THIS WEEK: No. 9 Stanford (13-12, 8-10 MPSF) travels to No. 3 BYU (23-3, 16-2) for an MPSF quarterfinal match on Saturday at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Live stats for the match can be found on the men’s volleyball schedule page on GoStanford.com. The match will be televised on BYUtv and can be heard on Sirius XM 143.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Fans have access to unique behind-the-scenes content on the team by liking Stanford Men’s Volleyball on Facebook or following the team on Twitter (@StanfordMVB) and Instagram (@therealstanfordmvb).
SCOUTING THE COUGARS: BYU has won 17 of its last 18 matches, and tied Long Beach State for first in the MPSF with a 16-2 conference record. The no. 2 seed, the Cougars are second in the league in aces (1.64), third in blocks (2.55) and opponent hitting percentage (.237) and fourth in kills (13.25) and assists (12.45). Senior Jake Langlois is fourth in the MPSF in aces (0.56), fifth in points (4.76) and eighth in kills (3.86). Junior libero Erik Sikes paces the MPSF with 2.57 digs, while junior Price Jarman is fourth in hitting percentage (.476) and 11th in blocks (0.99).
LAST TIME OUT: Stanford split its road matches last week, falling at No. 5 UC Irvine in four before sweeping UC San Diego. Freshman setter Paul Bischoff dished out 12.29 assists per set, while redshirt senior Gabriel Vega recorded 5.14 kills and 1.57 digs per set in the two matches.
PLAYOFF SPOTS: Stanford garnered the No. 7 seed in the MPSF Tournament after tying for sixth place in the standings with Pepperdine and USC at 8-10. The Cardinal lost out to Pepperdine on points vs. the group (310-318), but after the tiebreaker then revered back to head-to-head for the remaining tied teams, Stanford beat out USC (1-1 head-on matches, 3-3 sets, 137-131 head-to-head points).
IT’S OUR ANNIVERSARY: The 2017 season marks the 20th anniversary of Stanford’s first NCAA championship team. The 1997 squad brought home the title for the Cardinal in its third appearance in the finals. To finish off a 15-7, 15-10, 9-15, 6-15, 15-13 victory over UCLA in the NCAA final, Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Hoefer combined for a block to deliver the championship in Columbus, Ohio. Mike Lambert had 27 kills, Andy Witt 19, and Keenan Whitehurst had 17 kills, nine blocks and a .617 hitting percentage. Lambert was named MVP of the NCAA Final Four and Whitehurst was named to the all-tournament team.
IN THE POLL: Stanford remained at No. 9 in the AVCA Division I-II Men’s Coaches Poll this week after splitting its final regular season matches. The Cardinal is one of nine MPSF squads to appear in the top 15.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Stanford ranks 13th nationally with 12.19 kills per set, while also appearing in the top 20 as a team in digs (8.77), assists (11.52) and blocks (2.16) per set. Individually, Kevin Rakestraw’s .439 hitting percentage is third in the nation, while junior Evan Enriques is 10th with 2.42 digs per set.
FILLING THE VOID: Stanford graduated 55 percent of its offensive output from last season, leaving holes that need to be filled. Redshirt senior Gabriel Vega is leading the Cardinal this season with 260 kills (3.10 kps), while sophomore Jordan Ewert has tallied 198 total kills (3.60 kps) in just 55 sets played. Kevin Rakestraw is third on the team with 193 kills (2.19 kps) as a middle.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore outside hitter Jordan Ewert was selected as the FloVolleyball and MPSF Players of the Week on Feb. 13. The Antioch, California native averaged 4.80 klls and 5.05 points per set on .301 hitting against then-No. 4 UCLA and No. 12 UC Santa Barbara. He set a career-high in kills against UCLA (22) and then surpassed it versus UCSB (26). It marked the first weekly honors for Ewert’s career and the Cardinal’s lone honor of the season.
TOP-RANKED CLASS: Freshmen Eric Beatty (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Paul Bischoff (Wheaton, Ill.) were named AVCA First Team High School All-Americans. Stanford was one of three teams nationally with two selections to the first team. Jacob Thoenen (St. Charles, Mo.) and Eli Wopat (Santa Barbara, Calif.) earned second team honors, while Stephen Moye (El Segundo, Calif.) and Mason Tufuga (Costa Mesa, Calif.) round out the Cardinal’s freshman class, which was rated No. 1 in the nation by VolleyballMag.com.
OFF THE BLOCK PRESEASON RECOGNITION: Evan Enriques was the first winner of the Erik Shoji Award, given to the nation’s top libero by Off The Block after the 2016 season. The junior was named a first team preseason All-American by the site, which collected votes from head coaches around the nation. Additionally, Jordan Ewert, Kevin Rakestraw, Gabriel Vega and Paul Bischoff all received votes.
COACHES POLL: Stanford was picked to finish seventh in the MPSF by the league’s coaches. BYU garnered nine-first place votes and was picked to be the champion. UCLA, which collected three first-place votes, came in second followed by Long Beach State.
2016 RECAP: Stanford (19-6, 17-5 MPSF) may have surprised some people at the start of the 2016 season, winning seven of its first eight matches (including five on the road). However, with a healthy James Shaw quarterbacking the offense and veteran players in key positions, the Cardinal had high expectations for the season. After being picked to finish eighth by the MPSF coaches, Stanford tied for second in the league and produced five All-MPSF selections, including Shaw being tabbed the Player of the Year. The Cardinal also led the nation in 2016 with three AVCA first-team All-Americans.
HEAD COACH JOHN KOSTY: Stanford head coach John Kosty is in his 11th season at the helm of the Cardinal program and his 27th overall on staff. He is 187-127 in his career and has guided Stanford to the 2010 NCAA national championship and the 2014 NCAA finals. The Cardinal has produced a first team AVCA All-America selection in eight of the past nine seasons under Kosty. Stanford has appeared in the MPSF Tournament in nine of Kosty’s 11 seasons (missing out in 2007 and 2015).