Men’s volleyball stretches win streak to 11 to close out regular season

The No. 3 Stanford men’s volleyball team (20-7, 17-7 MPSF) finished its regular season schedule on an 11-match win streak after road wins over No. 6 UC-Irvine and UC-San Diego. The Cardinal reached the 20-win mark for the fourth time under head coach John Kosty.

After struggling — especially on the road — earlier in the season, Stanford has found its rhythm as a team and currently has the longest winning streak in the MPSF. The 11-match winning streak is also the longest in Stanford history since a 16-game streak in 1997.

Sophomore Conrad Kaminski (right) (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)

Sophomore Conrad Kaminski (right) recorded eight blocks in Stanford’s victory over UCSD this past Saturday. (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)

On Friday, the Cardinal faced No. 6 UC-Irvine at Irvine, Calif. Stanford clinched a home-court advantage for the quarterfinals of the MPSF Tournament with the win, increasing its winning streak to 10. The Anteaters, however, proved to be strong competitors and the win was not an easy one for the Cardinal. This was only the second win of the last 11 that went to five sets. Prior to the win streak, Stanford had not won a match that went to five sets during the season.

The win demonstrates just how far Stanford has come as a team this season. After struggling both in road matches and in longer matches, the Cardinal finally won a five-set match on the road — and did so in impressive fashion.

The back-and-forth match was suspenseful, with the two teams going set for set. Stanford took the first, third and final set while the Anteaters won the second and fourth. UCI came out aggressively, leading the first set 14-7 early. However, the Cardinal were able to rally back and win the next five straight to eventually tie the set 18-18. Senior outside hitter Steven Irvin’s ace won the first set at 24-21.

The second set was the complete opposite of the first, with Stanford leading early 10-4 before the Anteaters went on an impressive run and won the set 25-21. The third set was back-and-forth while the fourth set was a struggle for both teams but especially for Stanford, which hit just .057 and had eight errors. However, Stanford was able to rally back from the rut as Irvin led the final effort in the fifth set with a kill and block to ultimately end the set and win the match.

UCI actually outhit the Cardinal .269 to .256, with neither team having a great attack percentage. Senior outside hitter Brian Cook led the Cardinal with 18 kills and hit .350. Irvin also hit double digits in kills with 15. Irvin also recorded a double-double by adding a match-high 13 digs. UCI was led by outside hitters Jeremy Dejno with 17 kills and Connor Hughes with 14 kills.

Stanford hit .385 against UCSD the following night, marking the 19th time the Cardinal have hit over .300 this season. Once again, Cook led the team with 19 kills, hitting a close-to-perfect .677 for the night. It was one of Cook’s most impressive and formidable performances so far this season, demonstrating why he is one of the top players in the country. He had just one hitting error and consistently stepped up at key points throughout the match. Multiple seniors had powerful offensive performances, with Irvin recording 12 kills and Eric Mochalski recording seven. Stanford also had an impressive blocking night, with sophomore middle Conrad Kaminski recording eight blocks while Cook and Mochalski contributed three each.

While UC-San Diego ended the season 4-23 overall with only two conference wins, the Tritons had one of their best offensive performances of the season, hitting .336 for the night. Seniors Nick Iorfino and Johl Awerkamp, who had 15 and 14 kills respectively for the night, led their offense. Despite the impressive Senior Night performance by the Tritons, the dominant Cardinal proved too powerful for UCSD’s defense and were able to hold on to their win streak as the regular season drew to a close.

With its two wins this weekend, the team heads into the postseason with a guarantee to host a home match for the quarterfinals of the MPSF Tournament and will face UCI for a rematch on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.

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

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