The Stanford Men's Club Volleyball team returned Sunday from the NIRSA (National Intercollegiate Recreational Sports Association) National Championships, which took place in Dallas, Texas after finishing 19th in the Division I tournament. (Please see Web Link for complete results.) The Cardinal crew, coached by Peter Yee and Theresa Carey, was seeded to finish in the bottom third, but prevailed to beat their initial seeding and wind up in the Top 20 nationally.
Since few universities have official intercollegiate men's volleyball teams -- there are only 22 men's Division I NCAA-sanctioned teams compared to over 300 women's teams -- the NIRSA tournament is the largest venue for men's college volleyball in the country. 48 teams compete in Division I with another 36 in I-AA, 48 in Division II, and 24 in Division III. The three days of the tournament feature fierce competition, and there is a waiting list for teams that want to attend, but are turned away due to capacity.
The highlight of the weekend was the Cardinal's win over defending champion University of Wisconsin-Osh Kosh on Saturday afternoon. Stanford won the first set, 25-21, but Osh Kosh would not go away quietly. The second set turned into a 40-minute battle, featuring 6 Osh Kosh set points and 3 Stanford match points before Stanford put it away with a score of 35-33. This match attracted one of the larger crowds of the day, including the enthusiastic support of the Stanford women's club volleyball team.
During their first match of the tournament, Stanford challenged the eventual Division I champions, Lakeland College (Wisconsin), in pool play. In addition to Osh Kosh and Lakeland, Stanford also competed with the University of Maryland, University of Missouri, Naval Academy, Cal Poly, University of Santa Clara, Northern Illinois and the University of Minnesota over the three days of tournament play.
Key players for the Cardinal were setter Matt Sahagun, libero Evan Huck, outside hitters Andy Price, Darren Moore, Guillermo Vargas and Danny Koelker, as well as middle hitters Greg Newman and Daniel Becker. Walter Foxworth stepped in to provide numerous defensive plays, as did Peter Kardassakis. Middle hitter Jayson Morgan and outside hitters Kevin Scott, Matt Hill and Kent Anderson generated points for the Cardinal as well. (club website: Web Link)
The league in which Stanford plays, the Northern California Collegiate Volleyball League, was among the most successful at the tournament. Six teams finished in the Top 20 nationally (CSU Fresno, Cal Poly, Cal, University of Santa Clara and UC Davis). Chico State won the Division I-AA championship, and Sonoma State was the runner-up in Division II. The tough competition all season long gets every member of the NCCVL ready to play at nationals.
And so the men's club team wraps up its third, and most successful year in club history. Stanford students with volleyball experience are encouraged to join the team when school resumes in the fall. In the meantime, there will be informal open gyms at Burnham Pavilion on Tuesday nights starting at 8:30PM.