

That next game comes Friday night, as the No. 2-ranked and host Cougars (17-3) play in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation semifinal game at 7 p.m. at Smith Fieldhouse. BYU earned the No. 1 seed by winning the MPSF regular-season title, going 9-1 at home and 8-2 on the road.

Quarterfinals began Thursday with these matchups: UCLA vs. Concordia (2 p.m.); USC vs. Grand Canyon (5 p.m.); Stanford vs. Pepperdine (8 p.m.).

The tournament will be reseeded after Thursday’s action, so the Cougars could see either Grand Canyon, USC, Concordia or Stanford, whichever team is the lowest remaining seed.

Friday’s other semifinal begins at 4 p.m. in Provo. …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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Shawn Olmstead kept the band together, and now No. 2 Cougars have sights set on fourth national title

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