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BYU volleyball: Is Cougars’ Ben Patch the next big thing?
College volleyball » Freshman has already become vital cog in BYU’s top-ranked team.

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"He took everything I told him and applied it," Willett said. "When he was in ninth grade, I knew he was going to be a good player. It’s fun to see the level he’s playing at."

It was about the ninth grade that Patch experienced the growth spurt that would ultimately change his life.

At a glance

Ben Patch file

» 6-foot-8 freshman from Provo

» Is the only player to win the AVCA Player of the Week award two consecutive weeks

» As a member of the U.S. Junior National Team, Patch was named MVP of the NORCECA Championship, a tournament featuring eight countries

» Named in Volleyball Magazine as one of the top 10 recruits for his class

Cougars’ homestand

O BYU vs. Pepperdine Thursday, 7 p.m.

BYU vs. USC Saturday, 8 p.m.

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"That’s an understatement," Linda said with a laugh. "It was challenging, but he found a way to get a job and make money and pretty much keep himself in clothes."

At the same time, Patch began attending BYU men’s volleyball games, not that he was a big Cougar fan. In fact, just the opposite. Yet, there was much joy watching the men compete.

"I’d sit over there," said Patch, pointing to a corner of the Smith Fieldhouse. "And, ‘Holy cow, these guys are freaking insane.’ I used to marvel at how tall they were. I was below their shoulders. Now [and he laughs] I’m taller than all of them.

"I didn’t know if I could ever play college volleyball. I wasn’t sure I was that good. I was short, then all of a sudden, tall, tall, tall, tall."

That notion of selling himself short followed him through high school. Patch traveled to Anaheim, Calif., with a friend to try out for the youth national team. He was certain there was no way he was going to be picked — only to find himself was bound for the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"Are you kidding?" Patch remembered thinking. "Things just keep happening. There’s got to be something in this."

Certainly, Cougar volleyball fans revel in Patch’s high-flying assault. So does Patch.

"I freaking love it," he said. "Why can’t you dance around when playing for a Division I men’s volleyball team, let alone the No. 1 team in the country. If you’re not having fun, why are you playing?"

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