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BYU volleyball: Cougars set for the 2014 season

By Rachel Hawks

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 31 2013 3:45 p.m. MST

BYU's Taylor Sander celebrates a game point in the first set against Long Beach State. The BYU Men's Volleyball team defeats Long Beach State in the Quarterfinals of the MPSF Tournament.

Jaren Wilkey/BYU, Jaren Wilkey/BYU

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After a run to the 2013 NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship match, No. 3 BYU men’s volleyball returns to the court to build on last season’s success in 2014.

Chris McGown enters his third season at the helm of the Cougars, who were picked No. 3 nationally and tied for No. 1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in preseason polls. McGown collected 50 wins during his first two seasons with the Cougars. Last season, he was named AVCA National Coach of the Year and MPSF Coach of the Year.

Back for the Cougars is senior outside hitter Taylor Sander, who led the team in kills per set with 3.94 last season. He also led in digs with 1.52 per set. Sander received AVCA and Volleyball Magazine first-team All-America accolades, as well as MPSF Player of the Year and All-MPSF First Team.

Also back for BYU is Volleyball Magazine third-team All-American Josue Rivera. The junior outside hitter started 27 matches for the Cougars last season, averaging 2.19 kills and 1.18 digs per set.

Sophomore Matt Underwood, redshirt freshman Bennett Bird and true freshman Kiril Meretev round out the ranks of outside hitters for the Cougars. Underwood saw playing time in 2013.

Blockers Devin Young and Michael Hatch return to the front line. Senior Young contributed 1.27 kills and a block per set, while sophomore Hatch led the team with 1.40 blocks per set. Senior Nick Valencia could also help out at middle blocker. Joining the ranks of blockers are redshirt freshman Joseph Grosh and true freshmen Jake Langlois and Price Jarman.

Junior libero Jaylen Reyes is back at libero with sophomores Tyler Heap and Robbie Sutton at setter. Heap backed up graduate Ryan Boyce last season, averaging 4.14 assists per set. Sophomore libero Evan Chang is also back, and the Cougars have added Hamilton Day to the roster at setter.

With 2013 AVCA Freshman of the Year Ben Patch taking a break from volleyball for the next two seasons to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, junior Phil Fuchs, sophomore Carson Heninger and freshman Tim Dobbert will fill the opposite hitter role. Fuchs played in 25 sets last season and averaged 1.44 kills per set.

The Cougars kick off a tough regular-season schedule on the road against Loyola on Friday and Lewis on Saturday. They hold their home opener against Cal State Northridge on Jan. 10, and follow it with another home match against Long Beach State on Jan. 11.

BYU faces UC Irvine on the road Jan. 17, after going 2-1 against the Anteaters in 2013. The Cougars swept the regular-season series last season but fell to UC Irvine in the NCAA championship match.

The team is on the road for most of February, then has six home matches, including a streak of five straight at the Smith Fieldhouse, in March. The Cougars last four matches of the regular season are on the road at Hawai’i, UC Santa Barbara and UCLA.

For match times, locations, scores and broadcast options, please visit the men’s volleyball schedule page.

Rachel Hawks is the men's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.

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