NCAA Men's Volleyball Countdown: No. 9 Stanford

NCAA Men's Volleyball Countdown: No. 9 Stanford
Photo: Stanford Athletics
FloVolleyball is excited to introduce our NCAA Men's Countdown, ranking the top 10 collegiate men's volleyball teams in the country leading up to the start of the 2017 season. 

The No. 9 spot goes to Stanford this year, and here's why: 

The Upshot


Last year's surprise team must find a way to replace three departed All-Americans.  

Last Season


19-6 overall, 17-5 in MPSF (tied for second place)
0-1 in MPSF Tournament (lost 3-2 vs UC Santa Barbara)
Final 2016 RPI: 5
Team Hitting Percentage: .336 (#3 in NCAA)
Team Blocks Per Set: 2.71 (#4)

The Players


RETURNING STARS
Evan Enriques | 6-foot-2 | Junior | Libero
2.53 digs/set; (#11 in NCAA)
Kevin Rakestraw | 7-0 | Redshirt Junior | Middle Blocker
1.60 kills/set; .489; 1.00 blocks/set
Gabriel Vega | 6-7 | Senior | Opposite
2.87 kills/set; .273; 0.72 blocks/set

PROMISING NEWCOMERS
Paul Bischoff | 6-5 | Freshman | Setter
Eric Beatty | 6-7 | Freshman | Outside Hitter
Mason Tufuga | 6-5 | Freshman | Opposite
Eli Wopat | 6-5 | Freshman | Opposite
Stephen Moye | 6-9 | Freshman | Middle Blocker

BIGGEST LOSSES
James Shaw | 6-8 | Setter
10.12 assists/set (#12 in NCAA); 0.35 aces/set (#21)
Conrad Kaminski | 6-8 | Middle Blocker
2.29 kills/set, .478 (#2 in NCAA); 1.45 blocks/set (#1)
Madison Hayden | 6-3 | Outside Hitter
3.47 kills/set (#26 in NCAA); .320 (#24); 0.52 blocks/set  

Nonconference Matches to Watch


January 13-14 vs. Ohio State

Outlook


Stanford coach John Kosty (11th season) led last season's most surprising team, as the Cardinal vaulted from low expectations to a season-ending RPI of No. 5. This year, he'll try to repeat that success without the leadership of three key graduated players: middle blocker Conrad Kaminski, outside hitter Madison Hayden, and especially setter James Shaw. "Certain people," Kosty said, "are impossible to replace. Shaw is one of those people." Among the setter candidates are Kyle Dagostino, who has also played libero; last season's backup, sophomore Russell Dervay; and 6-5 freshman Paul Bischoff. "Bischoff has an incredible upside," Kosty said. Seven-footer Kevin Rakestraw has impressed in the middle; Kosty thinks he has "the potential to be very dominant." MB2 will be either 6-5 sophomore Chris Moore or one of two freshmen: 6-9 Stephen Moye or 6-6 Jacob Thoenen. Pin hitter candidates include last season's opposite, Gabriel Vega, who is now recovering from surgery, plus 6-7 senior Clay Jones and 6-3 Colin McCall. Kosty said he's coached two tremendous liberos during his time on The Farm. Olympian Eric Shoji "revolutionized the position" and now All-American junior Evan Enriques is carrying on that tradition.

Prediction


After last season's disappointing flameout in the MPSF tournament, Stanford's fortunes may ride on whomever earns the setter's job. The Cardinal could surprise.

FloVolleyball NCAA Men's Volleyball Countdown


10. USC
9. Stanford
8-1. Check back each day to see the complete rankings!


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