Jan. 12, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. -
Complete Release in PDF Format
The No. 4 Stanford men’s volleyball team begins defense of its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title when it plays host to No. 2 BYU in a conference-opening series for both teams. Stanford returns three starters and All-America libero Erik Shoji from its NCAA championship team of a year ago, and 13 letterwinners overall. But the Cardinal faces a difficult test against a BYU team that captured the eight-team season-opening Gaucho Invitational in Santa Barbara last week, moving up from No. 5 to No. 2 in the AVCA Division I-II coaches’ poll as a result. Stanford opened with a sweep of visiting UC Santa Cruz on Wednesday.
Follow the Action
• Gametracker live stats will be available on links found at gostanford.com.
Throughout the entire regular season, home matches at both Maples Pavilion and Burnham Pavilion are free of charge.
Stanford enters the conference season on two substantial winning streaks. The Cardinal has won seven consecutive matches and 17 consecutive sets. Stanford charged through the 2010 postseason by winning 15 of the 16 sets it played. No team had won more consecutive sets to end a season since UCLA won 17 in a row in 1993. The last time Stanford lost a set was in the first round of the MPSF tournament when UC Irvine captured the second set in a four-set loss. Stanford’s last match loss came at UCLA in its penultimate 2010 regular-season contest, a five-set loss on April 16.
In all, Stanford plays 20 of its 27 regular-season matches against teams currently ranked in the Top 15. Among the other matches, one is against Cal Baptist (No. 1 in the 2010 NAIA rankings), two are against UC Santa Cruz (No. 2 in 2010 Division III), and two are against UC San Diego (receiving the most votes among nonranked teams in the current Div. I-II poll).
Stanford embarks on a typically difficult conference schedule. Ten of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation’s 12 teams are ranked among the AVCA Top 15. Broken down even further, all 10 are among the top 12 and the MPSF holds the top seven spots in the rankings, with USC currently holding the No. 1 spot.
Stanford returns two AVCA and Volleyball Magazine first-team All-Americans:
• Brad Lawson, jr., OH, Honolulu. Last year, Lawson set the Stanford single-season record for kills in the rally-scoring era, with 522. He was named the NCAA Tournament’s co-Most Outstanding Player alongside teammate Kawika Shoji, and was the MPSF’s Player of the Year.
• Erik Shoji, jr., L, Honolulu. Shoji has earned first-team All-America honors in each of his first two seasons at Stanford. One match into this season, Shoji is second on the Stanford career list in total digs (822), and entered the season with a career digs per game average of 3.67, the highest career total in school history by more than 1.0.
This Weekend’s Opponent: BYU
Any thought that this might be a transition season under a first-year head coach were put to rest on the opening weekend. The Cougars won all three matches at the eight-team Gaucho Invitational, an event that featured six Top 15 teams and seven teams from the MPSF. BYU beat Cal Baptist and Long Beach State before beating UC Santa Barbara in a four-set final. Freshman Taylor Sander had 16 kills against UCSB on the way to being named tournament MVP and MPSF Player of the Week. BYU, which lost in an epic five-set MPSF semifinal to Cal State Northridge at Maples Pavilion last season, is being coached on an interim basis by Rob Neilson, the team’s starting setter in 2005-06.
The BYU Series
Stanford split a two-match set at BYU early last season. The Cardinal got seven kills from reserve Garrett Dobbs after outside hitter Spencer McLachlin was lost to injury in the second of those two matches, a 20-30, 35-33, 30-28, 30-27 battle in which Stanford fought off four BYU set points in the pivotal second set. BYU just missed playing Stanford for the MPSF tournament title by losing to Cal State Northridge in a five-set semifinal at Maples Pavilion. BYU holds a 24-13 all-time series lead. The teams have split each of the past three years.
Stanford opened its season with a 28-26, 25-17, 25-14 victory over UC Santa Cruz of NCAA’s Division III on Wednesday at Burnham Pavilion. Stanford got off to a slow start and fell behind 14-7. The Cardinal trailed 24-21 and faced three set points, including at 25-24. But Stanford fought them off with (in order), a UCSC serving error and net violation, and a Charley Henrikson kill. Setter Evan Barry finished the Banana Slugs with a kill off a free ball. Stanford had much less trouble in the final two sets, with Jake Vandermeer coming off the bench to serve four consecutive points to build a 21-11 third-set lead.
Stanford has won its past 13 matches at Maples Pavilion, and was 15-1 there last year.