Following a second-consecutive trip to the national championship match of the NCAA tournament in 2017 and a second-straight conference title, BYU men’s volleyball rides high with expectations in 2018.

The team collected an overall mark of 26-5 with a 16-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (tied first) record last year, falling to Ohio State in the national championship match.

This season, BYU was selected as the No. 1 team in the preseason MPSF poll and No. 3 nationally in the AVCA poll.

Shawn Olmstead returns as head coach for his third year with the men’s squad.

Twelve players who saw action last year return for the Cougars, including three starters and the team’s libero. Additionally, BYU adds eight newcomers to this year’s roster.

Position breakdown

Outside hitter

BYU returns All-American Brenden Sander to the outside in 2018. Sander averaged 2.95 kills per set last season to go with 30 aces, 59 blocks and 90 digs.

The Cougars will have to replace All-American Jake Langlois, who graduated at the conclusion of last season.

Sophomore Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga looks to make an immediate impact at the position along with Tanner Skabelund and Zach Eschenberg, who all received playing time last year.

Newcomer Alex Ah Sue will also vie for a spot on the court along with Garrett Halsey, Andrew Lincoln and Charlie Siragusa, who are all listed as outside and opposite hitters. Cyrus Fa’alogo is also listed as an outside in addition to a setter.

Opposite hitter

BYU lost experienced right-side hitters Ben Patch and Tim Dobbert from last year’s squad. The team looks to fill the position with several underclassmen.

Gabi Garcia Fernandez is the only true opposite listed on the roster. However, Halsey, Lincoln and Siragusa play opposite in addition to outside.

Middle blocker

The Cougars bring back Price Jarman as a middle blocker in 2018. He led the team in blocks per set (0.98) a season ago and also contributed 1.50 kills per set at a team-best .464 hitting percentage.

With the graduation of Joseph Grosh, BYU looks to Miki Jauhiainen and Christian Rupert who received playing time last year. Newcomers Felipe de Brito Ferreira and Branden Oberender will also compete for playing time.

Setter

All-American setter Leo Durkin returns for his senior season this year. He averaged 10.38 assists per set and 1.24 digs per set last season.

Wil Stanley, who played mostly as a serving specialist last season, will also vie for time on the court along with Fa’alogo.

Libero/defensive specialist

Senior Erik Sikes returns in 2018 as a three-year starter. He averaged a team-best 2.47 digs per set a year ago.

Junior Taylor Richards and freshman Zach Hendrickson will also compete as liberos/defensive specialists.

The Cougars kick off the season at home this year, facing No. 13 Loyola-Chicago and No. 6 Lewis on Jan. 5-6.

For more information on BYU’s 2018 schedule, read the official release and visit the schedule page.

Royce Hinton is the men's and women's volleyball sports information director for BYU Athletic Communications.