Twice as nice: Wopat twins shine on, off court at Stanford

Oct. 19, 2011, 3:02 a.m.

For years, the wide world of sports’ sibling rivalries has filled our television screens and newspaper pages. Peyton and Eli. Venus and Serena. Ronde and Tiki.

But for two Stanford volleyball stars, bloodlines disappear once they hit the court.

“To be honest, when I’m on the court I don’t even think of her as my sister,” sophomore outside hitter Sam Wopat said. “When we’re in the volleyball zone, everybody around us is just another player. We’re competing and trying to win.”

“It is kind of fun when we get a block right next to each other,” sophomore middle blocker Carly Wopat chips in. “It’s like a twin block.”

The Wopat twins have been a major force this season in helping the No. 5 Cardinal reach 14-3 (8-3 Pac-12). Carly was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for Sep. 26-Oct. 2 as well as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week on Sep. 12–making her the only player ever to win Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week awards in Pac-12 volleyball.

Not too shabby for sisters who began playing volleyball in middle school because a PE teacher started an after-school program.

“We would just pick up the ball and throw it over the net,” Carly said.

Soon after, they started club volleyball, and the twins have been playing ever since.

As seniors, they won myriad honors and were ranked No. 4 (Carly) and No. 40 (Sam) in Prep Volleyball’s Senior Aces national rankings. They also led their team to the CIF Division 1A Southern California title, an experience the duo said has helped them here on the Farm.

“Our team had a lot of energy and we would get after it, so I think we brought that energy and effort with us to Stanford,” Carly said. “We also learned some leadership skills.”

“I also learned how important team chemistry is because our high school team was great,” Sam said. “I loved everyone on that team. It’s sort of the same thing here, our team gets along so well, and that actually really helps on the court when you can turn to someone and completely trust them.”

But it’s not all volleyball, all the time for the Wopats. With the little free time that they do have, the twins can be found painting, hiking the Dish, shopping and visiting family friends in the area.

Carly, a prospective human biology major, is working her way through the subject’s core classes, a difficult task that she loves. Sam recently decided to major in English with a creative writing focus, and is dabbling in a variety of courses from Hawaiian language to poetry.

Sam enjoys the team’s road trips, where she can focus on schoolwork without distractions, while Carly spoke half-fondly of reading and studying in airports and hotel rooms.

With their academics under control, the duo must turn their attention back to the court. In a week and a half, they will face USC and UCLA at home in Maples Pavilion on Oct. 28 and 29. The Cardinal lost to both squads–3-2 to UCLA and 3-0 to USC–in Los Angeles earlier this season.

Both Wopats said the revenge factor is “giant” for the two games.

“We’re going to crush them,” Carly said.

“We feel more prepared this time,” Sam added. “We hope we can get lots of students and supporters out here to see the slaughterhouse on the court.”

Both will get their shot in a little over a week. But before then, they must handle a weekend road trip to the desert to face Arizona and Arizona State.

Billy Gallagher is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. He has previously worked at The Daily as editor in chief, a managing editor of news, news desk editor, sports desk editor and staff development editor. He is a junior from Villanova, PA majoring in Economics. He is also a writer for TechCrunch.

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