BYU men’s volleyball able to take a lot from 2020 season, despite its unfortunate end
Fresh off successful back-to-back matches versus Hawaii, BYU coach Shawn Olmstead had little idea it would mark the end for his standout 2020 team.
PROVO — BYU volleyball couldn’t have been in a much better spot as recently as a week ago.
Preparing to board a plane to take on Stanford, emotions and energy were high, and why wouldn’t they be?
Fresh off a weekend taking on then No. 1-ranked Hawaii in Honolulu, the Cougars were validated nationally as the true top-ranked team. Those are the spoils granted a team that managed to sweep the Rainbow Warriors on the road one night, and then take them a full five sets before narrowly losing the next night.
“It’s amazing that those were two of the last matches to be played, right before all this occurred. ... It was No. 1 (Hawaii) versus No. 2 (BYU), and our guys just went out there and made a statement.” — BYU coach Shawn Olmstead
The two matches took place just over a week ago, although it seems much longer, considering what’s transpired since.
“It’s amazing that those were two of the last matches to be played, right before all this occurred,” BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said. “... It was No. 1 (Hawaii) versus No. 2 (BYU), and our guys just went out there and made a statement. ... (our players) gave their heart and soul and left it all out there on the floor. ... They showed everybody what they were.”
It’s not a bad way to go out, looking back, although far from the ideal way in the mind of Olmstead and most every other collegiate coach across the country.
Just before boarding to fly and take on Stanford, the news hit: All NCAA spring sports canceled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The stark announcement changed everything quite dramatically for Olmstead and his players.
Olmstead spoke for the first time regarding the extraordinary developments during a teleconference with the media Monday, reflecting on his team and its season, and expressing the general concerns held by many.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those people that are going through this and right in the thick of it,” Olmstead began his teleconference. “Those were our thoughts at first, too, because we saw everything developing — everybody did, and all at once things began to fall.”
The concerns of Olmstead aren’t dominated by the disappointment for his team, but general concern for the well-being of everyone.
A potential unofficial national championship granted his team by a national media service? Not even near the forefront of Olmstead’s concerns when presented the possibility.
“My thoughts just continue to go back to our team, and our season, and the great season they’ve had,” Olmstead said. “... I’m proud of the guys. I’m happy for the guys, but there’s so many guys trying to process everything that it’s hard for me to sit here and say I have a stance on this or that.”
What Olmstead can process is the season his team had, with standouts like pin-hitters Gabi Garcia Fernandez and Davide Gardini, highlighting what proved one of the more potent BYU men’s volleyball teams ever. Sure, a lot was left to play out, and fortunes can certainly turn on a dime — a fact Olmstead readily pointed out.
But for that last glance provided at this year’s product, it was indeed memorable, and will be cherished for some time by Olmstead and everyone involved.
“What a great group of guys we’ve had who have established themselves as some of the best players in the country this year,” Olmstead said. “Each one of our players on the court can say that. ... In those tough moments they’ll always be able to hold on to what they had as a team. ... The culture they built with the coaches and with each other. That’s the big deal.”