BYU men's volleyball takes on No. 1 Long Beach State 11

Fans hold up a special section of the Daily Herald just before a game between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Long Beach State 49ers on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

Which is the best BYU men’s volleyball team of all-time?

The men’s volleyball program is elite and competes at the highest level better than any other on campus. Every home match sees 3-4,000 fans filling up the Smith Fieldhouse and students have a blast dancing to the hip-hop music between serves.

The Cougars have won three NCAA men’s volleyball titles (1999, 2001, 2004) and played for four more (2003, 2013, 2016, 2017). If you add to those numbers the 2020 team, you have a nice, neat eight-team bracket.

You’ve got to vote in the polls so make sure you step up to let your voice be heard. I’ll make a case for each one of the teams to refresh your memory.

The first semifinal went to the No. 1- seed (1999) which defeated No. 4-seed (2020) 65 percent to 35 percent in the reader poll. That would have been a really fun match on the actual court between two of BYU’s best teams ever.

The second semifinal was the first upset of the tournament, with No. 3-seed (2001) knocking out No. 2-seed 2004 by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin in the reader poll.

Now, on to the final between No. 1-seed 1999 and No. 3-seed 2001.

It should be noted that the setter for both teams was Hector Lebron. After BYU won the 1999 title, he redshirted in 2000 and came back as senior in 2001 to quarterback another championship. In addition, both teams were coached by the legendary Carl McGown.

BYU volleyball Ossie Antonetti

BYU volleyball player Ossie Antonetti in a match against Hawaii in 1999.

No. 1-seed BYU 1999

Head Coach: Carl McGown

Overall record: 30-1

MPSF record: 18-1 (1st)

Home record: 15-1

Offense: .371

Defense: .220

Final Ranking: 1

McGown took the BYU men’s volleyball program from its successful club days right into the toughest volleyball conference in the country in 1991. It took nine years for McGown to push the Cougars to the top.

BYU lost just one match in 1999, a five-set thriller to Long Beach State in front of more than 7,000 fans in the Marriott Center. Future Olympian Ryan Millar (4.88 kills per set, .492, 2.16 blocks per set) was dominating but finished second on the team in hitting to high-flying Ossie Antonetti (5.87 kps, .346).

The Cougars swept Long Beach State in the NCAA title match for the program’s first national title. Antonetti, who was named first-team All-American along with Millar, was so excited he took the championship trophy from officials and did an unsanctioned victory lap around Pauley Pavilion.

How good was this team? During the regular season BYU beat UCLA 15-0 in one set, almost unheard of during the side-out scoring era.

BYU mvb Wall spike_9770c

BYU outside hitter Mike Wall goes up for a kill in match during the 2001 men's volleyball season.

No. 3-seed BYU 2001

Head Coach: Carl McGown

Overall record: 23-4

MPSF record: 14-3 (1st)

Home record: 14-2

Offense: .370

Defense: .222

Final Ranking: 1

The Cougars second NCAA title came in 2001 in Long Beach, where McGown grew up. BYU was dominant throughout the season, posting 15 sweeps during its schedule. The Cougars dropped a 3-1 decision to Hawaii at home in the MPSF Tournament finals and went into the NCAA’s as the No. 2 seed.

After dropping Penn State 3-1 in the semifinals, BYU powered to a sweep against mighty UCLA in the final (30-26, 30-26, 32-30).

Final Four MVP Mike Wall had a terrific season at outside hitter (4.41 kps, .364) and Joaquin Acosta was nearly as dynamic (3.00 kps, .358). Scott Bunker was an All-American in the middle (2.62 kps, .405, 1.84 bps) and setter Hector Lebron, who redshirted the 2000 season, came back to win his second NCAA title.

Bunker, Acosta and Wall were first team All-Americans and middle blocker Matt Olsen (1.23 bps) was named to the second team.

Be sure to get your vote logged on Twitter or at CougarBlue.com!



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

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