Being the defending NCAA champion have provided some additional rewards for the Stanford men's volleyball team, which announced on Wednesday the signing of middle blockers Matt Aiello of San Jose and Spencer Haly of Newport Beach to national letters of intent.
Aiello is a senior at Bellarmine Prep and plays for Bay to Bay Volleyball Club. He was the 2010 Central Coast Section Junior of the Year and a first-team All-CCS player while leading the Bells to the West Catholic Athletic League and CCS Division I titles. Aiello has had club success too, helping his team to national top-10 finishes the past two years, including fifth in 2010.
The 6-foot-6 Haly is a senior three-sport athlete at Corona del Mar High, having played football and basketball in addition to volleyball for the Sea Kings, the same program that produced current Stanford junior middle blocker Gus Ellis.
Haly has helped the Balboa Bay Volleyball Club to two junior national championships, in 2008 and 2009, and was a 2009 Junior Olympic all-tournament selection. At Corona de Mar, Haly was an All-Pacific League first-team choice in 2010, after earning second-team honors as a sophomore.
Stanford coach John Kosty feels the addition of Aiello and Haly fills an important need.
"The middle-blocking position is well-manned with our current group of athletes but that is a position in which we always need more quality depth," said Kosty. "Matt and Spencer are the true embodiment of the Stanford volleyball player -- talented players with great athleticism that are exceptional scholars. Along with those characteristics, you will find that they are outstanding people who will fit in very comfortably with our family."
Stanford, meanwhile, begins defense of its national title on Jan. 5 against visiting UC Santa Cruz at 7 p.m.
Stanford freshman Mateo Vargas was added to the U.S. Youth National training team, joining classmate Oliver Toole among America's top young sailors.
Both athletes, along with head coach John Vandemoer have flown coast to coast over the Thanksgiving break and will head out there again in December to train at Team USA's national headquarters in Miami.
UC Davis sophomore outside hitter Allison Whitson from Palo Alto High earned a berth on the Big West Women's Volleyball All-Conference first team this week.
The conference awards were determined by coaches' vote and based on performance during conference matches.
Whitson, a 2009 honorable mention and All-Freshman pick, led the Aggies with 377 kills and 984 swings while compiling 198 digs and 61 blocks on defense. She also served as one of the team's primary passers. In Big West matches, she ranked fifth in kills per set (3.42) and sixth in points (3.94). Whitson played club ball for City Beach VBC.