BYU men's volleyball vs UC Irvine 4

The BYU men's volleyball team prepares to take the floor against UC Irvine in the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo on March 8, 2019.

BYU men's volleyball head coach Shawn Olmstead has announced the Cougars' 2020 schedule, including matches against four 2019 NCAA Tournament teams.

BYU will open the season the first weekend of January with two road matches in Illinois. On Jan. 3, the Cougars will play against Loyola-Chicago, which ended last season ranked No. 9 in the country. The next day on Jan. 4, BYU will then take on Lewis, which reached the semifinals of the 2019 NCAA Tournament and finished ranked No. 4.

The Cougars' home opener will be the following weekend against Penn State. The two teams will play in the Smith Fieldhouse back-to-back nights on Jan. 10-11. The Nittany Lions last made a trip out to Provo in 2012 and have lost the last eight matches played against BYU.

While on a four-match road stint, BYU will play at UC Irvine on Jan. 22 and Jan. 24. The Cougars beat the then-No. 3 Anteaters as the two teams split the pair of matches played in Provo last year. UC Irvine eventually ended the season ranked eighth.

The following week, the Cougars will host UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Concluding last season ranked sixth in the country, the Gauchos will be the fourth team BYU will play in the month of January that ended the 2019 season ranked in the top 10.

On Feb. 6, the Cougars will open Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play against UCLA in the Smith Fieldhouse. Both teams won at home last season with BYU beating the then-No. 4 Bruins in five sets on Elaine Michaelis Court.

The Cougars will play each of its six conference opponents home-and-away this year, including two teams that made the NCAA Tournament in 2019. Defending MPSF champion Pepperdine reached the semifinals of the tourney while USC didn't make it past the opening round.

BYU will take a break from conference play to travel to face Hawaii, last year's national runner-up, March 5-6. The Warriors won the 2019 Big West title and received the top seed in the NCAA Tournament. Their three losses on the year all came at the hands of the eventual national champions, Long Beach State.

The Cougars look to have their 24th consecutive winning season as the team only graduated libero Taylor Richards from the 2019 roster. Key returners from the squad that finished No. 11 in the polls include All-American Gabi Garcia Fernandez and 2019 MPSF Freshman of the Year Davide Gardini. The tandem led the team in kills with 390 and 319, respectively.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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