2013 Preview: Stanford volleyball
The Cardinal reclaimed the Conference title last year under Pac-12 Coach of the Year John Dunning. Posting only one loss in conference play, Stanford advanced to the Berkeley Regional Final of NCAA Tournament play before falling to Michigan. With 11 letterwinners returning - four of which were first team All-Pac-12 - and a recruiting class that includes two of Volleyball Magazine's top-50 recruits, Stanford looks to continue its storied success.
» Stanford returns its top five scorers, four of which were first team All-Pac-12 honorees last season. Returners include SR MB Carly Wopat, who received her first AVCA first team All-American nod last year as a starting middle blocker. Wopat recorded 171 total blocks for a 1.45 blocks per set average, which was third overall in the Pac-12. Her .399 hitting percentage was the best in the conference.
» The Cardinal also returns SO MB Inky Ajanaku, who was first team All-Pac-12 and All-Freshman, and an AVCA honorable mention All-American. Ajanaku was third on the squad in scoring with 359.0 points, and followed Wopat in blocks with 143.
» Other notable returners include sophomore outside hitters Jordan Burgess and Brittany Howard. The two combined for 728.5 points on the year. Burgess also had the opportunity to compete on the U.S. Women's Junior National Team alongside incoming freshmen Kelsey Humphreys and Merete Lutz.
» Primary libero Kyle Gilbert, who tallied 557 digs last season, will also come back for the Cardinal for her junior season.
» Stanford was perfect at home, with a 16-0 record at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif. It was the first time that the Cardinal was without a loss on its home court since 2001.
» The Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic, which Stanford is slated to play in during early September, will feature tough matchups in Florida and Texas. Texas, the reigning national champions, and Florida, which reached the regional round of the NCAA Tournament and finished at No. 10, are two of the nation's top teams and will pose a challenge in the non-conference season.
» Head coach John Dunning will have a difficult time making sure bench players get their opportunity to shine. Since there are so many standout returners, newcomers will have to prove themselves early in the season in order to see some time on the court.