BYU Football and Basketball dominate the headlines, but BYU Men’s Volleyball has a chance to do something special tonight.
Everyone knows that football and basketball are the biggest sports at BYU and it isn’t even close. But if we are able to put all sports on an equal field, tonight may be the biggest and most anticipated game in BYU history.
Sure, there have been some big rivalry games, bowl games and tournament games for BYU, but again on an equal field, the championship game always gets vaulted to the very top of the list.
As I think back in BYU history, there aren’t very many times when BYU has been in a No.1 vs No.2 championship game position. In fact, if my research is correct, the only time it has ever happened was when BYU faced Long Beach in the 1999 Men’s Volleyball Championship. While that game was highly anticipated, and it was redemption of the Cougars only loss, it was a one season rivalry, unlike tonight’s matchup.
A Championship Three Years in the Making
In 2019 BYU was a young promising team that tried to take down, or even take a set from the Rainbow Warriors who were on an NCAA record of games not only won, but without a dropped set. The Cougars were swept and it was really ugly.
Head Coach Shawn Olmstead and the Cougars saw this loss as a turning point. They knew they had to improve and change their perspective if they hoped to compete again at the highest level, something that they had been doing making multiple Final Fours, but never winning the National Championship.
In 2020, the Cougars were the same, but a different team. The team was still young, but more experienced. They came into Hawaii undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the nation. Not only did the Cougars compete with the No. 1 team in the nation, they swept them convincingly. The next night, Hawaii fought back and took down the Cougars five sets.
BYU took the overall No.1 ranking and fate seemed to pointing to a round three round for the Championship later in the season. No team seemed to be able to compete with either team and the rematch seemed like just a matter of time with nothing that would slow either team down.
Then Covid happened.
At the moment when the season was cancelled, it appeared that the Cougars were robbed of the greatest and most anticipated championship game of NCAA Men’s Volleyball history. But then something crazy happened, Shawn Olmstead was able to keep his entire intact. Hawaii also kept a majority of their roster.
So here we are. Outside of a surprising couple of losses by both teams, these teams been head and shoulders the best two teams all season long. Somehow these teams haven’t played this year so all we have to look at is how played last year, which again was historic in it’s own merit.
This game has been three years in the making and tonight the winner will feel on top of the world.