2024 First Point Collegiate Challenge

Stanford Men's Volleyball 2024: What To Know

Stanford Men's Volleyball 2024: What To Know

Winner of the most combined national championships of any school, Stanford carries a standard of excellence across all fields, courts and gyms.

Jan 4, 2024 by Briar Napier
Stanford Men's Volleyball 2024: What To Know

Winner of the most combined national championships of any school in the NCAA, Stanford carries a standard of excellence across fields, courts, gyms and anywhere else they field a team. 

The same can be said about the men’s volleyball team, which calls the volleyball-rich state of California home and frequently emerges on top against the best of the best from their own state and beyond. 

The college choice of some of the greatest men’s volleyball players ever to walk the Earth, Stanford, a multi-time national champion, has a tradition and pedigree to which few in collegiate men’s volleyball can hold a candle. 

It has been a few years since the Cardinal could claim a national title in the sport, but with a coach who already has achieved that feat, don’t be shocked if Stanford is standing atop the pile at season’s end once again very, very soon.

Here’s all you need to know about the Stanford men as they push to get back to the top of men’s volleyball in the 2024 season:

What Is The History Of Stanford Men’s Volleyball?

One of the best college programs in volleyball-mad California, Stanford has been fielding a men’s volleyball team since 1985 and hasn’t had as much sustained success as, say, in-state rival UCLA, but the highs for the Cardinal on the court have been oh, so good. 

Numerous first-team AVCA All-Americans have worn the Stanford jersey and thrived on a professional stage later on, leading the Cardinal to top-10 rankings throughout most seasons. 

Eight-time conference champion and five-time national finalist, Stanford men’s volleyball unquestionably is a household name in the sport that has reached its pinnacle on multiple occasions.

Has Stanford Men’s Volleyball Won A National Championship?

Stanford is a two-time national champion in the sport, finally joining its multiple in-state neighbors as those who had climbed college men’s volleyball’s summit in 1997, when the Cardinal outlasted three-peat-seeking UCLA in a five-set thriller. 

After that title, won under legendary coach Ruben Nieves (who left in 2001 as the school’s then all-time wins leader), it took some time for the Cardinal to get back to being the best in the sport – but the wait became very much worth it. 

Following a miserable stretch in 2006 and 2007, in which Stanford trudged to a combined 7-49 record over those two seasons, the Cardinal embarked on one of the best turnarounds you’ll ever see in any college sport, let alone men’s volleyball. 

In 2010, three years removed from being the 11th-best team in its own conference, Stanford won its second national championship (on its home court, no less) by beating Penn State in straight sets, capping off an incredible comeback for a Cardinal program that had hit rock-bottom not long before. 

Who Coaches Stanford Men’s Volleyball?

Longtime Stanford assistant coach John Kosty (who was on Nieves’ staff for the 1997 national title) was promoted to head coach in 2007 following the departure of Don Shaw, a four-time national champion in the 1990s with the Stanford’s women’s volleyball team who couldn’t repeat that same success in a five-season run coaching the men. 

Faced with an uphill battle to get the Cardinal back to being looped in with the nation’s elite – especially after a dreadful 3-25 campaign in his first season – Kosty stayed on course and developed what he had into an eventual national champion, earning him the AVCA National Coach of the Year award, along with the national title, in 2010. 

A national runner-up finish to Loyola Chicago came in 2014, as Stanford has been consistently strong throughout Kosty’s tenure, seeing him be the program’s all-time wins leader with 246 victories as a head coach entering the 2024 season. 

Where Does Stanford Men’s Volleyball Play?

Usually, the volleyball teams at Stanford share Maples Pavilion on campus with both of the school’s basketball teams, competing at a venue that twice has hosted the National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship (2010 and 2015). 

But for a number of matches each year, Stanford men’s volleyball plays at the smaller Burnham Pavilion & Ford Center on campus – usually home to the school’s gymnastics and wrestling squads – as it is scheduled to do three times in 2024. 

Men’s volleyball attendance at Maples can reach four-figure numbers when a strong opponent and/or rival comes to town, especially when Stanford is rolling and seriously pushing for a national championship.

In What League Does Stanford Men’s Volleyball Play?

One of the few sports at Stanford that will not be affected by the Cardinal’s move from the Pac-12 Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2024, men’s volleyball has, and will continue to be (for the foreseeable future), a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, a league that competes in Olympic sports that aren’t directly sponsored by a school’s main conference. 

The seven-team league features in-state foes UCLA, Pepperdine and USC, plus other west-based teams, including BYU and Grand Canyon, and the league is notoriously brutal. 

For instance, during his time as Stanford head coach, Kosty has taken the program to the national championship match (twice) – more times than the Cardinal have won standalone regular-season MPSF titles (once). 

Stanford Men’s Volleyball Notable Alumni

Six former Stanford players have been named first-team AVCA All-Americans at least three times, but only one legendary player did it four times. 

Before he won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and two gold medals (in 2015 and 2023) at the FIVB World Cup with the United States national men’s volleyball team, libero Erik Shoji was flying around the court as a defensive anchor for the Cardinal, winning a national title with the team in 2010 as a sophomore, and finishing as the AVCA’s first four-time first-team All-American – and distinction as arguably the greatest libero in men’s volleyball history. 

Additionally, his brother, setter Kawika Shoji, was the AVCA National Player of the Year during Stanford’s title run in 2010. He was the second Standard player to earn the award, after fellow setter Canyon Ceman did so in 1993. 

Mixed in with the likes of three-time Olympian (and Seoul 1988 gold medalist) Scott Fortune, decorated beach volleyball star Mike Lambert and many others, Stanford has a men’s volleyball alumni list that is rivaled by few others in the collegiate ranks.

First Point Collegiate Challenge Schedule

All Times Central

January 19th

  • 1:30pm – No. 12 USC vs No. 11 Ball State
  • 4;00pm – No. 1 UCLA vs No. 7 Ohio State
  • 6:30pm – No. 9 Stanford vs No. 3 Penn State

January 20th

  • 1:30pm – No. 12 USC vs No. 7 Ohio State
  • 4:00pm – No. 9 Stanford vs No. 11 Ball State
  • 6:30pm – No. 1 UCLA vs No. 3 Penn State

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