COLUMBUS, Ohio — Most honest people would admit they have no idea what Barton is. Is it a university? If so, where is it located and does it field any athletic teams?
Well, turns out Barton is a university located in North Carolina and it does field a men's volleyball team that earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of winning the Conference of the Carolinas championship. It also turns out the Bulldogs are BYU's opponent Tuesday in the tourney's first round.
Although included in the NCAA Tournament field since 2014, the Conference of the Carolinas champion has been short on success during the last three years.
In 2014, Conference of the Carolinas champion Erskine was squashed by Stanford (25-14, 25-16, 25-16.) The conference fared a little better in 2015, although Pfeiffer also fell in straight sets, this time to Loyola Chicago (25-20, 33-31, 25-15). In 2016, Erskine dropped another straight-set decision to Long Beach State.
Despite the conference's historically weak performances in the NCAA Tournament, this year's Conference of the Carolinas champ isn't being overlooked by BYU coach Shawn Olmstead.
“They’ve done well,” Olmstead said following last Tuesday's practice in Provo. “They, of course, won their conference, you know, so we’re preparing all of our attention and energy on that match.”
The Cougars square off against the Bulldogs Tuesday at 4 p.m. MDT. The match will be played at Ohio State and will be streamed live on OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Olmstead's team will head into the tournament after having more time off than anticipated after the team's somewhat surprising straight-set loss to Hawaii in the semifinal round of the MPSF tournament. The Cougars have used the time well, according to their coach, although it has been a bit unusual.
“I still think there’s work for our group to do. I truly believe that,” Olmstead said. “You guys watched practice and the energy’s good and I think it’s good for these guys this is a little more time than we’re used to, but I think we’ll be good.”
As for the loss to Hawaii the last time out, players and coaches are in accord — believing the experience could prove beneficial in another attempt to win an NCAA championship.
“That was good for these guys,” Olmstead said. “It’s not like the world’s ending and the sky is falling — we wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case. We didn’t come back to practice screaming and shouting and throwing things We’re confident and they know who they are and most importantly, they know who they can beat.”
Most of BYU's current squad knows full well they can play with anyone. Given a largely veteran squad that came just one match away from winning an NCAA championship last year, Olmstead believes his players will be well-versed in navigating the unique atmosphere of an NCAA tournament.
“They’re going to understand that, and prepare for that, and then be familiar with all of it,” Olmstead said. “ There’s a desire to not leave like we left last year and I think that’s what they’re feeling. We’re looking forward to it.”
COUGAR ALL-AMERICANS: The AVCA All-American teams were announced on Monday with BYU placing four players on the honor role. Senior Jake Langlois led the honors by being named a first-team All-American with Leo Durkin, Brenden Sander and Price Jarman each receiving honorable mention recognition.