The return of two All-American pin-hitters has helped catapult BYU to be the MPSF preseason favorite for the upcoming season.
The Cougars received all but two first-place votes to finish atop the MPSF Preseason Coaches Poll that was released Friday.
Both opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez and outside attacker David Gardini are among the returning starters who led the Cougars to the MPSF Tournament semifinals last season.
Fernandez was fourth in the nation with a 4.29 kills per game average in 2019 and was named a Second-Team All-American and finalist for the Bryan Ivie Award. Gardini, a Freshman All-American and the 2019 MPSF Player of the Year, was among the national leaders averaging 3.47 kills per game and had a .320 attack percentage.
UCLA was the only other team to garner a first-place vote. The Bruins finished in second place with 31 votes — four fewer votes than the Cougars.
All-American middle attacker Daenan Gyimah highlights the starters returning for the Bruins, which similar to the Cougars also reached the 2019 MPSF Tournament semifinals. Gyimah ended last season fifth in the nation with a .435 attack percentage and had double-digit kills in 15 matches.
Stanford and the defending MPSF champions Pepperdine round-out the top half of the preseason poll.
The MPSF season begins in February and concludes with the conference tournament in April. The winner of the MPSF Tournament will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
2020 MPSF Preseason Coaches Poll
1. BYU — 35 (5) votes
2. UCLA — 31 (2) votes
3. Stanford — 27 votes
4. Pepperdine — 19 votes
T-5. Grand Canyon — 14 votes
T-5. USC — 14 votes
7. Concordia-Irvine — 7 votes