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Men’s volleyball dismantles Cal Baptist on Senior Night for ninth straight win

Stanford men’s volleyball earned a berth in the MPSF Tournament this weekend on its Senior Night after winning its ninth straight match. The No. 4 Cardinal (18-7, 15-7 MPSF) are now tied for third in conference after sweeping Cal Baptist and Pacific at home to close out its home schedule. Not only has Stanford now clinched its seventh straight appearance in the MPSF Tournament, but it is proving to the country that it should be one of the teams to beat moving forward into the postseason.

Senior opposite Eric Mochalski (left)

Senior opposite Eric Mochalski (left) registered four kills on twelve swings to go along with eight digs against Cal Baptist as the Card soundly defeated the Lancers. (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)

After struggling on the road and losing some close matches during the beginning of the season, Stanford has really gained momentum and tremendous confidence in the second half of the campaign. After losing all five of their matches that went into five sets, the Card have seemed to figure out how to keep opponents from pushing the team into a final set. Stanford has come out aggressively and swept away six of its last nine opponents, demonstrating the ability to dominate on offense and limit errors.

Friday night was truly indicative of that encouraging trend. The Cardinal came out with confidence and energy and began the match with aggressive and well-communicated offense. Stanford jumped out to a 7-1 lead over Cal Baptist and soon led 16-5, going on to take the first set 25-13 with a .417 hitting percentage.

The Cardinal were as much on a roll in the second set as they were in the first, leading 12-4 halfway through and winning the frame 25-14. While the third set was close at times and tied 10-10 at one point, the Card were still poised and in control throughout the set. They pulled through in the end to win the match and notch their 13th sweep of the season.

Stanford had an excellent blocking night, with multiple impressive blocking plays. Stanford’s defense was critical to its dominant performance, holding the Lancers to a .038 average for the first two sets. Overall, the night was a full team effort, with 11 different Cardinal players taking the court throughout the match.

The seniors were at the center of the energy on Senior Night and the Maples crowd certainly added to the excitement. Seniors Eric Mochalski, Steven Irvin, Denny Falls, Brian Cook and Scott Sakaida have all provided critical leadership for the team throughout the season, and Cook and Irvin have led the Cardinal this season in kills per set.

Cook led the squad on Friday with eight kills and five digs, while both Mochalski and Irvin finished with four kills. Sakaida also had his first start of the season and recorded three digs for the night. The match was in many ways a picture-perfect Senior Night, with a complete effort led by the seniors gaining a berth to the MPSF Tournament for the Cardinal, which continue to look as strong as ever entering the postseason.

Stanford will take to the road for its final regular season matches this weekend, playing UC-Irvine on Friday and UC-San Diego on Saturday.

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