For the BYU and Stanford men’s volleyball teams, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. It brings respect.
Five days after the Cougars beat the Cardinal in straight sets to win the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title in Provo, BYU and Stanford will tangle on Thursday night in Chicago with even more at stake: a berth in the national championship game.
First serve in the Final Four match at Gentile Arena on the campus of Loyola University in Chicago is at 5 p.m. MDT.
The winner will meet the winner of No. 1 seed Loyola and No. 4 seed Penn State on Saturday for the national title. That 7 p.m. MDT match will be televised nationally by ESPNU.
Thursday’s match will mark the fourth time second-seeded BYU (21-8) and third-seeded Stanford (23-8) will meet this year. The Cougars won all three previous matchups, taking down the Cardinal 3-1 in Provo, 3-2 in Palo Alto and then 3-0 last Saturday in front of 4,367 fans at Smith Fieldhouse.
Stanford advanced with an easy 25-14, 25-16, 25-15 win over Erskine College in one of Tuesday’s two play-in games. Penn State downed Lewis 3-1 in the other one.
“We have battled against each other many times,” BYU’s Taylor Sander said of the Cardinal. “We have the utmost respect for them.”
The Cardinal had won 13 straight matches before Saturday’s loss, and were already talking about getting a chance for revenge in Chicago before they left Provo.
“It is difficult for both teams because you get to know each other pretty well,” BYU coach Chris McGown said. “They have a good sense of who we are and how we want to play, and we have the same sense of them.”
The Cougars won all three of their MPSF tournament matches in straight sets, but now have to prove they can win away from Smith Fieldhouse. They had dropped four straight matches on the road prior to the conference tournament.
“We controlled the service line, and that was the difference,” McGown said. “We controlled all three matches from the service line.”
NCAA men’s volleyball semifinals
O No. 2 BYU (21-8) vs. No. 3 Stanford (23-8)
At Gentile Arena, Chicago
Thursday, 5 p.m. MDT
Video streaming • NCAA.com
Live stats • BYUcougars.com