There they’re, all six of them proudly proven on a publicity graphic, all six Stanford starters on the preseason Pac-12 workforce.
Loaded and on a mission.
That’s as a result of the beautiful sting of the tip of the 2022 season nonetheless looms massive for the Cardinal, which not solely misplaced to San Diego within the regional last, however misplaced in 5 on its residence courtroom.
Stanford, the Pac-12 champion, led two units to 1 and was up 23-22 within the fourth set, oh so near advancing to the NCAA nationwide semifinals.
However San Diego gained the fourth 25-22.
And within the fifth, the Toreros broke a 9-9 tie by scoring the final six factors.
San Diego, the 2022 workforce of future, went on to Omaha.
Stanford gamers walked again to their dorms and residences on the lookout for solutions.
The six are redshirt senior exterior Caitie Baird, junior center Sami Francis, fifth-year proper facet Kendall Kipp, junior setter Kami Miner, senior libero Elena Olglive and sophomore exterior Elia Rubin.
The one starter not on the checklist is redshirt-senior center McKenna Vicini, who led Stanford in blocks final yr with 40 greater than Kipp. And Vicini led the Pac-12 in hitting proportion (.427).
Kipp, Miner and Oglivie is likely to be the three greatest gamers at their respective positions within the nation; Kipp and Miner for positive; you may argue a few others are proper up there with Oglivie. However she’s elite.
“They’re particular gamers they usually’re particular folks they usually make our workforce higher,” Baird mentioned. “I’m fortunate to be on the identical facet of the web as them. In follow it’s by no means enjoyable being on the other facet. They make you’re employed for each level.”
Pound for pound, when wholesome — and that was an issue in 2022 — Stanford is the workforce to beat this NCAA volleyball season.
“I might agree,” Rubin mentioned.
Rubin went by means of her freshman season comparatively unscathed, though she shortly displayed her less-than-straight pinkie that she broke final yr. Kipp has had concussions, Francis was out for some time.
The 6-foot Miner, a VolleyballMag.com second-team All-American final season, has stayed wholesome all through her first two years as she’s established herself as the following nice American setter after the three on the high, Olympians Jordyn Poulter and Micha Hancock and Lauren Carlini.
She led the Pac-12 in assists final season with 11.42/set, had 22 aces, 92 kills, 59 blocks and averaged 2.1 digs/set.
“Superb setter. She makes ridiculous balls look really easy,” Oglivie mentioned.
Miner is certainly one of a handful of present NCAA standouts whose fathers have been NBA gamers. Her father, Harold, was a star at USC and was a two-time NBA dunk champion.
Among the many others in immediately’s recreation are Asjia O’Neal at Texas (Jermaine O’Neal) and teammate Madisen Skinner (Brian Skinner) and Wisconsin’s Anna Smrek (Michael Smrek) and Carter Sales space (Calvin Sales space). Lorenzo Orr, who had an extended European professional profession and whose daughter, Kennedi, is a junior at Nebraska, was a teammate of Miner’s at USC. And there have been loads extra with a complete pipeline of extra to return.
Rubin gushed when speaking about Miner’s athleticism and skill to regulate set speeds and heights, particularly contemplating how completely different she and the opposite exterior, the 6-3 Baird, bounce and assault.
“Severely, each single day in follow, I don’t even know how one can describe it. Some balls she units, it’s insane,” Rubin mentioned.
Miner, who grew up in Redondo Seaside however by no means embraced seashore volleyball, has spent loads of time within the USA fitness center. Adjusting to completely different hitters takes work, however “for me it was all about establishing a suggestions loop for each of them,” Miner mentioned.
“They each have such huge home windows, to allow them to decide units off at plenty of completely different factors. So having that suggestions loop about the place they really feel they will rating probably the most and have probably the most vary, for me that was crucial factor.”
The 6-5 Kipp, a product of Newport Seaside who begins her fifth yr in Palo Alto, was a VolleyballMag.com first-team All-American and the Pac-12 Participant of the 12 months.
“She’s a tremendous athlete,” Oglivie mentioned, “and he or she has such a ardour for the sport and hearth and you may see it in how excited she will get.”
Kipp led Stanford in kills (528, 4.51/set, second solely to USC’s Skylar Fields within the Pac-12), had a team-high 43 aces (fourth within the Pac-12), and had 113 blocks. Kipp was a key reserve as a freshman when Stanford gained the 2019 title.
“She brings such competitiveness and focus to our practices,” Rubin mentioned. “She actually holds all of us accountable.”
Oglivie, the 5-10 product out of Honolulu, was the 2022 Pac-12 Libero of the 12 months and a VBM third-team All-American. She averaged 4.42 digs, tops within the Pac-12, and had 24 aces. She’s labored onerous at changing into a greater setter.
Francis, 6-6 and by all accounts primed for her greatest season, performed in simply 17 matches final season. The product of La Jolla Nation Day and San Diego averaged 1.98 kills, hit .375 and had 92 blocks, a team-leading 1.46.set, second solely to Washington State All-American Magda Jehlarova within the Pac-12 final season.
Baird is from Indianapolis. She made the VBM second All-American workforce after getting 385 kills (3.32/set), 31 aces and 70 blocks. She redshirted her first yr at Stanford in 2019, so was on the sidelines for the NCAA title run.
Rubin was the 2021 VolleyballMag.com national high school player of the year, however the 6-1 product of Marymount Excessive College in Los Angeles wasn’t overly assured when she arrived in Palo Alto.
However, “I knew she was going to be actually good,” Miner mentioned.
“I really feel like I discovered the game of volleyball in such a brand new means. From the start of the yr to the tip, I noticed a lot enchancment,” Rubin mentioned. “You would take that like I used to be higher than I assumed I used to be.”
Rubin laughed out loud at herself.
“I didn’t assume there was quite a bit I used to be going to study in faculty, that I had reached that time and I used to be so mistaken about that. That was superior.”
She laughed once more.
“That was the good a part of it, seeing how a lot I might broaden my recreation in so wanting a time. And three weeks in I used to be taking part in in a top-five match and I shocked myself to see that I might maintain my very own.”
After which some. She was a five-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week final season, third in kills (3.15/set) for Stanford and second in digs (2.36) and aces (34).
“Taking part in within the fitness center with the very best stage of opponents, there’s nothing higher than that,” Rubin mentioned. “That’s one thing actually cool about our fitness center particularly, which you could take a look at anybody round you they usually’re simply elevating my recreation.”
Most each good volleyball workforce will inform you how a lot all of the gamers like one another, how they’ve turn out to be one another’s greatest buddies and the way they do every part collectively.
Stanford has strengthened that.
For instance, Miner, Francis, Oglivie, junior DS Taylor Beaven and former teammates Leilah Smith and Maiya Tillman all lived collectively.
“We have been actually shut earlier than, however residing in a home with six of my greatest buddies made us even nearer and enabled us to have these actually frank conversations,” Miner mentioned.
And it’s not that their teammates have been disregarded.
“We’re all so shut. At this level we’re like siblings. It’s like the connection I’ve with my brother that I’ve with these ladies. It’s like slightly household. We’d have the entire workforce over to the home on a regular basis.”
Miner did the vast majority of the cooking. Francis was the baker.
However after final spring, they moved again to campus.
“We have been at all times going to spend our senior yr again on campus,” Miner mentioned. “Simply to be a part of the nice vibes which might be right here on campus. And it’s type of a problem to commute and the maintenance is quite a bit for a home that huge.”
The final word workforce bonding comes each 4 years, when NCAA packages can take a global journey. Within the case of Stanford, it was this previous June, when the Cardinal explored and performed volleyball in Istanbul, Türkiye; Prague, Czech Republic, and Maribor, Slovenia.
Right here’s what makes Stanford so completely different: Many of the gamers — together with incoming freshmen Julia Blyashov, Jordyn Harvey, Koko Kirsch and Ipar Kurt (who’s from Istanbul) — all traveled individually and met in Europe.
Baird, Kipp and Vicini stayed behind to take part in Stanford’s commencement and caught up with everybody in Prague. And two former Stanford gamers, who by no means obtained an opportunity to make a global journey — Natalie Berty and Selina Xu — went on the tour.
“It was a blast,” mentioned Baird, who mentioned the workforce took benefit of integrating the incoming freshmen in a particular means.
By the best way, all of these freshmen might see some motion, particularly early. Blyashov is a 6-3 exterior from Carlsbad, California; Kirsh is a DS from Trabuco Canyon, California; Harvey is a 6-1 proper facet from Salt Lake Metropolis; and Kurt is a 6-2 exterior.
Stanford went 27-5 final season, 19-1 within the Pac-12. Three of these losses have been to Texas, Penn State and Louisville early, after which at Oregon in late September. They have been driving a 21-match profitable streak after beating Houston within the third spherical of the NCAA Match earlier than taking part in San Diego.
The schedule this yr is usually brutal. Stanford performs anybody and everybody.
The Cardinal begins college later than most as a result of Stanford is on the quarter system, so each August, early September, coach Kevin Hambly masses up the pre-conference schedule with attention-grabbing journeys and all the highest opponents.
Stanford begins in Colorado, the place it performs at Northern Colorado of the Large Sky on Friday and on the Mountain West’s Colorado State on Saturday. Then they’re residence for No. 11 Florida of the SEC, after which it’s on to No. 1 Texas of the Large 12 in probably the most anticipated pre-conference match of the season.
Two days later Stanford goes to No. 23 Rice of the American Athletic Convention earlier than returning residence for a weekend by which it performs No. 7 Minnesota and No. 14 Ohio State of the Large Ten. And earlier than the ultimate Pac-12 season begins, Stanford is residence for No. 5 Nebraska of the Large Ten and goes to No. 4 Louisville of the ACC.
“Kevin loves it, and all of us adore it, too,” Francis mentioned.
“We wouldn’t have it some other means,” Miner mentioned.
Again to final December 10 after that loss to San Diego.
“We obtained again to the locker room and everybody was crying and it was actually unhappy and everybody was tremendous annoyed,” Miner mentioned. “And everybody was like I wish to get within the fitness center tomorrow and begin working towards. I can’t imagine that we’re gonna have to attend nonetheless many months that’s, from December to August.”
Francis: “There have been no phrases.”
“We missed our alternative. It was actually disappointing. Nevertheless it motivated us and there’s extra of a way of urgency.”
“It was a wake-up name,” Oglivie mentioned.
“It was a wake-up name,” Francis echoed.
“I feel, for us, it’s going to finish up being type of a blessing in disguise. It’s given us that type of chip on our shoulder that this group actually wants with the intention to be very profitable. I’m excited and we’re all actually excited to see what we are able to do with that added motivation and realizing the way it feels to be so shut and are available up slightly bit brief.”
Baird will get the final phrase as Stanford heads to Colorado.
“I’ve full religion on this workforce that we are able to go all the best way,” Baird mentioned. “We have now everybody getting back from final yr and we added some unbelievable items to the combo. It’s going to be a blast and it’s already been enjoyable in practices and competing with one another and pushing one another to get higher daily.
“It’s going to be a lot enjoyable for us and we’re able to get after it and see the place we stand.”