PROVO — The No. 3-ranked BYU men's volleyball team plays a rare Tuesday match against Princeton on Tuesday, just as the regular season and MPSF conference play are coming to a close.
The Tigers (9-8, 6-3 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) are the last non-conference opponent on the schedule for BYU (19-2, 13-1 MPSF) before it turns attention back to MPSF play in hopes of securing a conference regular season championship.
Right after facing off against Princeton, No. 1-ranked Long Beach State comes to Provo for consecutive matches Friday and Saturday in what will likely determine who hosts the MPSF tournament. The 49ers have a 14-1 MPSF record and will finish out conference play with a home match against CSUN two weeks after Saturday's match while the Cougars will close out MPSF play with two road matches versus UC Santa Barbara, following the two matches against the 49ers.
The winner of the MPSF tournament automatically qualifies for the six-team NCAA championship, which typically sees at least one other MPSF team receive an at-large bid. Last year saw BYU, Long Beach State and UCLA all qualify for the NCAA six-team tournament, where the Cougars defeated LBSU in the semifinal round before losing to Ohio State in the championship match.
But first things first, and the Cougars will look to maintain the momentum gained after beating No. 4 Hawaii in straight sets on consecutive nights when taking on Princeton. The match will get underway at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and will be televised live on BYUtv.
BLOCK PARTY: Cougar outside hitter Jake Langlois was all smiles after defeating Hawaii in straight sets on Friday, and likely grinning even wider after Saturday's match. Sure, Langlois put up big stats from his pin-hitting position both nights, but was also heavily involved with a block that finished off Friday's match and continued in force on Saturday.
The Cougars out-blocked the Rainbow Warriors 12-4 on Friday and then 14-5.5 on Saturday, with the blocks coming from a variety of spots, as BYU coach Shawn Olmstead has put a late emphasis on getting his outside and opposite hitters more involved. That includes the 6-foot-10 Langlois, who had just two blocks on Friday but then six on Saturday.
"Last year we were a monster blocking team and tonight we finally saw a little of (that)," Langlois said after Friday's match. "I think we were being disciplined in getting straight over, and you're seeing a lot more blocks."