Incoming Stanford freshmen Jordan Ewert and Ryan Smith helped lead Pacific Rim to the 18 Open title at the 2015 Boys' Junior National Championships on the Fourth of July in front of more than 1,500 fans at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.
"It was incredible," said Smith. "All of our hard work and training paid off. It was also a validation of our victory the previous year."
Pacific Rim came away with the championship after defeating HBC 18 Black, 25-21, 25-19, in a highly anticipated match between two undefeated squads from California, and it wasn't the first time the teams had met.
"We had lost to them (HBC) three times this year," Pacific Rim head coach Roger Worsley told USA Volleyball after the match. "Each time it was just a matter of taking what we did and what HBC did and learning from it. It was a process. It was not just one week of practice. We had been building up to this. They had gotten the better of us three times prior, but we knew each time were closing in on them."
Ewert, who was named to the all-tournament team, and Smith have played together for Pacific Rim for the past two years, winning two national championships.
"Jordan is an outstanding player not only at the club level, but the international level as well," explained Smith. "He has proven himself to be a top-notch player by adapting to the different situations that the game throws at him. Being on his team these past two years, I have been able to grow by observing him play the game so skillfully.
"He has been supportive of me ever since joining the team and his advice has helped me to work my way to becoming the best player that I can be."
Lucky for Stanford fans, the pair will continue to compete together next year on The Farm. Their time spent with Pacific Rim undoubtedly will help them transition to the collegiate game.
"The more experience that I have under my belt the more equipped I will be for the next level, especially experience from playing against such competitive teams at the USAV junior national tournament," stated Smith. "Though you cannot compare the top players at the club level to the top collegiate players, playing against them gets me closer to the competition that I will soon face."
Other players in the tournament who will be on the Stanford campus this fall were Matt Klassen with Milwaukee VBC (9th), Russell Dervay with Coastal VBC (11th) and Chris Moore with Ocean Bay VBC (31st).
Stanford field hockey rising sophomore Sarah Helgeson and incoming freshman Jordan Barry were named the Team USA U21 and U19 rosters, as announced recently by USA Field Hockey.
The duo earned roster spots after being selected for Junior National Camp in Lancaster, Pa. They will pursue positions on their respective teams to competing at next year's Junior Pan American Games in Trinidad and Tobago.
Helgeson had a strong freshman campaign with Stanford, earning NorPac All-Tournament Team honors and appearing in all 22 games. She was a three-sport standout athlete in high school, playing field hockey, basketball and track and field, and is one of the fastest Cardinal players.
Barry had an illustrious high school career that included three NFHCA All-America honors (2012-13), three NFHCA All-South selections, three All-State awards and was a two-time Conference Player of the Year.
The pair will play together at Stanford this fall as the Cardinal begins its 17-game schedule Aug. 28 against Syracuse.
Stanford registered the most successful season in school history and continued to establish itself as one of the nation's elite programs during 2014.
The Cardinal claimed its first NCAA Tournament victory in program history, recorded a 19-3 record and achieved a program-high No. 3 national ranking for three consecutive weeks (Oct. 14-Nov. 2). Stanford went 4-1 against top-10 opponents and 6-2 against the top 20.
The Cardinal returns 15 letterwinners and added five freshmen for the 2015 campaign.