BYU volleyball: Cougars looking forward to shot vs. No. 1-ranked UCLA on Friday

Since Shawn Olmstead took over as coach of the BYU males’s volleyball program, the Cougars have confronted a No. 1-ranked workforce yearly however one. The Cougars will once more get that chance Friday and Saturday after they welcome UCLA to the Smith Fieldhouse for a pair of matches in opposition to the top-ranked Bruins.

“I think it’ll be an amazing experience,” BYU sophomore center blocker Gavin Julien mentioned about enjoying UCLA in Provo this weekend after a month of matches away from house. “I can’t wait. I love playing in the Smith Fieldhouse, no matter who we play. I’m just really, really excited to be out there again.”

The Cougars could have their work lower out for them, enjoying in opposition to a UCLA squad that has held the highest spot within the nationwide rankings for eight straight weeks and has solely misplaced three units in its final seven matches.

“I think it’ll take everything on our side of the court,” Julien mentioned about what it is going to take to topple the Bruins. “If we play well together and we do what needs to be done we can beat anybody in the country. That’s what it’s going to take. We’re just going to have to play well together.”

UCLA coach John Speraw holds the Cougars in excessive regard and is aware of {that a} hostile surroundings awaits his squad in Provo.

“I have many friends that are there and an incredible amount of respect for what BYU has built with their men’s volleyball program,” he mentioned. “(Playing in the Smith Fieldhouse) is something that I think we can all look to as a special experience for our student-athletes and a challenge for our team to go get wins in a really difficult place to compete.”

Nine of BYU’s 11 opponents this season are at the moment ranked. Against these groups, the Cougars have posted a 4-14 document.

BYU received two straight matches at house over now-No. 14 UC Irvine. The Cougars wanted 5 units to take down the Anteaters the primary evening, however made fast work of their guests in a sweep the following night.  

After dramatically reverse sweeping present No. 7-ranked Ball State on Feb. 4, BYU fell right into a droop, dropping 9 straight matches — all to ranked opponents. 

At the tip of March, the Cougars received their fourth match in opposition to a ranked foe, splitting two matches with Pepperdine in Malibu. The Waves entered these contests ranked No. 7 however have since fallen to No. 8. 

Those matches have ready the Cougars for Goliath this weekend. 

In previous years, BYU has been spectacular in opposition to top-ranked groups, posting a 26-24 all-time document in these matches. Under Olmstead, that document stands at 6-3. Olmstead’s first two wins over top-ranked squads came visiting UCLA in 2016. 

The Smith Fieldhouse has confirmed to be kryptonite for the nation’s greatest because the flip of the century. The Cougars’ 12-5 house document in opposition to No. 1 groups since 2000 reveals simply how vital BYU’s house court docket could possibly be in opposition to UCLA Friday and Saturday. 

“It’s really hard to do,” Speraw mentioned when requested about making ready his gamers for a match in Provo. “It’s a tough place to get a win and when you do it’s well-earned.” 

Some of BYU’s best-attended matches have been in opposition to UCLA. In 2001, the Cougars defeated the top-ranked Bruins in entrance of a Smith Fieldhouse document crowd of 6,119. BYU can once more count on large crowds when No. 1 UCLA involves city this weekend. 

“Anytime we play a bigger-name school where people know who they are or someone who we’ve historically played a lot, the Smith Fieldhouse is always packed, it always fills up, and it’s always energetic,” Julien mentioned. “Even though it’s like that every time, maybe it’s just a little bit more when it comes to teams like that. But it’s always an amazing environment.”

Friday would be the first time since 2017 that the nation’s greatest will go to Provo. BYU break up two matches at house with No. 1 Long Beach State that 12 months. 

Last 12 months marked simply the second season that an Olmstead-ed Cougars squad didn’t take down the nation’s No. 1 — the one different time coming in 2019, when BYU didn’t get a shot at a top-ranked workforce.

The Cougars will probably be trying to buck that development this weekend.  


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