Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor
BYU will open the 2020 season with a pair of matches with the Chicago schools. The Cougars open up with a match at Loyola, a team they have split the previous ten matches with. The Ramblers won the most recent match in #CincoSets in 2018, and also hold a 3-2 edge in Chicago.
Loyola finished 21-8 (12-2 MIVA) last year. The Ramblers won their last eight matches before losing to MIVA tournament champion, Lewis, in the tournament finals in three games.
Outside attacker Collin Mahan made the 2019 All-American Second-Team, while libero Avery Aylsworth, middle attacker Paul Narup, and setter Garrett Zolg all received All-American Honorable Mention nods. Zolg is the only one of the four returning to Loyola in 2020.
Loyola ranked in the top two in all statistical categories last season in the MIVA for the exception of blocks per game. Zolg ranked No. 1 in the MIVA and No. 2 nationally with 10.86 assists per game.
BYU was 13-12 (6-6 MPSF) last year, losing to eventual MPSF tournament champions, Pepperdine, in the semifinals. The Cougars lost six of their final seven matches to end the year. Playing their home matches at altitude really showed in their home/road record disparity; the Cougars were 10-3 at Smith Fieldhouse, while they were 3-9 away from it.
While a 13-12 record and semifinal exit from the conference tournament qualifies as down year in Provo, the future is bright. Off the Block named BYU it’s No. 1 team in it’s Way Too Early Projected Top 10 released in May.
The only senior lost from last year’s team was libero Taylor Richards. In fact, Richards’s loss only represented a loss of 9% of their digs from last year, and 3% of their assists. 100% of their kills, service aces, and blocks return. Highlighting those returning players are opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez (two-time All-American) and outside attacker Davide Gardini (2019 MPSF Freshman of the Year).
Garcia Fernandez led the team and conference with 4.29 kills per game. The Cougars ranked No. 6 nationally with 2.46 blocks per game, led by middle attackers Felipe de Brito Ferreira (1.011 blocks per game) and Miki Jauhiainen (1.000 blocks per game).
Ten of BYU’s first 16 matches are at home, while seven of their final eight matches are on the road. BYU will play four teams that made last year’s NCAA tournament.
2020 BYU Schedule
Friday, Jan 3 at Loyola
Saturday, Jan 4 at Lewis
Friday, Jan 10 vs. Penn State
Saturday, Jan 11 vs. Penn State
Friday, Jan 17 at Mount Olive
Saturday, Jan 18 at Mount Olive
Wednesday, Jan 22 at UC Irvine
Friday, Jan 24 at UC Irvine
Friday, Jan 31 vs. UC Santa Barbara
Saturday, Feb 1 vs. UC Santa Barbara
Thursday, Feb 6 vs. UCLA
Saturday, Feb 8 vs. Pepperdine
Friday, Feb 14 at Grand Canyon
Thursday, Feb 20 vs. Concordia
Saturday, Feb 22 vs. USC
Saturday, Feb 29 vs. Stanford
Saturday, Mar 5 at Hawai’i
Friday, Mar 6 at Hawai’i
Friday, Mar 13 at Stanford
Friday, Mar 27 at Concordia
Saturday, Mar 28 at USC
Thursday, Apr 2 vs. Grand Canyon
Thursday, Apr 9 at Pepperdine
Saturday, Apr 11 at UCLA