When the University of Hawaii faces off with Brigham Young University on Saturday in the NCAA Men’s Volleyball National Championship Match familiar face will be on the other side of the net.
Punahou graduate Wil Stantley, who returned for a second senior season following the cancelled 2020 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will close out his illustrious collegiate career as the All-American setter will face a team that he grew up watching as his older brother Clay starred for the ‘Bows from 1997-2000.
“I remember being two, three years old and watching my brother play at UH and sitting in the front row of those games at the Stan Sheriff Center when they were playing UCLA and they were packing that place,” Stanley told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. “It’s definitely something special. I think being a Hawaii boy, you always kind of go into those games with a little extra chip on your shoulder, wanting to play the University of Hawaii and kind of show out and play your best game. The level of volleyball coming from the state of Hawaii is I think in it of itself a special thing.”
In total, there are six Hawaii products that will be playing in Saturday’s national title match as Wil is joined by brother Jon on the Cougars roster, while Hawaii has Colton Cowell, Alaka’i Todd, Kana’i Akina, and Cole Hogland as active roster members. Makua Marumoto and ‘Eleu Choy are not on the post season roster for the ‘Bows.
Wil’s younger brother Jon is a sophomore libero with the Cougars and in Thursday’s semifinal win over Lewis played a big part in closing out the four-set battle by serving consecutive points which included a forced overpass kill and a diving dig which led to a point.
“It’s special. The crazy thing is that I’ve gotten to extend my career with him. Just being in that moment with him and celebrating with him and kind of again, looking back and remember watching him play when he was a little kid and helping him, playing in the back yard, just peppering and setting up our net on a fence and playing volleyball in our back yard, it’s definitely emotional for me. Just seeing him and how excited he is. This is his first final four and his first experience, so just kind of the elation he had last night was just unbelievable.”
The Stanley brothers and their BYU Cougars are aiming for a fourth National Championship for the program and first since 2004, while UH is looking for its first since the vacated title in 2002.
First serve is set for Saturday at 2:00 pm HST on ESPNU.
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