Nov. 17, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. -
Stanford has landed one of the nation's best men's volleyball recruiting classes, with four top-flight players - including two from well-known volleyball families - signing letters of intent to join the Cardinal for the 2013 season, coach John Kosty announced.
The class is comprised of Joe Ctvrtlik (Newport Beach, Calif.), James Shaw (Woodside, Calif.), Alex Stephanus (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), and Gabriel Vega (Kailua, Hawaii).
"These young men bring the qualities we truly celebrate at Stanford University: Integrity, passion, excellence, incredible citizenship, and athleticism," Kosty said. "This class has the intrinsic values that are at the core of our program."
The class features two setters who are sons of former Hall of Fame players, and two others whose volleyball careers have risen quickly.
Ctvrtlik, a setter for Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, is the son of Bob Ctvrtlik, a two-time world volleyball player of the year, a two-time Olympic medalist who captured gold in 1988, a three-time Olympian, and U.S. national-team captain.
Joe led Corona del Mar to the CIF Southern California Regional Division II championship and a No. 1 national finish by ESPN Rise last season as a junior. Ctvrtlik also is the top setter for the Balboa Bay Volleyball Club 18 Quiksilver team, a perennial powerhouse in the junior club national championships. He also was a 2011 All-Orange County honorable mention selection.
"Joe comes from a rich family tradition in the sport and is no stranger to success," Kosty said. "He is a fearless player that possesses a tremendous IQ for the game. He has great technique as a setter and is a leader. We are lucky to have this young man as part of our team."
Shaw is a 6-foot-7 setter/hitter for nearby St. Francis High School of Mountain View and the son of Don Shaw, a former Stanford men's and women's coach who led the Cardinal women to four NCAA championships. Don Shaw, a member of the AVCA Hall of Fame, was inducted last week into the Stanford Hall. James's sister, Jordan, is a sophomore on the Saint Mary's College team.
James Shaw was a member of the USA Boys Youth National team that competed at the FIVB World Youth Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina in August. He also is a member of the Mountain View Volleyball Club and won a bronze medal at the 2011 USA Junior National Championships, earning all-tournament honors.
At St. Francis, James was an All-West Catholic Athletic League first-team choice as a junior and was named the Santa Clara County Sophomore and Junior of the Year by the San Jose Mercury News. Kosty said Shaw possesses a tremendous amount of athletic ability and great instincts. Kosty also says he is unique in the ability to dominate at the net, but with strong defensive abilities in the back court. Shaw is skilled at leading the team as a setter or hitter.
Stephanus is a middle-blocker/right-side hitter from Vistamar High School in El Segundo, Calif., and was a member of the Southern California Volleyball Club's 17 Quiksilver side that won the gold medal at the 2011 U.S. Junior National Championships, earning all-tournament honors. Stephanus has had a meteoric rise as a volleyball player since first starting the sport just two years ago.
He was an All-CIF Southern Section and Santa Fe League first-team selection for Vistamar. Kosty describes Stephanus a strong athlete with great lateral quickness and explosiveness and a tremendous arm. And being a relative newcomer to the sport, he has a huge upside.
"It is remarkable how far Alex has come in just a short time," Kosty said. "A year ago, he wasn't on anybody's radar. Now he has a national championship at the junior club level and is poised to make an impact at the next level. Alex has worked extremely hard to get to Stanford and will grow to become an outstanding player for the Cardinal over his college career."
The 6-7 Vega is an outside hitter/right-side hitter for Iolani School in Honolulu, the same school that produced current Cardinal players Brad Lawson, a two-time first-team All-American, and sophomore Scott Sakaida, as well as Stanford's 2010 AVCA National Player of the Year Kawika Shoji.
Vega played club ball for Kuikahi Volleyball Club and will join Outrigger VBC for his senior year. He earned recognition as an Interscholastic League of Hawaii all-star and was selected to the 2011 Hawaii All-State Fab 15 team.
He was selected to the 2011 USA junior national championship all-tournament team in the 17 and under division. Vega has a good vertical jump and brings an intimidating presence to the net. Kosty calls Vega one of the top hitters in the nation, and one who is just realizing his potential. A lifelong basketball player, Vega remains fairly new to volleyball and only in the past year did he surface as a legitimate college prospect.
"Gabriel is a strong athlete with good size," Kosty said. "He has grown into a dominant player in the Hawaii interscholastic league, which is one of the top breeding grounds for great volleyball players. He has a tremendous upside and will be a wonderful collegiate player. As with all of our Stanford players he also brings so much more to our program than a volleyball resume. We are very blessed to have Gabriel Vega join our team."
In all, Kosty feels the Cardinal has landed a very strong class.
"We have done well in filling our needs for the next several years," he said. "We expect that these four young men will have a great impact in our goal to win another national championship."
The Cardinal begins its 2012 season in Maples Pavilion on January 6 with the first of two exhibitions against Thompson Rivers of Canada. Stanford's regular season and MPSF opener is Jan. 11 at Pacific.