BYU prematch VolleyFour news conference

Photo courtesy of BYU athletics

Check out what BYU coach Shawn Olmstead and his players said in their news conference on Wednesday.

The No. 2 seed BYU will play the host school UCLA in the VolleyFour on Thursday.

BYU coach Shawn Olmstead

Opening statement
“Thanks for coming and we’re super excited to be here. Thanks to UCLA for the venue and, thus far, a great event. It was exciting to be a part of some of the matches last night and watch those matches with Irvine, Ohio State, Harvard, UCLA and congrats to the teams that have advanced thus far. More than anything, we’re just excited to be here. Really happy for these guys and hope to make it a great tournament, great event.” on dealing with layoff heading into match “I think we’ve had the right mindset and I know these guys have, the player, in terms of looking at it as an opportunity for us to get better in practice. And I think we’ve planned our, since the MPSF championship a little more than a week ago, I think we’ve planned accordingly. The mindset these guys have had all season have been constant improvement and I think that we’ve done that and we wanted to measure a few things and look at some areas we can get better at and we’ve definitely done that. So that’s how we’ve approached the week. Excited to get going tomorrow.”

On what makes UCLA a tough opponent
“It’s exciting. UCLA-BYU—that’s been a constant now in men’s Division I volleyball for a handful of years. It’s a great team, a great group of guys. They’ve got a setter kind of leading their team and I like his leadership, I like the way that he plays the game. He’s played a lot of volleyball. They’ve got good volleyball players everywhere, so they’re going to come, they’re going to be aggressive from the service line, they’re going to go
back to score points—we know that. So it’s going to be an exciting matchup and we look for another one of those UCLA-BYU volleyball matches. That’s what the guys talk about and we’re all excited, for sure.”

On growth of sport
“It is important and you look at what volleyball here in the United States and men’s
volleyball, specifically, what it’s accomplished on the international stage, consistently over so many years. You’d hope that we can continue to pique the interest of young boys to look for that hope and that dream of becoming a collegiate athlete, competing in an NCAA tournament and I think, what we’ve got to do is continue to push it and see how we can expand this thing. How we can get more opportunities to young men to compete for championships and, to be able to do that, we’ve kind of got to increase the tournament field, we’ve got to do all that we can. I’m not the brains behind that and we’re all fortunate that that’s not the case, but I think there’s going to be some important meetings and discussions on how we can get more teams participating, how we can make it a bigger tournament for everybody involved. You look at all these other sports and, I understand Title IX, having coached with women’s and now coached with the men’s side—I get it, but we do need to do something to be able to expand that tournament as best we can, get more opportunities and do all that we can. Again, there’s so many great kids playing volleyball, specifically young men that we could give them the opportunity to compete for the championship, play in a tournament setting, do all they can to grow the sport. And to be able to do that, we’re going to have to get more teams and universities involved and hopefully we’re pushing that to expand a little more. But we have expanded recently and hope we can continue to do that.”

On new Big West conference
“it gave us some opportunity to definitely go play more out-of-conference teams and we were able to do that. You know we had some tough road trips and were able to host teams as well, in Provo. I’ll be honest, at first I understand the growth—the Big West kind of went along and did their thing. They were given that automatic berth to the NCAA, which is great, because then we’re able to expand things a little. But I’m not going to lie,
coming from somebody that played in the old MPSF and then coaching in the MPSF, that conference and every match and every battle night in and night out—it was fun to be a part of the battle to MPSF. I’m excited that we’ve been able to acquire that automatic berth, which is kind of something we need to do to be able to expand the tournament, look into that. It just makes scheduling a little more different. We have to be a little more creative because we don’t have those matchups that are in place in the normal conference schedule. We lost almost half, as did the Big West. And so we just have to make sure, it’d be nice if we’re all on the same page in terms of scheduling, trying to get conference to start at for the most part the same time so we can schedule to non-conference on the front end or be on the same page, we can all get out and go play teams from the Midwest, back east and all over. That was exciting, we were able [to go] all the way to Muncie. Then we went all the way to places like Hawai’i. Granted, Hawai’i’s been in our conference before. But we’re able to do that now. The budgets are the budgets. We have to be aware of that. It’s exciting. I think it is good for the sports, although, I’m not going to lie, I do miss the old MPSF and those battles that were — because it unfortunately gets a little more difficult to be able to schedule everybody. Obviously, we didn’t play everyone in the Big West. We played as many as we could and tried to get that scheduled. But there could be a matchup here where we’re playing against one of the teams that we haven’t played. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, that’s for sure.”

BYU setter Leo Durkin

On whether playing team in consecutive matches works to advantage or disadvantage
“It’s UCLA. We’re always excited for an opportunity to have another match against them. We know the guys on that squad, we love playing against them, it’s a good, competitive environment. I think, going into this match, a bunch of us guys are just grateful for the opportunity that we get to have another Final Four appearance. We’re just keeping it that. We’re just going to go out there and play our best ball.”

On what this opportunity means as a senior
“I’m just grateful. It’s the way I’d want it to be. Obviously, you envision going into your last year being able to have an opportunity like this. It’s just everything.”

BYU outside attacker Brenden Sander

On what this opportunity means as a senior
“Also, on top of being grateful and stuff, it’s our last year to do this. I have more motivation this year to do it than any other year. Along with that, it’s having fun this year, too, because it’s my last year going out there on the court with my brothers right here. It’s a lot of motivation to go win this and have fun doing it.”

On if anything is added being near his hometown of Huntington Beach, California
“I mean, of course it does with all the fans that come out and support us and family watching. Ultimately, that doesn’t affect me too much, personally. I just like making eye contact with everyone on our team on the court, just playing with them and doing what we do out there.”

BYU middle attacker Price Jarman

On what it means to face UCLA
“UCLA, they have some incredible athletes. I think that’s apparent when you watch them play and their style of play shows that. They’ve got some guys with super-high volleyball IQs who play the game at a really high level. I think this will be like our 10th or 11th time playing them in our career and every single time we’ve played them, it’s been an absolute battle and points don’t come easy. That’s kind of the matchup we expect is two physical teams that aren’t really willing to concede.”