April 25, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The Stanford men's volleyball team needs two victories this weekend to secure an automatic NCAA tournament berth. However, the task promises to be difficult with the nation's top four ranked teams all in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation semifinals at USC's Galen Center.
The No. 2-seeded Cardinal (21-6) plays No. 3 BYU (24-6) on Thursday at 5 p.m., followed by No. 1 USC (23-4) against No. 4 UC Irvine (22-5) at 7:30.
The long NCAA at-large berth will almost assuredly be awarded to an MPSF team, adding to the intrigue involving the tournament. Simply advancing to the MPSF final may not be enough to secure that berth.
For Stanford, every match could be the last for two of the greatest players in Cardinal history: libero Erik Shoji and outside hitter Brad Lawson, who have combined for five first-team All-America honors, pending this year's honors.
Thursday, 7 p.m.: No. 3-ranked Stanford (21-6) vs. No. 4 BYU (24-6), at USC's Galen Center.
Click here for the free Webcast. Click here for live stats.
TV Coverage: The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv. In the Bay Area, the match will be on Comcast 228 and AT&T 567. The match will be simulcast online on BYUtv.org.
The MPSF Tournament: Here are the pairings, with seeds, for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament, which should determine two slots -- one automatic, one at-large -- for the four-team NCAA tournament on May 3-5 at USC's Galen Center.
• April 21: MPSF Quarterfinals at home sites of higher seeds
No. 1 USC d. No. 8 Cal State Northridge, 25-13, 25-15, 25-18
No. 4 UC Irvine d. No. 5 UCLA, 25-14, 23-25, 25-16, 25-23
No. 3 BYU d. No. 6 Long Beach State, 25-23, 25-14, 20-25, 21-25, 15-7
No. 2 Stanford d. No. 7 Pepperdine, 25-23, 25-17, 23-25, 25-17
• April 26: Semifinals at USC
No. 3 BYU (24-6) vs. No. 2 Stanford (21-6), 5 p.m.
No. 4 UC Irvine (22-5) at No. 1 USC (23-4), 7:30 p.m.
• April 28: Championship at USC
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.
Stanford's Playoff History: Stanford has won two national championships, in 1997 and 2010, and has reached the NCAA championship four times. Also, in 19 years of the MPSF tournament, Stanford has won twice. However, this is only the third time since 1995 that the Cardinal has advanced past the first round, and the previous two resulted in titles (1997, 2010).
Playoff History vs. BYU: This will be the fifth postseason meeting between the Cardinal and BYU, and the first since 2002. Their postseason series is tied at 2-2, with all four coming in the MPSF tournament - three in the first round or round-robin play.
• 1994 MPSF Tournament (round robin at Stanford):
Stanford d. BYU, 13-15, 15-12, 16-14, 15-6
• 1995 MPSF Tournament (first round at Stanford):
BYU d. Stanford, 5-15, 11-15, 15-10, 15-13, 16-14
• 1997 MPSF Tournament (semifinals at Stanford):
Stanford d. BYU, 16-14, 16-14, 17-15
• 2002 MPSF Tournament (first round at BYU):
BYU d. Stanford, 30-24, 30-23, 24-30, 29-31, 21-19
Thursday's Opponent, BYU: In Stanford's early-season victories in Provo, on Feb. 3-4, the Cardinal did not face the Cougars' top hitter, Taylor Sander, who was out with an injury. Stanford won the first in four (25-21, 20-25, 25-20, 25-18) with the help of Brian Cook's 20 kills, and followed with a close sweep (35-33, 25-23, 25-22). Of the latter, Brad Lawson had eight of his match-high 14 kills in a marathon first set that seemed to set the tone for the rest of the match. Both teams combined to fight off 10 set points - BYU withstood seven and Stanford three - before a block by Lawson and Gus Ellis finished it off before 4,524 at Smith Fieldhouse.
Stanford's Recent Play: The Cardinal got 22 kills from Brad Lawson, and a spectacular dig/assist by Erik Shoji to highlight its first-round 25-23, 25-17, 23-25, 25-17 victory over Pepperdine on Saturday at Maples Pavilion. The victory was the sixth consecutive for Stanford, which is 18-3 in sets during that span. Stanford is 7-1 since resuming its season following a 22-day break at the end of the winter quarter. Before its current winning streak, Stanford struggled in a 3-4 stretch, with a 2-3 record going into the break.
Stanford Records This Year:
• Brad Lawson broke the Stanford career rally-scoring era record for kills on Saturday. Lawson has 1,788 kills, breaking the mark of 1,781 held by Evan Romero (2007-10). Including the sideout-scoring era, Lawson is No. 5 all-time at Stanford:
1. Matt Fuerbringer (1994-97) 2,221
2. Mike Lambert (1993-97) 2,083
3. Dave Goss (1990-93) 1,976
4. Curt Toppel (2000-03) 1,840
5. Brad Lawson (2009-2012) 1,788
• Gus Ellis broke the Stanford career rally-scoring era record for total blocks earlier this season, breaking the mark of 369 held by Garrett Werner (2007-10). Ellis' 384 ranks fourth in all eras. Here is the list:
1. Mike Hoefer (1994-97) 517
2. Keenan Whitehurst (1995-98) 472
3. Scott Fortune (1985-89) 402
4. Gus Ellis (2009-2012) 384
• Erik Shoji has the digs record of 1,375. That is by far the most of any era at Stanford.
• Lawson recently broke the record for career aces for all eras, previously held by Duncan Blackman (1989-92). Lawson has 126.
Winningest Senior Class: The Cardinal class of 2012 is the winningest class in program history, with a four-year record of 85-32 (.726). The class of Evan Barry, Gus Ellis, Charley Henrikson, Dylan Kordic, Brad Lawson, Erik Shoji, and Jake Vandermeer broke the mark of 81 victories.
Here are the top four Stanford volleyball classes, by number of victories:
Class of 2012: 85-32 (.726).
Class of 2011: 81-36 (.692); Ian Connolly, Garrett Dobbs, Jordan Inafuku, Max Halvorson, and Spencer McLachlin.
Class of 1995: 80-26 (.755); only senior, Brian Garrett.
Class of 1997: 80-28 (.741); top seniors: Stewart Chong, Matt Fuerbringer, Mike Lambert.
All-Conference: Stanford had five players to receive All-MPSF honors this season. Here is the list:
First team: Brad Lawson, OH, sr.; Erik Shoji, L, sr.
Second team: Evan Barry, S, sr.; Brian Cook, Opp., so.
Honorable mention: Eric Mochalski, MB, so.
Stanford in National Rankings
Team (MPSF in parentheses)
AVCA Top 15: No. 3
Assists per set: 1st, 13.26 (1st)
Kills per set: 1st, 13.96 (1st)
Hitting Percentage: 2nd, .343 (2nd)
Win-Loss percentage: 7th .778
Aces Per Set: 11th, 1.16 (4th)
Digs per set: 11th, 9.21 (1st)
Stanford in National Rankings
Individual (MPSF rankings in parentheses)
Assists per set: Evan Barry, 1st, 12.04 (1st)
Digs per set: Erik Shoji, 3rd, 2.66 (4th)
Kills per set: Brad Lawson, 4th, 4.07 (3rd)
Hitting percentage: Brad Lawson, 9th, .335
Aces per set: Brad Lawson, 12th, 0.39 (7th)
• Fifth-year senior Charley Henrikson has been part of 102 victories while at Stanford, making him Stanford's first 100-victory player. Charley earned his undergraduate degree in economics last year, and on April 5, finished his master's in public policy. He will begin his job as an economic consultant as soon as the season is over.
• Erik Shoji has been described by coach John Kosty as the "greatest libero in collegiate volleyball history." He should pick up his fourth first-team All-America honor this week. No player in Stanford history has done that.
• Evan Barry teamed with USC's Tony Ciarelli, the 2012 MPSF Player of the Year, at the Junior World Beach Volleyball Championships in Turkey in 2010. They reached the quarterfinals.
• Brad Lawson is an accomplished musician and singer. He has sung the national anthem at Stanford women's basketball and volleyball games. His favorite style is Hawaiian reggae. After a professional volleyball career overseas, he would like to explore a career in the music production business.