Stanford men's volleyball head coach John Kosty has announced the signing of three prep standouts to National Letters of Intent. Jordan Ewert (Antioch), Matt Klassen (Milwaukee, Wis.), and Ryan Smith (Clovis) will join the Cardinal in the fall of 2015.
"We feel fortunate to sign these three outstanding scholar-athletes," said Kosty, who is in his ninth season at the helm of the program. "They give us a trio of outside hitters that will have a large impact in the MPSF. More importantly, they are true Stanford students and embody everything that we look for in terms of work ethic, great citizenship, and love of the Stanford culture."
A 6-foot-4 outside hitter out of Deer Valley High, Ewert has been an integral part of the success of the USA High Performance program. A member of the pipeline for three years, he guided his teams to gold medals in each of the last two summers. In 2013, Ewert was named the MVP of the USA HP Championships as he led his USA Select Red team to first place in the International Division. In 2014, he became a starter for the USA Boys Youth National Team and was named the best receiver at the NORCECA Continental Championships. That squad became only the third USA Youth team to win a gold in program history.
"Jordan has proven that he is one of the top high school players in the nation," noted Kosty. "He is a highly skilled athlete that can do just about anything on the court. He possesses wonderful instincts for the game, but more importantly he knows how to win. What makes Jordan great is his ability to play big in the biggest moments. He has the chance to make a significant impact for us."
Ewert has also had tremendous success in junior club play. A longtime member of Pacific Rim Volleyball Club, he was named to the 17 & under all-tournament team at the U.S. Junior National Championships as his team captured gold.
Klassen is a 6-6 outside hitter/opposite from Brookfield East High. He was a Greater Metro Conference first-team selection during his junior year as he led his team to an appearance in the state championship semifinal. He was also a key figure on the West Allis Lightning 17-U club team that finished in 10th place at the U.S. Junior National Championships.
"Matt is a physical hitter with size that will do well at the next level," explained Kosty. "He is strong, jumps well, and hits a heavy ball. He has a very high ceiling and is a great recruit for us. Matt is the type of outside hitter that we love recruiting. He has great versatility and can play the opposite hitter position or one of the outside hitter positions. Whichever he ends up playing, he will be a person who will be able to score points for us."
A teammate of Ewert on the Pacific Rim squad, Smith is another versatile perimeter hitter with great experience from Buchanan High. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, he moved to central California to gain greater growth in the sport. A 6-7 outside hitter/opposite, Smith was a one of the key players for his high school squad which won the Central Section last season, and was ranked third in the nation by MaxPreps.com. In the summer of 2013, he teamed with Ewert on the USA Select Red team to win the gold medal at the 2013 U.S. High Performance Championships against national and international teams. He also won gold at the 2014 U.S. Junior National Championships with the Pacific Rim 17-U club team.
"Ryan has unbelievable determination and has shown that he is willing to take big chances to reach his goal," said Kosty. "He has grown quite a bit in height, which gives him the potential to be a dominant net presence. He already possesses a live arm and good jumping ability. He has been used primarily at the passing outside hitter position, but is versatile enough to play opposite as well. We believe that Ryan will be a difference-maker for us.
"The modern men's volleyball game has become very outside hitter focused," added Kosty. "To be successful at our level, the outside hitters must take on a heavy burden of passing, serving, defending and attacking out of the front and back rows. With the signing of Jordan, Matt and Ryan, in addition to the players currently on our roster, we feel we have the pieces needed to be successful. We expect that these young men will help us vie for an NCAA title while performing at an exceptionally high level in the classroom and the community."
Cardinal head coach Anne Walker announced last week the signing of Sierra Kersten (Spokane, Wash./Lewis and Clark) and Albane Valenzuela (Ecole Moser/Vesenaz, Switzerland), who will continue their academic and athletic careers at Stanford beginning in the fall of 2015.
"We are thrilled with our 2015 signees and believe that they will continue to add depth to our squad," Walker said. "They both appreciate Stanford University and the unique, diverse and exceptional culture that can be found on campus, but at the same time, they are motivated and excited to help our program pursue an NCAA title."
"Sierra is an established player in the Northwest, and received recognition as Washington's 2013 and 2014 state player of the year," Walker said. "She was also medalist in the 2013 and 2014 state championship, losing in a playoff in 2014. She has competed in several events up and down the West Coast, as well as United States Junior Girls Championship. Academically, Sierra is at the top of her class. She brings a work ethic, passion and commitment to Stanford that will only make us stronger as a team. We can't wait to start working with her on campus."
"We are excited to add Albane to our roster," added Walker. "Although she was born in New York, she has spent most of her life in Switzerland and is currently the Swiss international champion. Ranked 85th in the world, Albane has represented her country many times, and most recently competed in the Ladies European Tour French Open, finishing ninth. We are very pleased that Albane chose Stanford because she is a great addition to the campus and our team. Albane attends one of Switzerland's most renowned high schools, and at the same time, competes at the highest level in golf. She will undoubtedly transition smoothly into life at Stanford."
One year after signing the top-rated recruiting class in the nation, first-year coach Paul Goldstein signed two more blue chip players this year in Michael Genender and Sameer Kumar, both of whom announced their decisions on their own.
Stanford could be in line for another top player as the early signing period draws to a close.
Two of the nation's top 10 players signed with Stanford last week, and the Cardinal is waiting decisions from other players.
No. 7 Caroline Lampl from Virginia and No. 9 Melissa Lord of Connecticut signed.
Lampl announced her decision through tennisrecruiting.net, while Lord has it posted on her Twitter page.
According to the Contra Costa Times, Stanford baseball signed Nico Hoerner of Head Royce and Nick Oar of College Park, women's crew signed Carondelet's Lindy Clute, and synchronized swimming signed Campolindo's Gillian Brasil.
Pole vaulter Kaitlyn Merritt was the first athlete to formally sign a letter for the Cardinal track and field team as announced through Twitter by the Stanford track and field program.