We’re trying to get on to the same page to make sure he’s at 100 percent. It’s a process we need to work through to get him healthy. —BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead
PROVO — No Ben Patch? Not necessarily a problem for the Cougars.
The No. 3-ranked BYU men's volleyball team (10-2, 5-1 MPSF) will be without its top pin-hitter again when taking on visiting UC San Diego (5-7, 2-6 MPSF) on both Friday and Saturday nights at the Smith Fieldhouse. Friday's match will begin at 7 p.m. while Saturday's match takes place at 6.
This will be the second weekend in a row where the Cougars will have to make do without Patch, who sat last weekend when taking on USC, due to a nagging groin injury. Despite his absence, BYU was able to handle the Trojans without much difficulty in taking the match in straight sets.
Leading the scoring for the Cougars in last week's match was regular rotation player Jake Langlois, who logged a match-high 12 kills. Just one kill behind Langlois was Patch's replacement, Tim Dobbert, who notched an impressive .500 hitting percentage to go with his 11 kills.
"it's very nice to have Tim," said BYU coach Shawn Olmstead. "Tim's a starter at that position on many of the teams in our conference. He's an outstanding player."
Dobbert is a 6-foot-10 opposite hitter from Germany, who has largely responded when called upon, over his three years playing for the Cougars. Due to BYU's depth at the position, however, his playing time has been sparse and inconsistent.
"We’ve just had a stable of big-time (opposites) at this program for many years, so it’s a competitive spot,” Olmstead said. “So Tim’s done a great job of staying in touch, waiting for his opportunity and then maximizing it.”
As for Patch, he’s certainly one of the most capable opposites to ever pass through the program, with the program typically anxious for him to get over his groin issues and get back into the lineup.
“We’re trying to get on to the same page to make sure he’s at 100 percent,” Olmstead said. “It’s a process we need to work through to get him healthy.”
NOT LOOKING PAST: One could assume two easy victories for the Cougars, given the Tritons’ past play and underwhelming record this season, but Olmstead certainly isn’t.
“It’s not coach-speak. They’ve beaten teams and beat one of the teams we beat in four sets, they beat them in three, so that’s a very good team,” Olmstead said. “They’ve got some kids that aren’t as physical as our guys, but have good arms and good serves, and pretty good ball-control this year.”
ONE THAT COUNTS: Although BYU plays two matches against MPSF foe UC San Diego this weekend, just Friday’s match will actually count in the conference standings. It’s due to a new rule that dictates that four of the conference matches played this year, for each MPSF member, will be just one and done for the weekend, in lieu of the traditional back-to-back matches played each weekend.
Olmstead prefers playing two matches, regardless if both matches actually count toward conference play.
“They’re called ‘rested weekends,’ so they’re completely out of my control and it was a complete draw-of-the-hat,” Olmstead explained. “So you don’t have to play the second, and if both coaches don’t agree (to play it), then you don’t play that second night. I’d rather play two nights, but it’s not my choice.”
BYU has already gone through two of its rested weekends — last week against USC and with January’s matches against UC Irvine. The Cougars’ final rested weekend will be when they play Cal Baptist later in the year.