After a disappointing conclusion to 2012, the BYU men's volleyball team is once again a contender for a national championship.
The No. 2-ranked Cougars, who open the season Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. against Hawaii in the Smith Fieldhouse, return talent and experience at nearly every position, including All-American Taylor Sander at outside hitter.
For 2013, the Cougars bring plenty to the table, including two All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation selections, senior middle blocker Russ Lavaja and sophomore outside hitter Josue Rivera. Sophomore Jaylen Reyes started 11 games at libero last year, while senior Ryan Boyce had five starts at setter.
Only setter and libero can be seen as questions, but BYU coach Chris McGown has a match-ready player prepared to step forward in each spot.
"We at BYU enjoyed a solid 2012 year, and are again optimistic going into the 2013 season," McGown said. "We graduated several key players at opposite, middle and setter, but those that we have stepping into those roles are working hard to live up to those standards set by their predecessors."
The Cougars finished 24-7 last season, with a loss to Stanford in the MPSF semifinals. At the very least, a victory would have placed three-time national champion BYU in the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid.
BYU holds a 31-17 series advantage against unranked for the first time Hawaii. In Provo, the Cougars have beaten the Warriors in eight consecutive matches.
BYU vs. Hawaii
P Friday, Saturday, Smith Fieldhouse, Provo
TV • BYUtv (both days)