After a dominating performance at home last week against UC-Irvine, No. 8 Stanford men’s volleyball (7-4, 4-4 MPSF) will play its first February road game tonight at Pacific before returning home to host No. 4 BYU on Friday at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal will look to extend its current three-match winning streak, in which it has shut out its last three opponents at Maples Pavilion.
Pacific (2-9, 1-7) is coming off of a victory over UC-San Diego on Saturday just a day after Stanford defeated UC-San Diego in straight sets at Maples. Pacific was led in that match by freshman outside hitter Thomas Hodges, who enjoyed a career-high 23 kills. He hit .354 — recording only six errors — and had 11 digs for the match. With Stanford having won three of its last four games at home after winning only one of four away from Maples, it will be interesting to see how the Cardinal handles returning to the road, even for a short trip like this one.
After its match against Pacific, Stanford will host the fourth-ranked Cougars (8-3, 8-1), which currently lead the MPSF standings by a half game over UCLA. The Cardinal has already faced the Cougars once this season in a tough four-set defeat on the road. After that game, head coach John Kosty noted that the crowd in Provo, Utah played a significant role in key moments of the match the last time around. Home-court advantage for the Cardinal could make a difference in this key conference matchup against the leaders of the MPSF.
Furthermore, BYU is coming off a 10-day break from playing and could thus be slightly rusty, in stark contrast to the Cardinal, which will be coming off of a stretch of five matches in 14 days.
BYU’s offense is led by outside hitter Taylor Sander, who ranks fourth in the nation with 4.33 kills per set. He also ranks fifth in the country with his 22 aces so far this season. The Cardinal, which has limited its opponents’ hitting games and has out-blocked its opponents in each of its last two matches, must find a way to return Sander’s serves and limit his kill opportunities.
Stanford senior opposite Eric Mochalski will look to continue his hot streak after being named the AVCA Men’s Division I-II National Player of the Week. In last weekend’s matches, which marked the first times he started at opposite this season, Mochalski averaged 3.60 kills per set and hit .448. While the honor demonstrates his tangible significance to the team, his leadership over the past few weeks has been equally important while the Cardinal has regained confidence and momentum. He will look to build on his success at the outside position in the upcoming matches this week.
First serve for Wednesday’s match against Pacific is set for 7 p.m. in Stockton, Calif.
Contact Eliza Thompson at elizat ‘at’ stanford.edu.