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Men’s volleyball looks to break even in MPSF during homestand

The No. 7 Stanford men’s volleyball team (5-4, 2-4 MPSF) will be looking to use its decisive win last Saturday against Cal State Northridge to try and improve its home record to 5-1 when it hosts unranked UC-San Diego on Friday and No. 9 UC-Irvine on Saturday. After Stanford’s recently tough road trips that saw the squad lose to No. 1 UCLA and No. 4 BYU in close matches, the Cardinal returned home last week and split a weekend homestand with a disappointing loss to No. 6 Long Beach State. This weekend, with the Cardinal facing two lower-ranked opponents, there will be a critical opportunity for Stanford to improve its record in conference play.

Sophomore middle Conrad Kaminski (4)

Sophomore middle Conrad Kaminski (4), who leads his team in total block assists and is fourth in kills per set, will be a key cog in John Kosty’s lineup  during the Card’s upcoming homestand against UCSD and UCI. (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford will face UC-San Diego on Friday, and the match is a must-win for Stanford if it wishes to be competitive in postseason play. UC-San Diego has yet to win a game, with a 0-9 record overall and a 0-8 record in the MPSF. UCSD has faced very tough opponents and has played all but two matches on the road, which could be significant factors in explaining why the team has only won two sets so far this season.

The Cardinal leads the series with UCSD 41-3 and holds a five-game winning streak against the Tritons. Last time UCSD won at Maples was in the 2011 season, in an upset against the defending national champion Cardinal. UCSD’s offense is not as strong as the Cardinal’s and its hitting power is limited to a few players. Senior outside hitter Nick Lorfino leads the team in kills along with senior opposite Johi Awerkamp. While Awerkamp had a season-high 18 kills against Cal Baptist to demonstrate that UCSD can hit against top offenses, the team has not yet been able to overcome the hitting power of a team like CBU on the defensive side.

Stanford will also face No. 9 UC-Irvine during the homestand. The Anteaters have had a similar beginning to their season as the Cardinal, having gone 7-5 overall and 4-4 on the road. UCI has had some impressive wins but also some tough losses, having lost twice last week to UCLA but having beaten UCSD. Stanford is winning the overall series with UCI, but the Anteaters have come out on top in the last four matchups. UCI has an impressive offense with a deep bench on a roster that includes seven players that average 1.4 kills or more per set. Senior outside hitter Jeremy Dejno had an impressive match against UCSD with 15 kills and a career-high five blocks.

Stanford faces UC San Diego at 7 p.m. on Friday and UC-Irvine for a day match at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, both at Maples Pavilion. The UC-Irvine match will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

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