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Volleyball splits weekend series on the road

The No. 8 Stanford men’s volleyball team took to the road this past weekend, returning home with a 1-1 record for the trip after facing No. 5 Long Beach State on Friday and Cal State Northridge on Saturday. The Cardinal lost in four sets to Long Beach State but managed to rally and come back to beat Cal State Northridge in three straight sets. Stanford is now 10-7 overall and 7-7 in the MPSF.

(MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)

Senior outside hitter Brian Cook recorded 21 kills and 13 digs in Friday’s loss to go with 18 kills and a 69.6 percent hitting average in Saturday’s win. Cook was the clear offensive leader in the weekend series. (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford, playing its first road game in two weeks, looked to upset Long Beach State and improve its standing in the MPSF. The Cardinal started off very strong, winning the first set 27-25, but Long Beach State gained momentum and took the next three sets, winning the match 25-27, 25-23, 25-18, 25-23. While Stanford looked to carry its first-set momentum into the next set, the 49ers found their rhythm and used their home court advantage to go on an 8-1 run early in the second set. Overall, the match was very close the whole time and both teams battled back and forth for the lead. In the fourth and final set, neither team led by more than two points until Long Beach State pulled ahead in the final four points of the match.

Stanford’s offense was led by senior outside hitter Brian Cook, who recorded 21 kills and 13 digs. However, Stanford struggled with errors and recorded 26 hitting errors. The Cardinal also struggled from the service line, with 17 missed serves. Long Beach State was able to capitalize off these errors and use Stanford errors as momentum throughout the match. Long Beach State senior Taylor Crabb had an impressive 22 kills for the match and, more impressively, no errors on 58 swings. He hit a .379 for the match, playing a key role in the 49ers’ offense.

But on Saturday, Stanford was able to recover from the previous night’s very close and tough loss, sweeping Cal State Northridge 25-20, 25-17, 25-22 in a consistent and well-played match. Stanford had one of its most impressive offensive performances of the season, hitting a season-high .456 with 50 kills. Once again, Cook led the Cardinal with 18 kills, hitting .696 for the night. In addition, senior Eric Mochalski and senior Steven Irvin both had 11 kills for the match.

“I thought Brian Cook did a nice job for us this weekend,” head coach John Kosty told GoStanford.com. “He had another great match, and has been an excellent leader in helping us be successful.”

Stanford also lifted itself to a victory with the help of its defense. Cal State Northridge was held to a .197 attack percentage for the night and had only 27 kills as a team. Stanford played aggressively from the beginning and won the first points of each set. With Stanford’s aggressive offense and dominating defense, the Matadors were not able to ever catch up, only tying the match once.

Stanford will remain on the road next week as it travels to southern California. It will play No. 4 Pepperdine on Friday and then No. 7 USC on Sunday as it will aim to return home with a winning record in the MPSF before its final home stretch of the season.

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