PROVO — Top seeds aren't supposed to lose in the first round of a conference tournament, especially when they have national championship aspirations. Fortunately for the BYU men's volleyball team, an upset was avoided after the Cougars fell behind, 2-1, Saturday night against Hawaii in the MPSF quarterfinals.
There are a lot of emotions a team can feel after a close call, but don't expect relief to be one of them for BYU senior setter Ryan Boyce.
"I don't think we felt relieved," said Boyce, whose team rallied for a 3-2 win over Hawaii. "When you feel relieved you don't take any credit and I feel like we played well and we deserved to win even though we didn't play as well as we should have. So hats off to Hawaii. They just played an unbelievable match."
As the top-ranked team in the nation, the Cougars expect every team to be gunning for them. Hawaii was no exception and the Warriors came out firing — just as BYU saw coming.
"We knew they were going to serve hard and come at us to try and get us out of system," Boyce said. "When we are in system we are really tough to beat but when you get us out of that, then we have to start to take some swings and teams can defend. This isn't YMCA ball. Every team can dig a ball or block a ball, so I thought our passers did a phenomenal job."
Boyce had a tough call go against him in the third set that put Hawaii up 24-22 and the Warriors converted the next play to take the set. It was an identical call to the one that would prove to be the BYU game winner in the fifth.
"You just gotta stay aggressive," Boyce said. "If you see the ball coming over the net, you can't be scared and you can't chicken out because of a call. You've just gotta play volleyball with good principles, and I've been playing so long I don't think I actually thought (on the last play). I just reacted."
Despite the win, Boyce and the Cougars expect more and will look to improve if they hope to advance to the MPSF championship game.
"(The fifth set) was loud, just loud," Boyce said. "I thought we played well, serving the ball in court. I just gotta do a better job running an offense. I put a lot of pressure on myself this next week to get better so we can start excelling."