Jan. 4, 2007
Stanford Men's Volleyball will open their 2007 campaign on the road in the Elephant Bar Tournament with a match against top ranked UC Irvine on Friday, January 5th. The match will begin at 1:00 PM in the Thunderdome at UCSB. The tournament includes a strong field of conference opponents, including: UCSB, UCLA, Cal State Northridge, USC, Pacific, Long Beach State, and UC Irvine. The Cardinal's home opener will be on Jan. 12 against Cal State Northridge at 7:00 pm in Maples Pavilion.
With only one returning senior on the squad this year, the Stanford Men's Volleyball team will look to utilize its youth and vigor in the 2007 season. The team returns two starters from last season after graduating five seniors. "We are looking to the underclassmen to take a major role and direct this team and the program. We've had two solid recruiting classes and are looking to gain experience through playing time. The key to our success this year will be the combination of older and younger players on the court together," said first year head coach John Kosty.
Not only is there a change in the player roster, but staff as well. Kosty was appointed as Head Coach upon the departure of Don Shaw, who left the program after a 26-year tenure at Stanford. Kosty spent 16 years as an Associate Head Coach before assuming his current position. New to the staff is Assistant Coach Ken Shibuya. Prior to his arrival on The Farm, Shibuya served as the Head Coach at Juniata College from 2002-2006.
Brian Lindberg is the sole senior on the squad this year. The Thousand Oaks native served as the team's libero last season, providing consistency and a sense of steadiness to the back of the court. "Lindberg brings a competitive knowledge to the game which makes him a good team leader." says Kosty.
Matt Ceran, Brian Skinner, and Jesse Meredith make up the junior class this year. Ceran will play a huge role on the team as both an outside hitter and middle blocker. Skinner and Meredith will add experience to the outside hitter position and will also contribute on the court. Their athletic ability and arm swing give the Cardinal a secure spot on the outside.
Five sophomores return to The Farm this season. Setter Miki Groppi will add fire and enthusiasm to the team. He is the first Italian player to compete in Division I men's volleyball. Jarod Keller will return as a libero this year after a good offseason, and Cameron Christoffers and Brandon Williams will come back as middle blockers for the team as well. Coach Kosty looks to them as a solid blocking duo that will give the team multiple options in the middle and have a positive impact on the team.
Five freshmen rap up the team this year for the Cardinal. Garrett Werner, a middle blocker, comes from River Hills, WI. Ed Howell and Evan Romero, from San Diego, CA and Miami Lakes, FL respectively, join the squad as opposites. Jason Palacios joins the Cardinal from Manhattan Beach, Calif. as an outside hitter, following in the footsteps of both his brothers who played volleyball for Stanford. Native Hawaiian Kawika Shoji, a highly anticipated recruit, will play outside hitter for the team as well as setter.
The setter position is one of the deepest positions on the court this year. Miki Groppi, John Ekins, and Kawika Shoji are all seeking starting positions. They each contribute a different aspect to the team offense. "Ekins brings a steadiness and consistency to the offense. Groppi brings an outgoing personality that is infectious on the court. Shoji brings an experience level with his international competition over the last three summers. He brings quickness and consistency that allows us to run an efficient offense," says Coach Kosty.
Kosty describes the middle blocker position as being, "as good and deep as we've had in a long time." Senior Matt Ceran brings experience from last season and has greatly improved. The staff is looking for him to have a breakout year this season. Brandon Williams will be a consistent force this year both offensively and with blocking. Cameron Christoffers will add depth and competitiveness at the position, while freshman Garrett Werner will integrate himself into the lineup and improve the overall play in this position.
Although this position will be youthful and inexperienced, inevitably it will be overcome by athleticism. All outsides bring a unique aspect to the game. Ceran brings size and solid passing while Shoji adds passing and a high level of playing experience. Jesse Meredith brings an athleticism that will help the Cardinal's sideout game. Freshman Jason Palacios will add a presence at the net as well as a solid arm swing. Skinner and Ekins will wrap up the outside position and provide outstanding ball control and passing to the game.
Ed Howell and Evan Romero will hold down the opposite position this year. "They both bring size and athletic ability to the position. We are looking for great things from both of these players," says Kosty.
The libero position is very strong for the Cardinal this year. Two extremely consistent players, Brian Lindberg and Jarod Keller, are competing for this position. Lindberg is the returning starter to the position from last year. "He brings a steadiness that is much needed on the court," notes Kosty. Keller brings an outwardly competitive style in this defensive position. The competition between the two will vastly improve the position from last year.