I've worked really hard to get to this point, and I'm just so thankful that I'm here and able to play with so many great players and for such a great program. —BYU outside hitter Cyrus Fa'alogo
PROVO — It took a while for Cyrus Fa'alogo to get to where he is, but now that he's there, he's working hard to make the most of it.
One of the rare local products on this year's BYU men's volleyball team, Fa'alogo has steadily progressed throughout the 2018 season before serving strong notice of his capabilities during the Cougars' MPSF semifinal win over USC. From the start of that match, the sophomore led the way in the kills department, taking needed pressure off senior Brenden Sander and star freshman Gabi Garcia Fernandez.
He's now looking forward to playing a big role in helping the Cougars win a national championship, something that is always expected of the program but has been elusive since 2004, the year they last won it all.
However, getting to where Fa'alogo is didn't come without a lot of hard work and a few detours.
Upon graduating from Copper Hills High in 2012, the 6-foot-4 athlete was granted a spot on BYU's volleyball team before embarking on a two-year LDS Church mission to St. Louis. Upon returning home, Fa'alogo's spot on the team wasn't there, which didn't seem like a big deal to him at the time.
"Things change on your mission and volleyball just wasn't a priority for me anymore. I didn't even want to play anymore," Fa'alogo said. "But money was an issue and my parents couldn't afford to send me to college, so we decided it would be the best option to use volleyball to get an education."
Fa'alogo enrolled at Long Beach City College after his mission and played one year under former BYU player Jonathan Charette. It didn't take long for him to catch the notice of BYU coach Shawn Olmstead, who worked to get him back to Provo after receiving a recommendation from Charette.
"He reached out to us after his first semester and told us, 'Hey, you've got to recruit this kid,'" Olmstead said. "We had a couple of opportunities to go out there and see him play, and so from there we were able to convince him to leave after one year and come and play here."
Fa'alogo entered the season without any expectations from just about anyone. His name wasn't brought up before the season as a potential contributor, but he started to emerge around midseason.
"Every day in practice, just seeing more and more of him it became apparent we needed to give him an opportunity," Olmstead said. "And he's done a great job with that opportunity and has really helped us."
Fa'alogo plays primarily at outside hitter, although he's shown an ability to contribute just about anywhere due to his upbringing. Since an early age, he spent a lot of time playing in LDS Church gyms and with his family, which he terms, "A total volleyball family."
Around the age of 12 it became clear he could have a future in volleyball, and he started playing consistently with adults who were almost twice his height.
"I really was just about half as tall as I am now, but I could play with them," Fa'alogo said. "Of course I wasn't jumping over the net like I am now, but yeah, I could play with them."
Like most local volleyball players, especially those who are members of the LDS Church, Fa'alogo grew up dreaming of playing for BYU and had the opportunity to attend several matches. Now that he's finally getting the opportunity to realize that dream, he's making the most of it.
"It's just really humbling and rewarding to be able to help the team in any way," Fa'alogo said. "I've worked really hard to get to this point, and I'm just so thankful that I'm here and able to play with so many great players and for such a great program."
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