The No. 13 Stanford men’s volleyball team kicks off its 2016 season on the road, facing off against No. 14 Ball State this Friday and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) on on Saturday.
While the 2015 Cardinal missed the postseason for the first time since 2007 in what was thought of as a rebuilding year, the transition period is over. The team returns two All-Americans in senior middle blocker Conrad Kaminski and senior setter James Shaw. Shaw missed much of last season with lingering injuries, and this year he looks to improve upon his already impressive 10.20 assists per set on his career.
Kaminski and Shaw are joined by freshmen outside hitters Jordan Ewert and Ryan Smith, both of whom were named AVCA First-Team High School All-Americans. Three other players – setter Russell Dervay, outside hitter Matt Klassen and middle Chris Moore – round out the Cardinal’s 2016 freshman class.
The Cardinal began the 2016 preseason exhibition matches against the University of Saskatchewan last week. Although Stanford lost the first set on both days, it finished strong, winning three in a row to take both matches 3-1. Kaminski hit .821 and Shaw directed the offense with 10 assists per set. As the regular season commences, the Cardinal’s senior class will look to contribute similarly strong performances.
After going 13-16 in 2015, the Ball State Cardinals return several key players who hope to make an impact this season. Senior setter Hiago Garchet ranked 15th nationally in assists last season, registering 9.68 per set.
Sophomore middle attacker Matt Walsh is coming off a stint with the U.S. Men’s National Team in the fall and was also named to the 2016 Preseason All-MIVA Team. He was No. 3 in the nation in blocks per set last season and will look to bring more high-caliber play this season.
While the IPFW Mastodons are currently unranked, they received four votes for the AVCA Coaches Poll Top 15. They finished 18-12 in 2015, but this will be the Mastodons’ first season under the direction of new head coach Ryan “Rock” Perrotte, after the retirement of 35-year head coach Arnie Ball.
Senior libero Luis Bertran was ranked sixth last season with 2.56 digs per set, and he was recently named Preseason Libero of the Year. Both Bertran and redshirt senior opposite Andrew Sellan were named to the Preseason All-MIVA Team.
Stanford takes on Ball State on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and IPFW on Saturday at 4 p.m. The latter will be streamed live on GoMastodons.com.
Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.