BYU Men’s Volleyball will take on Ohio State for a fourth straight season when the two teams meet on Thursday. Twice it was for the national title.
BYU Men’s Volleyball starts their season on Thursday against a team that’s rapidly becoming one of their biggest rivals.
The No. 5 Cougars will host No. 7 Ohio State, in a match that will set the season’s tone for both teams.
The Cougars and Buckeyes faced off twice in a row in the National Championship game (2016 and 2017), with Ohio State winning both in dominating fashion.
And while it wasn’t for the title, BYU got revenge last season by travelling to Ohio and taking down the Buckeyes in straight sets.
The two powerhouse programs are consistently among the best teams in the country, and both qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2018. BYU earned a first-round bye before falling to UCLA in the semifinals, while Ohio State beat UC Irvine in the first round before losing in the semis to Long Beach State.
BYU is hoping to reload rather than rebuild in 2019, having lost a good deal of their firepower from last season. Brendan Sander, Price Jarman, Leo Durkin, and Christian Rupert all graduated.
But the Cougars’ bring back a heavy-hitting duo Gabi Garcia Fernandez and Storm Fa’agata-Tufuga, and Felipe de Brito Ferreira let the team in hitting percentage from the middle.
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Junior setter Will Stanley will likely be the primary replacement for Leo Durkin this season, and Taylor Richards, the only Cougar senior, will anchor the back line as a libero.
This is a young team, with eight freshman and eleven underclassmen overall. Some of those freshman will have to come up big for BYU this season if the team is going to contend for the conference and national titles, much like Fernandez and de Brito Ferreira did last season.
A trio of freshman hitters – Andrew Lincoln, Davide Gardini, and Charlie Siragusa – are the most likely newcomers to make the biggest impact.
But with so many questions entering the 2019 season, Thursday’s matchup with the Buckeyes will be the perfect litmus test to start the season.