BYU setter Robbie Sutton played his first game as a Cougar against UCI back in January. Since then, he has played in a dozen matches, showing steady improvement as the season has progressed.
The sophomore from San Diego had his first career start last Saturday against No. 8 USC, replacing teammate and roommate Tyler Heap who was out with an ankle injury. Sutton ended the match with 36 assists as the Cougars swept the Trojans. In an interview with BYU Sports Nation Sutton stated, "I was just excited. I woke up Saturday morning and I called my mom, and I was like, I am playing USC - in a playoff match - couldn't be anything better!"
If you ever wonder how to mentally prepare for an event like your first collegiate start, against a nationally ranked team, in a tournament match, you might try mimicking Sutton's approach last Saturday - it seemed to work pretty well for him. Go golfing. Take the best player on the team with you, and both of you bring your dads. You'll be too excited after golfing, so skip your final (I wish I had known that was an option!) and take a nap. When you wake up, go have lunch with your fiancé. Then go and play volleyball like you deserve the starting position on a No. 4 team.
Five days later, BYU faced UC Santa Barbara in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament. Again, the Cougars were victorious in three straight sets, as Sutton had another impressive night with 26 assists and 5 digs.
During the interview with BYU Sports Nation, Sutton was asked how the Cougars managed to play so well. "I think we just came in with a bunch of confidence, that what it was. We had a great week of practice and we just had a bunch of fun."
Commenting on how the team could have confidence in him as an "unknown", going into such a big match, Sutton replied, "The whole season leading up to it I had been the back up setter, but we practiced just like, me and Tyler competed every single day."
Sutton also credits his readiness to his success in "The Cauldron", a setup in practice where every play is counted for points. "That competition bred for me to be able to be ready for this opportunity, even though I hadn't started a game all year."
Leading up to two weeks ago, the Cougars were on a four match losing streak. Since then, they have won nine sets in a row and are headed to the NCAA Men's Volleyball Tournament.