The men’s volleyball team lost a crucial conference match against Long Beach City College April 15, jeopardizing their place in the playoffs.
The match, a brutal 3-game sweep for Long Beach, makes it the Brahmas’ second loss to the Vikings in a Western State Conference (Southern Division) match this season.
The defeat was made more severe due to the memorial significance of the match to Pierce Athletics. The match was dedicated to retired volleyball coach and Brahma luminary Ken Stanley.
Stanley’s career lasted 38 years, from 1966 to 2004, as a coach and physical education instructor, his success as head volleyball coach led the Brahmas to several conference titles and three state championships.
The court of the South Gym was officially renamed in honor of Stanley during a ceremony held just before the start of play.
“Ken has two families, his second being all the people who’ve worked with him over the years here at Pierce,” said Marv Dunphy, head coach for Pepperdine University’s men’s volleyball team and American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Famer.
Dunphy presented an honorary plaque to Stanley during the dedication ceremony, to the raucous applause of spectators – many of whom included former students and alumni that played under Stanley.
“I’m here for coach Stanley,” said alumni Joe Manzo.
Manzo, 43, played center under Stanley from 1987 to 1988, and now coaches men’s volleyball at Culver City College.
“Big Daddy was my coach. That’s what we called him: not coach Stanley, ‘Big Daddy.’ He wasn’t just my coach, he was a father figure.”
The men’s team rode into the game with high spirits and support from the crowd but buckled under the pressure. Long Beach, a heavy-hitter all season, slammed the ball into Brahma territory while the Brahma’s game was smattered with short serves.
That didn’t stop the Brahma crowd from cheering their hardest as the men rallied in the third set, closing the Viking lead down to a close 25-23 defeat for the Brahmas.
“First of all, we came in tonight to see coach Stanley get recognized,” said Viking head coach Randy Totorp. “When I was a player, he was always someone I looked up to. We knew going in tonight it would be a really upbeat match.”
The loss put the Brahmas playoff status into question. The game was the last of the season.
“I’m disappointed,” said Brahma head coach Eddie Stanislawski. “We didn’t come out the way we should have. The coaches are going to meet and we’re going to have to evaluate our position. As it is, we’re going to train up for the next season.”
Stanley and his family watched the game from the head of the auditorium, standing with other alumni during the hour-long match.
“Well, I guess my real thought is that I’m very humbled,” said Stanley.
Obviously a lot has changed over the years, but the former sideline stalker enjoys every second he spends srrounded by quality talent.
“There are a lot of great athletes and coaches that came through here, it was great to see some of the old players who made a difference and really helped build this program,” he said, surrounded by former Brahmas.
The Brahmas are on the outside looking in on the playoffs and probably will end up falling just a bit short. After a very strong start, the team sputtered toward the finish-line closing out their opponents with any real consistency.
“I thought that Long Beach was a little quicker than us, faster than us. They’re a very strong team. They’ve got a good team, and so do we, but they did better than us tonight.”