The Cougars, who made it to the national championship game last season only to lose to UC Irvine, will play Stanford in the Final Four Thursday. The Cougars have already beaten the Cardinal three times this season.
"I'm really excited and grateful for the opportunity to play at such a big stage in men's volleyball at the Final Four," said senior Taylor Sander, who leads BYU with 478 kills. "I'm just ready to go to battle with my team."
Sander is a big reason why the 2nd-seeded Cougars could very well win its first national title since 2004. A 3-time All-American, the only thing missing from Sander's resume is a national title.
"It's another chance to battle and play together," Sander said. "I can't wait."
"We're really excited to be back here," said junior libero Jaylen Reyes. "We didn't really finish the deal last year. We lost in the finals, so we're really excited to be back this year and represent our university."
After cruising through most of the regular season, the Cougars then lost four straight matches and it looked like they were going to be left out of the NCAA Tournament. But the Cougars caught fire again in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, not losing a single game in victories over USC, UC Santa Barbara and Stanford.
"We had a great tournament," said head coach Chris McGowan. "The boys played really well, I think they're playing with a lot of confidence, and are actually playing really good volleyball right now."
But that tournament was at the raucous Smith Fieldhouse in Provo. The Cougars must now try to continue their hot streak on the road in Chicago, where if they beat Stanford, will most likely face the host school, Loyola. The Ramblers swept the Cougars 3-0 back in January in Chicago.
"The fact that it's on the road, we knew that from the beginning," said McGowan. "We knew we were going to have to play tough on the road and try to win a national championship on the road. So, we're ready for that mentally and are prepared for that."
"We're playing really well right now," added Reyes. "So, we're just trying to take what we were doing here at home over to Chicago, and hopefully we can win the national championship there."