Ohio State won the NCAA men’s volleyball championship last year by beating Brigham Young in straight sets.

Now that their rematch in the finals is at hand, the top-seeded Buckeyes (31-2) believe they still have something to prove to the third-seeded Cougars (26-4) at 7 tonight in St. John Arena.

“We’re all pretty excited,” senior Matt Dorn said. “We want to show them that there’s a reason we won last year and show that we’re still a (great) team.”

Asked to elaborate, Dorn added, “It seemed like last year when we played them that they didn’t respect us enough, like when we were preparing for the game.”

He said the Buckeyes believed they had to prove that they deserved to be there. That may stem from the fact that teams from the West have long dominated men’s volleyball. Though Midwestern teams — Ohio State in 2011 and ’16 and Loyola of Chicago in 2014 and ’15 — have won four of the past six national championships, perceptions linger.

“We put in as much time as the next team and work as hard as the next team and other teams that have won,” Buckeyes coach Pete Hanson said. “If we have to recognize theirs, then we would expect that the recognition would be the same going in the other direction. In some areas, it wasn’t, and I think that sometimes was a little bit frustrating.”

BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said he didn’t detect any lack of respect from his team last year.

“I don’t know where that would come from,” he said. “If they felt that way, that’s a bummer. I don’t think our guys carry themselves that way. We have no reason to.”

But it is clear that the loss in the title game has fueled BYU this season.

“Honestly, it was kind of a shock losing last year,” senior Joseph Grosh said. “During the course of the season, personally I’ve been reflecting. ‘What could we have done better? Could we have come out more aggressively? Could we have served harder?’ Those are the things over the course of the year we’ve been working on — a lot of serving and serve-receiving. We’ve been preparing for this moment, and here we are.”

In last year’s final, Ohio State survived seven set points in the first set before prevailing 32-30. The Buckeyes then rode strong serving in winning the next two sets 25-23 and 25-17.

Nicolas Szerszen is Ohio State’s best server, and whether he can get on a run like he did in the second set of the Buckeyes’ straight-set victory over Hawaii on Thursday will be a key.

“We all know at some point in time, Nic will find his groove and put an enormous amount of pressure on an opponent,” Hanson said.

But BYU has stars, too. Brenden Sander was dominating in the Cougars’ straight-set victory over second-seeded Long Beach State.

The Buckeyes are counting on the home crowd to give them a lift. Almost 5,000 attended Thursday’s matches.

“The opportunity to play at home and be in the national championship at home, those two things (together) never come, ever,” sophomore Blake Leeson said. “That opportunity alone is going to be surreal. Hopefully, we can get it done for the fans and for one another.”