SCHOOL: UC Irvine
Clark finished the season ranked third in the nation in kills per game with an average of 4.54 and also was one of only three players in the country to surpass 500 kills for the season. A threat from behind the service line as well, Clark led the Anteaters and ranked seventh in the nation in aces per game (0.42, 47 total aces).
SCHOOL: Ohio State
Kehoe led the Buckeyes to their first-ever NCAA title and directed the offense to a .343 hitting percentage for the season, good for fourth in the country. His 11.56 assists per game ranked fifth in the country and he also had a team-high 33 aces and 73 total blocks, good for third on the squad.
Lawson finished the year ranked second all-time in the Cardinal record books for career kills during the rally-scoring era (1,377), racking up 455 during the 2011 season alone, good for seventh in the country in kills per game (4.33). He led the team with 26 service aces and ranked second with 186 total digs.
SCHOOL: Southern California
McKibben led the Trojan offense to a .351 hitting percentage, good for second in the country, and dished out a total of 1,187 assists, which ranked him second in the nation with 12.24 assists per game. He also contributed 185 digs, ranking him second on the squad.
SCHOOL: UC Santa Barbara
Menzel led the Gauchos to an improbable run to the NCAA title match, collecting 51 kills in two MPSF playoff wins over Long Beach State and Southern California. He produced 29 double-digit kill matches, including 28 against the Trojans in the MPSF final. Menzel racked up 506 total kills and added in 33 service aces, 155 digs and 60 blocks.
Shoji ranked third in the country in digs per game (2.62), racking up 286 en route to becoming Stanford’s career leader in digs. He had 18 matches with double-digit digs, including a season-high 21 in a five-game win over Cal State Northridge in March.
SCHOOL: Penn State
Sunder led the Nittany Lions and ranked fourth in the nation with 4.54 kills per game, totaling 545 total kills. The EIVA Player of the Year, Sunder also led the squad with 29 service aces and collected 119 digs, good for third on the team.
SCHOOL: Brigham Young
Tavana led the country with 160 total blocks, good for a second-nationally average of 1.52 blocks per game. The First Team All-MPSF selection also collected 234 kills (2.23 kpg) on .436 hitting.
SCHOOL: Southern California
Troy, VBM’s Player of the Year, led the Trojans with 4.00 kills per game (376 total kills) on .358 hitting with 38 service aces, 146 digs and 64 total blocks. He produced 20-plus kills in more than 30 matches and holds USC rally-scoring-era records in kills and aces.
The national leader in kills per game with 5.51, Umlauft racked up a country-leading 551 total kills for the year. He also ranked 12th in hitting percentage, attacking at a .344 clip. During 2011 Umlauft became the 13th Warrior player to record 1,000 career kills and only the third player to reach that plateau in his second season. He reached double-digit kills in all 27 matches, including 14 with 20 or more kills.
Antwain Aguillard Sr. MH Long Beach State
Phil Bannan Sr. S UC San Diego
Dennis Del Valle Sr. L Penn State
Weston Dunlap Jr. MH UCLA
John Klanac Sr. OH Ohio State
Andy McGuire Sr. L UC Santa Barbara
Taylor Sander Fr. OH Brigham Young
Shawn Sangrey Jr. Opp. Ohio State
Robb Stowell Jr. Opp. Brigham Young
Cory Yoder Sr. OH UC Irvine
Tri Bourne Sr. OH Southern California
Mike Bunting Jr. OH Loyola
Henry Cassiday Fr. L Southern California
Tony Ciarelli Jr. OH Southern California
Vince Devany Sr. S UC Santa Barbara
Jordan DuFault Sr. OH UC Irvine
Edgardo Goas Jr. S Penn State
Kevin Heine Sr. MH Ohio State
Spencer McLachlin Sr. OH Stanford
Anders Nelson Sr. MH Ball State
Scott Slaughter Sr. MH UC Santa Barbara
After losing to eventual National Champions Stanford last year in the NCAA semi-finals, Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson said his squad decided right then and there—in the locker room after the final set—to return to that same place again. And the Buckeyes did just that, powering over Penn State in the semi-final match and going on to beat UC Santa Barbara in a thrilling 3-2 victory Saturday, May 7 for the program’s first National Championship title.
“Sometimes it’s still hard to believe,” Hanson said. “There are days you still get up and pinch yourself. I’m so happy for the team and the kids and the coaching staff. It’s just been a great, great thing for Ohio State volleyball.”
Hanson said once they moved past the semifinal match—where “there is almost more pressure” Hanson said—the group breathed a collective sigh of relief. Hanson gives credit to his core group of fifth year seniors who saw their fair share of playing time—Steven Kehoe, Kevin Heine, John Klanac and Jason Tobkin—with leading the squad to the national title.
“That was their whole mission and message this entire year,” Hanson said. “They practiced every day really hard. They went to the weight room when no one was looking in the summer. They did all those little things that are going to help you get to that point.”
With players hailing from all over the country, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York to name a few, Hanson said it was great for the finals to be held on the East Coast where many families who are often unable to attend games during the season, were able to watch their loved ones play. The two semifinals and the final match were played in Penn State’s Rec Hall, which was newly renovated prior to the tournament.
“We had great parental support and we had great student support,” Hanson said. “That’s very significant.”
Hanson has been at the helm of the Ohio State squad since 1985 and has made several NCAA and MIVA Tournament Finals appearances with the Buckeyes. After a 25-2 season in 1998, Hanson was bestowed this same Coach of the Year honor, and two years later brought his team all the way to the NCAA title match where they lost to UCLA. A Ball State graduate, Hanson has also coached at the Olympic level.
Heading into the summer months and in preparation for the 2012 season, Hanson said the coaching staff is “not going to change anything” and plans to stick with the method that is working for them.
“Now the bar has absolutely been set at a national championship level,” said Hanson. “The graduating seniors established a work ethic and a work level that proves that they were on the right track. Now we hope that all our returners can see that as tangible proof and those are the types of things that have to get done.”
In his fourth and final season at USC, senior Murphy Troy simply dominated on the court. Troy led the Trojans with 4.00 kills per game (376 total kills) on .358 hitting with 38 service aces, 146 digs and 64 total blocks, and ended his collegiate career with the USC rally-scoring-era records in both kills and aces.
“It’s weird to finally be leaving,” Troy said after graduation and the NCAA Finals were completed. “Especially having our season in the spring, all your attention and energy is focused into the season at the end of the year and you’re really not thinking about the end of your college career and leaving school. When it finally happened it was sort of a shock and kind of a weird feeling. I’m settling in and getting more used to the fact now.”
USC made it to the NCAA semi-final match where they lost in a 3-1 match to UC Santa Barbara. Troy said that although it would have been great to move onto the final match, or even win it all, he is proud of his personal play and what the team and program accomplished.
“I’m really proud of the season that we had. It was really cool to do the things we did this season that a lot of people haven’t done—especially at USC—in a long, long time,” Troy said. “It was really cool to see the program be turned around and have the success that we did. It’s a disappointing way to end the season but only one team can end on a winning note and unfortunately that couldn’t be us this year.”
Throughout his time at USC the St. Louis, Mo., native has been named a VBM All-American several times, received accolades from the MPSF and the AVCA, all while maintaining a solid grade point average on the academic side as a physics major.
“That was challenging but it always kept me interested,” Troy said. “I had a great time in the athletic program and being a part of USC athletics. The school in general I really enjoyed, the atmosphere and the tradition that USC has.”
Along with his impressive season-ending stats, Troy posted a career hitting percentage of .288 with 1,526 kills, 515 digs, 192 blocks and 105 aces. He has plans to pursue volleyball this summer and over the next few years, and has several opportunities on his plate. He is currently trying to find a team to play for overseas starting in the fall, and has been training with the U.S. National Team. Troy is also trying to make the roster for the Pan Am Cup and is working towards the World University Games in August.
But he will definitely be missing his days as a USC student athlete.
“The number one reason why I was happy to be at USC was because of the people I was surrounded with,” said Troy. “I was playing with a group of my best friends.”
Those who know Taylor Sander have had the opportunity to witness his talent and ambition, both on and off the volleyball court. The 6’4’’ freshman outside hitter and native of Norco, Calif., became a BYU Cougar in 2010 and has played the game impressively at the college level.
Sander, nicknamed the “Sandman” by his teammates and fans, has had a remarkable first season. He was one of four BYU players included in the 2011 MPSF All-Conference selections and earned VBM’s title of Freshman of the Year. Sander also made the All-MPSF Freshman Team. Since joining the team, Sander has started in 22 of 25 matches and secured BYU’s No. 2 ranking with a total of 326 kills, 40 service aces, 115 digs and 65 blocks this season.
Sander’s outstanding performance undoubtedly stems from his extensive experience playing competitively in high school. In addition to being a four-year letter winner on his Norco High School team, Sander’s 19U Boy’s Youth National Team won first-place at Norceca in Florida in the summer of 2008 and won the gold again in Quebec in the summer of 2010 with the 21U Men’s Junior National Team. He was a High School MVP and League MVP in 2008 and won CIF Southern Section Division III Player of the Year in 2009. His DIII team won the CIF Southern Section Championship in 2009 as well.
Sander has also received attention for his accomplishments as a beach volleyball player and was named AAU junior beach Player of the Year in 2007. In 2007 and 2008, he and his beach tournament partner, John Caroompas, were named the CBVA Beach Champions.
Thanks to his talent, several universities recruited him, including UC Santa Barbara, Hawaii and USC. Sander has also proven to be a well-rounded athlete, enjoying other sports such as basketball, wakeboarding and golf.
Based on his performance this past year, number 15 will continue to amaze Cougars fans in his three remaining seasons at Brigham Young. Sander’s drive and skills have made him worthy of national praise and make him one of the top players to watch this upcoming year.
Originally published in July 2011