Jan. 9, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
The Stanford men's volleyball team got off to an emphatic start to the new season, by sweeping No. 9 BYU, 30-25, 30-24, 30-18, in the first round of the UCSB/Elephant Bar Invitational on Friday afternoon.
Stanford, No. 8 in the AVCA pre-season rankings, advanced to the semifinals of an eight-team event that includes seven nationally-ranked teams. The Cardinal next plays No. 4 Long Beach State tonight at 7, and either No. 5 Cal State Northridge or No. 14 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday for the championship (6:30 p.m.) or third place (4 p.m.).
Two freshmen started for the Cardinal, outside hitter Brad Lawson and libero Erik Shoji, and performed well (statistics were not kept). Both are from Honolulu and were among the top recruits in the country. But it was Erik's brother, Kawika, who got the Stanford offense rolling.
Kawika Shoji, a second-team All-American setter as a sophomore last season, "spread out the offense very well and got the middles involved early," Stanford coach John Kosty said. "If there were statistics, both outside hitters and the opposites probably had the same amount of kills."
The starting lineup for Stanford (17-11 and No. 9 last season) was sophomore Spencer McLachlin and freshman Lawson at outside hitter, senior Brandon Williams and junior Garrett Werner in the middle, junior Evan Romero at opposite, junior Kawika Shoji at setter and freshman Erik Shoji at libero.
"For us, and just volleyball in general, it's all about serving and passing," Kosty said. "We did a very good job today in those departments and created a lot of scoring opportunities. If we're going to have good serving and passing, we can compete with anyone."
Kosty said he wasn't going to experiment with lineups or hold anything back in the second match of the day.
"We come down to this tournament to win it," Kosty said. "The playing experience we gathered through fall and in practice has enabled us to compete to win."
The tournament immediately experienced an upset, as No. 2 UCLA lost to Cal State Northridge in four sets.
To visit the tournament Web site, go to: http://ucsbgauchos.cstv.com/ot/09ebartourney.html