Thursday, March 29, 2012

Memorial fund established for Stanford volleyball player Samantha Wopat

Samantha Wopat
While a student at Dos Pueblos High School, Sam Wopat played for the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club.

Now, the club has established the Sam Wopat Memorial Fund. The club's website reports that "All contributions to the fund will go directly to the Wopat family."

Wopat was taken to Stanford Hospital on March 17, where she stayed until she died March 25. Stanford officials--apparently respecting the wishes of the Wopat family--have not revealed the cause of death.

Stanford University is on spring break this week, so the student paper, the Stanford Daily, is not publishing daily editions. Nonetheless, the paper posted an online report Monday. Wopat's death briefly became a major internet story; at one point it was among the top trending stories on both Yahoo News and

Because Wopat was hospitalized while on campus, many in the Stanford community have a pretty good idea why she was hospitalized. A few journalists--including, apparently, at least one reporter for the Stanford Daily--have elected not to publish Wopat's cause of death unless or until either the university or the Wopat family make that announcement. The decision not to publish details--a dilemma that most newsrooms have faced in other circumstances--has sparked passionate commentary on the Stanford Daily website.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stanford volleyball player Samantha Wopat dies

Sad news this morning from Palo Alto. Samantha Wopat--known to all as Sam--died yesterday at Stanford Hospital. She was 19.

Both Sam and her twin sister, Carly, were members of the 2011 Stanford volleyball team.

No word yet on a cause of death. Here's Stanford's official announcement.

March 26, 2012 
Samantha "Sam" Wopat died at Stanford Hospital on Sunday, March 25. She was a member of the women's volleyball team and a former member of the U.S. Women's Junior National Team. 
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford University is mourning the passing of Samantha "Sam" Wopat, a sophomore student-athlete on the women's volleyball team.

Wopat, who was 19, died Sunday, March 25, at Stanford Hospital, surrounded by family, friends and teammates. Wopat was hospitalized on Saturday, March 17, after a medical emergency at her Stanford residence. She remained in the intensive care unit of Stanford Hospital until her death.
Wopat joined the Stanford women's volleyball team in 2010, along with her twin sister, Carly, and excelled as an outside hitter. At Stanford, Wopat appeared in 25 sets as a sophomore and averaged 1.16 kills per set. As a freshman, she saw action in 11 sets and registered a .571 season hitting percentage. 
Prior to enrolling at Stanford, Wopat was a member of the 2010 U.S. Women's Junior National Team. In 2009, she participated in Thailand as a member of the U.S. Youth National Team that competed at the World Championships. She was a member of Junior Olympic teams in 2006, 2007 and 2008. 
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sam Wopat," said Bob Bowlsby, the Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics at Stanford. "She was an integral member of the Stanford Athletics family and a tremendous student and athlete. On behalf of our administration, coaches and students I extend my condolences to Sam's siblings, parents, relatives and friends. Stanford University and the Women's Volleyball program have lost a wonderful young woman." 
Information about a memorial to celebrate Wopat's life will be shared as it becomes available. In the meantime, the university continues to provide support to the Wopat family and to Sam Wopat's friends, teammates and fellow students.  
Samantha Alohilani Wopat was born on Oct. 13, 1992 in Santa Barbara, Calif.. She was a 2010 graduate of Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, Calif., where she lettered in volleyball, track and field and basketball. She and her sister were both named the 2010 Dos Pueblos High School Top Female Athlete. 
As a senior, Wopat led her team in kills and aces. She helped lead the team to the CIF Division 1A Southern California title. She was considered one of the nation's top volleyball players in PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces rankings. In 2009, she was named a PreVolleyball High School All-American and a Volleyball Magazine Second Team All-American. 
She also played for the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club, which won the 2010 Southern California Junior National Qualifier. 
Wopat is survived by her parents, Ron and Kathy Wopat of Santa Barbara, Calif., her twin sister, Carly, who is also a member of the Stanford women's volleyball team; and two younger brothers, Jackson and Eli.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Summer Ross begins collegiate sand volleyball career with mixed results

Pepperdine’s Summer Ross—who spent three months playing indoor volleyball for Washington before transferring—suffered an unexpected loss in her first-ever collegiate sand volleyball dual match.
Summer Ross
Ross and her partner, Caitlin Racich, dropped their match yesterday against Long Beach State’s Tara Roenicke and Caitlin Ledoux, 21-19, 17-21, 6-15. Overall, Pepperdine won the dual competition 3-2.
Ross and Racich are the Waves’ Number 1 team. Last week, the pair reached the finals of the USC Invitational, defeating Roenicke and Ledoux along the way, before losing in the championships to Florida State’s Aurora Newgard and Brittany Tiegs, 21-16, 16-21, 10-15. Pepperdine won the three-day tournament, finishing ahead of USC, Florida State and Long Beach State.
At the USC Invitational, Ross and Racich scored impressive victories against several high-profile indoor players, including Florida State’s Jekaterina Stepanova (2nd team All-American) and USC’s Kendall Bateman (1st team All-American). Both USC's and FSU's indoor teams reached the 2011 Final Four. Long Beach’s Ledoux was an Honorable Mention All-American; Roenicke has competed with the US Junior National Indoor Team.
In 2011, Ross was selected USA Beach Player of the Year, after winning two international juniors tournaments, with two different partners. As a Washington freshman, Ross started all 32 matches, recording 167 kills, 115 blocks and a team-leading 27 service aces. She transferred to Pepperdine to be closer to her family’s San Diego home and to play NCAA sand volleyball. Her older brother, Chase Ross, is a starting outside hitter on the Waves’ men’s team.
Ross and her teammates are on their way to South Carolina, where they’ll compete this weekend in the Charleston Sand Classic, featuring Alabama-Birmingham, North Florida, Mercer and host College of Charleston.

A handy guide from the Pepperdine Sand Volleyball website:
SAND VOLLEYBALL 101 - Each team competition is called a dual and will consist of five pairs from one school versus five pairs from another school. Each match is worth one point towards the team score. In this best-of-five format, a winner is determined when a team scores at least three points (similar to how collegiate tennis duals are contested).
The separate matches consist of the best-of-three sets, with rally scoring to 21 in the first two sets and to 15 in the third set if necessary. Teams must win by at least two points.
Pairs competitions will also be held this season, with the two-person teams being placed in brackets and playing in single elimination tournaments.
The AVCA National Team Championship will be held in the same format as the team competition at the USC Tournament. The No. 1 pairs from all four schools in attendance will play each other in a double-elimination flight (No. 2 vs. No. 2 etc.), with a sudden death final. The first-place team from each flight is awarded four points, second place earns three points, two points for third place and point for fourth. The team with the most points at the end is crowned the champion.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? - There are a few key elements of sand volleyball that differ from its indoor counterpart. No open hand tipping is allowed, and the block touch counts as the first of three allowable contacts. Coaches may only speak to players or give instruction during timeouts or between sets. Finally, to make a level playing field with regards to impact of the sun and wind, the players switch sides of the court every seven points in a 21 point set, and every five points in a 15 point set. The court is also smaller at 8x8 meters, while the indoor court measures 9x9 meters.
WHAT'S AN EMERGING SPORT? - Collegiate sand volleyball is an "emerging sport." It has 10 years to gain the minimum 40 sponsoring institutions for two years in a row to be considered an NCAA Championship sport.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pac-12 Finalizing 2012 Conference Volleyball Schedule

There's bad news for fans of balanced scheduling.
The Pac-12 is proceeding with plans—announced last fall—to have each of its volleyball teams play two fewer conference matches each season. That means some teams will miss marquee matchups, others will avoid near-certain losses or victories. And the final standings may leave room for debate.
This fall, Washington will play Arizona State in Tempe and host Arizona … but will not reciprocate with a home match against the Sun Devils or a road trip to Tucson. Next season, the Huskies will also miss one match against each of the Arizona schools, with the venues switched. Washington State—as the Huskies’ travel partner—will also skip two Arizona matches each of the next two seasons, but in reverse.
The other “skip partners” for 2012 & 2013:
  • Cal/Stanford miss one each against Colorado/Utah
  • UCLA/USC miss one each against Oregon/Oregon State

Washington coach Jim McLaughlin is not a big fan of the new schedule. “I came to Washington, in large part, because the Pac-12 is the best conference around,” he says. “I came because I can play Stanford twice, the Bruins twice, the Trojans twice, Cal twice. Playing teams in this conference is as good as it gets.”
At first glance, the teams that could see the biggest benefit the next two seasons are Oregon and Oregon State. The Ducks and Beavers avoid four total matches against UCLA and USC. On the other hand, Cal and Stanford miss what would likely be four wins each against Utah and Colorado.
Why the change?
Remember that Pac-12 schools were hugely disrespected by the NCAA tournament selection committee last fall. It seeded USC #7, despite the fact the Trojans were #1 in the polls. The Trojans went on to reach their second consecutive Final Four. Even more glaring, eventual National Champion (and #4 in the polls) UCLA was seeded #9.
The Pac-12’s 20-match schedule gives conference teams an additional weekend to try to schedule top-flight nonconference competition to help boost RPI at the end of the season. The problem, of course, is that other top conferences may have already started league play by then. And—as coaches frequently note—there are only so many RPI-attractive teams to go around. If a team like up-and-coming Pepperdine—a possible high RPI team—has the choice of scheduling either, say, Arizona or USC, it only gets RPI credit if it wins, and it wants to win against a team which might have a high RPI in late November. So, if it schedules Arizona and wins, but Arizona ends up low in the RPI, it’s a bad bet. If it schedules USC and loses, it doesn’t get a big boost. So, while both Arizona and USC might find Pepperdine attractive, the reverse may not be true.
There has been considerable conversation about arranging more Pac-12/Big-10 matchups in several sports, none more attractive than in volleyball, since a current team from one of those two conferences has been national champion 13 years in a row (and 19 times in the past 22 years). It won’t happen in 2012, but there has been talk about matchups in either midseason or just before the tournament starting in 2013. Stay tuned for those conversations.
Here, then, is the 2012 conference schedule on the table for approval next week. Teams still might have flexibility to move both matches against their geographic rival to the last week of the season, as six teams did last year: The schedule assumes mostly Friday/Saturday matches, though travel and/or football conflicts are likely to push several matches to Thursday or Sunday.
Week 1: (Sep 21/22)
  • Washington @ Washington State
  • Oregon @ Oregon State
  • California @ Stanford
  • UCLA @ USC
  • Arizona @ Arizona State
  • Colorado @ Utah
  • Washington @ Arizona
  • Washington State @ Arizona State
  • Oregon @ USC
  • Oregon State @ UCLA
  • California @ Colorado
  • Stanford @ Utah

Week 2: (Sept 28/29)
  • California @ Arizona State
  • Stanford @ Arizona
  • UCLA @ Washington
  • USC @ Washington State
  • Colorado @ Oregon State
  • Utah @ Oregon
  • California @ Arizona
  • Stanford @ Arizona State
  • UCLA @ Washington State
  • USC @ Washington
  • Colorado @ Oregon
  • Utah @ Oregon State

Week 3: (Oct 5/6)
  • Washington @ Utah
  • Washington State @ Colorado
  • Oregon @ Stanford
  • Oregon State @ California
  • Arizona @ USC
  • Arizona State @ UCLA
  • Washington @ Colorado
  • Washington State @ Utah
  • Oregon @ California
  • Oregon State @ Stanford
  • Arizona @ UCLA
  • Arizona State @ USC

Week 4: (Oct 12/13)
  • Washington @ Oregon State
  • Washington State @ Oregon
  • UCLA @ Stanford
  • USC @ California
  • Arizona @ Utah
  • Arizona State @ Colorado
  • Washington @ Oregon
  • Washington State @ Oregon State
  • UCLA @ California
  • USC @ Stanford
  • Arizona @ Colorado
  • Arizona State @ Utah

Week 5: (Oct 19/20)
  • Oregon @ Arizona State
  • Oregon State @ Arizona
  • California @ Washington State
  • Stanford @ Washington
  • Colorado @ USC
  • Utah @ UCLA
  • Oregon @ Arizona
  • Oregon State @ Arizona State
  • California @ Washington
  • Stanford @ Washington State
  • Colorado @ UCLA
  • Utah @ USC

Week 6: (Oct 26/27)
  • Washington @ UCLA
  • Washington State @ USC
  • Oregon @ Colorado
  • Oregon State @ Utah
  • Arizona @ California
  • Arizona State @ Stanford
  • Washington @ USC
  • Washington State @ UCLA
  • Oregon @ Utah
  • Oregon State @ Colorado
  • Arizona @ Stanford
  • Arizona State @ California

Week 7 (Nov 2/3)
  • California @ Oregon
  • Stanford @ Oregon State
  • UCLA @ Arizona
  • USC @ Arizona State
  • Colorado @ Washington
  • Utah @ Washington State
  • California @ Oregon State
  • Stanford @ Oregon
  • UCLA @ Arizona State
  • USC @ Arizona
  • Utah @ Washington
  • Colorado @ Washington State

Week 8 (Nov 9/10)
  • Washington @ California
  • Washington State @ Stanford
  • UCLA @ Colorado
  • USC @ Utah
  • Arizona @ Oregon
  • Arizona State @ Oregon State
  • Washington @ Stanford
  • Washington State @ California
  • UCLA @ Utah
  • USC @ Colorado
  • Arizona @ Oregon State
  • Arizona State @ Oregon

Week 9: (Nov 16/17)
  • Oregon @ Washington
  • Oregon State @ Washington State
  • California @ UCLA
  • Stanford @ USC
  • Colorado @ Arizona
  • Utah @ Arizona State
  • Oregon @ Washington State
  • Oregon State @ Washington
  • California @ USC
  • Stanford @ UCLA
  • Colorado @ Arizona State
  • Utah @ Arizona

Week 10: (Nov 23/24)
  • UCLA @ Oregon
  • USC @ Oregon State
  • Arizona @ Washington State
  • Arizona State @ Washington
  • Colorado @ Stanford
  • Utah @ California
  • Washington State @ Washington
  • Oregon State @ Oregon
  • Stanford @ California
  • USC @ UCLA
  • Arizona State @ Arizona
  • Utah @ Colorado

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