March Madness is over, but let's not start the passage to baseball, spring sports and the end of the winter season on college campuses everywhere just yet.
It's volleyball time.
The BYU men's volleyball team opens up the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament Saturday, April 20 at 7 p.m. MT with a home match against Hawai'i. The Cougars (22-4, 21-3 MPSF) cruised through the regular season, wrapping up the title and No. 1 seed — not to mention, a No. 1 national ranking — a few weeks ago, and need only a solid showing to be regarded for a berth in the four-team NCAA tournament.
The Warriors (10-14, 11-16 MPSF) come into the match riding high, capping a dramatic rally to down UC San Diego and clinch the final spot in the MPSF postseason. Hawai'i also got help from Cal State Northridge, which lost its final five matches to bow out of playoff consideration. The Warriors' Brook Sedore was named MPSF player of the week for his 50-kill, 13-dig, nine-block effort in the sweep of the Tritons.
But don't expect BYU to take it easy on the Warriors (10-14, 11-16 MPSF). The Cougars are well aware of what it means to roll through the regular season, only to get knocked off early in the postseason and miss a shot at the national title early. Remember, this is the same team that lost to Jeff Menzel and UC Santa Barbara before the Gauchos made their improbable run to the title match in 2011.
This is also the team that swept Hawai'i during the regular season, though. The Cougars down the Warriors, 25-18, 25-22, 25-17 on Jan. 4 behind 14 kills from junior phenom Taylor Sander, then Sander helped complete the homestand with a 25-21, 25-21, 24-26, 25-20 with 18 kills on a .500 hitting percentage.
BYU hasn't won an MPSF tournament title since 2004, and a No. 1 seed has never fallen in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Hawai'i has only won a match in the tourney once in the past decade. BYU, meanwhile, is 13-3 when it plays at home in a postseason match.
Fans can purchase tickets through BYUtickets.com. General admission is $10 for adults, and $5 for students.
The MPSF quarterfinals are as follows, as outlined by the MPSF's official website:
Quarterfinal No. 1
No. 8 Hawai'i (10-14) at No. 1 BYU (22-4). 7 p.m. MT
Quarterfinal No. 2
No. 5 Seed Pepperdine (14-11) at No. 4 Seed UCLA (20-10). 7 p.m. PT
Quarterfinal No. 3
No. 6 Seed Stanford (15-12) at No. 3 Seed Long Beach State (22-7). 7 p.m. PT
Quarterfinal No. 4
No. 7 Seed UC Santa Barbara (15-15) at No. 2 Seed UC Irvine (22-6; defending national champion). 7 p.m. PT