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 3,000-4,000 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.
Our quarterfinal results all went chalk. No. 1-seed 1999 defeated No. 8-seed 2016 (77% to 23%); No. 4-seed 2020 beat No. 5-seed 2013 (90% to 10%); No. 3-seed 2001 routed No. 6-seed 2003 (85% to 15%) and No. 2-seed 2004 topped No. 7-seed (78% to 22%).
The semifinals are going to be really interesting. Today we’re looking at No. 2 and No. 3 (2004 vs. 2001).
No. 2-seed BYU 2004
Head Coach: Tom Peterson
Overall record: 29-4
MPSF record: 20-2 (1st)
Home record: 16-1
Final Ranking: 1
Peterson had big shoes to fill when McGown resigned in 2002 but he got the Cougars to the finals in 2004. BYU won 28 of its final 29 matches and endured an NCAA investigation into the eligibility of two of its players: Victor Batista and Joe Hillman. They were eventually cleared but resentment remained among BYU opponents.
The Cougars won the 2004 NCAA title in Honolulu, finishing with an epic five-set victory (15-30, 30-18, 20-30, 32-30, 19-17) against Long Beach State. BYU trailed 10-6 in the fifth set and fought off three match points before rallying for a stunning victory.
The Cougars had a balanced attack with Fernando Pessoa (4.03 kps, .360), Jonathan Alleman (3.34 kps, .350) and Hillman (3.54 kps, .345) leading the way but it was the brilliance of setter Carlos Moreno — the Final Four MVP — that set BYU apart. The hallmark of this team was its grittiness and determination to win the most important points during a match.
Pessoa earned first team All-American honors with Batista and Hillman named to the second team.
No. 3-seed BYU 2001
Head Coach: Carl McGown
Overall record: 23-4
MPSF record: 14-3 (1st)
Home record: 14-2
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.