Lauren Bosco | Posted: 25 Jan 2023 | Updated: 31 Jan 2023

BYU to host Liberty and McKendree in opening weekend of 2023 season

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2023 men's volleyball team photo

PROVO, Utah — BYU hosts three teams to begin the 2023 campaign, including Lewis University, McKendree University and the University of California, Irvine. Since it is not a true round-robin tournament, BYU will only face two out of three teams (McKendree and Lewis).

The Cougars are a combined 21-4 against McKendree and Lewis, including 19-3 all-time and 10-1 at home against Lewis and 2-1 at home against McKendree.

Since NCAA play began in 1990, BYU is 23-10 in season openers, 24-9 in home openers and 10-3 in home season openers.

The Cougars will be facing McKendree University from Lebanon, Illinois for just the fourth time in program history in their home opener. McKendree is coming off the best season in its program’s nine-year history. The last matchup between the Cougars and the Bearcats took place in 2019 at the Smith Fieldhouse where BYU lost 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 23-25, 22-25). Meanwhile, Lewis is ranked No. 14 in the AVCA’s coaches preseason poll.

BYU has been picked to finish sixth in the MPSF by the conference’s head coaches. The Cougars last MPSF title was in 2021.

The Cougars lost three-time All-American Davide Gardini from last season. In 2023, BYU features a young team, with nearly 70% of its roster filled with lower-classmen (freshmen or sophomores).

BYU keeps four of its starters in Mitchel Worthington, Kupono Browne, Gavin Julien and Miks Ramanis. Worthington enters the 2023 season in his fifth year as a Cougar due to COVID-19 eligibility. In the 2022 season, Coach Olmstead had 16 different starting lineup combinations.

BYU has six newcomers this season, including five freshmen. Five are true freshman and the other is senior setter Heath Hughes who transferred from Grand Canyon University.

BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead is beginning his eighth season leading the men’s volleyball team. With a 133-50 (.726) overall record, he has the third highest Division I men’s volleyball win-loss% out of all active D-1 head coaches. The four-time MPSF Coach of the Year, Olmstead added a new staff member to his squad in 2023. Otavio Souza will serve as a new men’s volleyball assistant coach who comes with experience from coaching at Cal, Saint Mary’s and Missouri State. Olmstead helped BYU to 3-straight NCAA Final Four appearances for the first time in program history (2016-2018).

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