COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the second year in a row, BYU men's volleyball coach Shawn Olmstead took to the podium immensely disappointed following another loss in an NCAA championship match. But although it may have been difficult to discuss it at the time, he made sure to praise his players and how they've worked and conducted themselves throughout the season.
“They represented everybody well and they did well,” Olmstead said. “It’s going to sting, darn it but it’s an amazing to be here again in the finals of the NCAA tournament.”
Getting to an NCAA championship is no small feat, with Ohio State coach Pete Hanson making sure to recognize that fact, as he began his opening statement to the press after the win.
“The first thing we need to talk about is the program of BYU and what a wonderful program they are,” Hanson said. “It takes a lot of work to get to this point of the tournament and clearly they know how to work at it and they have some marvelous players. We beat a very, very good volleyball team and my hat goes off to (them.)”
While the return of almost everyone from last year's team makes a run to consecutive NCAA championship matches seemingly expected, there's usually more to the story. With BYU's 2017 team, the run to consecutive NCAA championship matches was fraught with many difficulties.
“This has been a long one, for sure — for me and for our group,” Olmstead said. “Guys know that I love them, and that I care about them, and hat’s off to them for what’s been a bumpy ride in terms of aches and pains and some things that you guys don’t even know about.”
The things most do know about involve injuries — primarily those to All-Americans Brenden Sander and Ben Patch, which affected their play throughout much of the season, although both proved healthy toward the end of the year.
Those healthy players were made to watch Ohio State again be presented with the national championship trophies after the heartbreak, but made certain to conduct themselves with respect, according to Olmstead.
“How we handle these losses is going to show a lot about us and these young men,” Olmstead said. “I think they did show (well) in the loss. They stood out there and shook their hand and acknowledged the champions tonight.”
HOME FLOOR AN ADVANTAGE: It was widely discussed how much of an advantage it would be for Ohio State to play a national championship match at home. Turns out it was a big advantage to the Buckeye players and coaches, who were certain to thank each and every fan in postgame.15 comments on this story
“Buckeye nation was off the charts tonight,” said Ohio State coach Pete Hanson. “Eight thousand people here to see these guys play volleyball has never happened in this community before.”
For Olmstead, he didn't address any type of advantage it may have provided to the Buckeyes, but was sure to express his feelings of it being good for the game.
“It’s great volleyball. I love it,” Olmstead said. “We’d rather play in a packed arena and making it an exciting venue and an exciting championship. I think that’s good for volleyball, and they did a great job.”