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Men’s volleyball splits weekend home series

No. 7 Stanford men’s volleyball is no longer undefeated at home. After two weeks on the road, the Cardinal returned home to play No. 6 Long Beach State on Friday and No. 13 Cal State Northridge on Saturday at Maples. While the Cardinal (5-4, 2-4 MPSF) defeated Cal State Northridge in three straight sets, it lost a tough battle against Long Beach State in five close sets.

Friday’s game against Long Beach State (5-3, 4-3) started out well for the Cardinal, which looked comfortable and confident back on its home court. Stanford won the first two sets of the match but the 49ers were able to capitalize off of Stanford’s mistakes and build momentum to give LBSU the advantage in the final three sets as the 49ers would go on to win, 17-25, 25-27, 25-18, 25-18, 15-11. The 49ers came out strong in the third set with a 9-0 run and never let Stanford come within six in the rest of the set. Stanford seemed discouraged and deflated, having given up a chance to close the match in three sets.

(ZETONG LI/The Stanford Daily)

Redshirt sophomore libero Grant Delgado (above) recorded a match-high 18 digs in the Card’s narrow 3-2 loss to Long Beach State. (ZETONG LI/The Stanford Daily)

“I thought Long Beach upped its game after the first two sets,” head coach John Kosty told GoStanford.com. “They did a really nice job opening the third set. They forced our hitters into some difficult situations and were able to capitalize off of that momentum.”

The 49ers not only outhit Stanford .238 to .212, but also were superior on transition plays and forced Stanford to commit errors. Stanford’s normally strong service game was in many ways the weakest aspect of its play on Friday, as the Card recorded 15 service errors.

Long Beach State was led by senior outside hitter Taylor Crabb, who had a career-high 29 kills and two aces for the match, while senior Connor Olbright recorded a double-double with 52 assists and 17 digs.

Stanford senior outside hitter Brian Cook led the Cardinal with 15 kills and redshirt sophomore libero Grant Delgado had an impressive match-high 18 digs for the defense. Senior middle Denny Falls also was significant on defense with six blocks for the night for the Cardinal.

After the disappointing loss at Maples on Friday, Stanford had to return the next night to face Cal State Northridge (3-4. 3-3). This time, however, the Cardinal had more success and was able to leave Maples with a 25-21, 25-18, 25-19 win.

Stanford demonstrated the ability to regroup mentally after a tough loss, coming out strong against the Matadors.  The Cardinal took an early lead in the first set and never looked back, making sure to not allow Cal State Northridge the same opportunity it had allowed Long Beach State the night before. Stanford limited its mistakes and drastically improved its service game — Stanford had eight aces for the night, with senior opposite Eric Mochalski responsible for three of those aces. In his first start of the season, Mochalski led the Cardinal with 11 kills and no attack errors. He also hit .688, showing that he was deserving of his starting position. Cal State Northridge was led by freshman Damani Lenore, who also had 11 kills.

“I was lucky tonight that they weren’t paying too much attention to me and I was getting a lot of one-on-one match-ups,” Mochalski told GoStanford.com. “Any opposite in the league can put away balls in one-on-one situations. It was really a team effort for us tonight.”

With Stanford’s dominant performance over Cal State Northridge, it gained some positive momentum to carry with it when the Card looks to improve its record in the MPSF.

Stanford will remain at home next week to host UC-San Diego on Friday at 7 p.m. and UC-Irvine on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The UC-Irvine game will be broadcasted on Pac-12 Bay Area.

Contact Eliza Thompson at elizat ‘at’ stanford.edu.