M. Volleyball: Tigers tamed

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The No. 5 Stanford men's volleyball team swept No. 13 Pacific at home on Tuesday night, keeping its hopes for both the regular-season MPSF title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament alive. (NICK SALAZAR/The Stanford Daily)

As the Stanford men’s volleyball team heads into the home stretch of the season, with only five games remaining, the Cardinal picked up a vital win at home on Tuesday night, sweeping through conference foe Pacific in three sets.

The No. 5 Cardinal (16-6, 13-5 MPSF) rode an 11-kill performance from senior Brad Lawson to blow past the No. 13 Tigers, 25-15, 25-19, 25-18, and pick up a big win in conference play.

The game was a critical matchup for both teams, as the Cardinal is among five teams that are vying for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, while the Tigers (7-17, 4-14) were just one loss short of the eighth and final spot for the playoffs before Tuesday’s loss.

After a Lawson kill made the score 7-7 in the first set, the Cardinal then caught fire, going on an 18-8 run to close out the first set and secure a 1-0 match lead.

The second set was more hotly contested, with the teams trading points for the entirety of the game to eventually tie the score at 19. But when the set got tight, Stanford responded by pounding out six consecutive points, including a service ace from Lawson, to capture the win.

The second set loss appeared to deflate the Tigers’ hopes in the third, as the Cardinal took an early lead and held it the entire way, never letting Pacific get a lead and comfortably closing out the match.

In addition to Lawson’s solid game, sophomore Brian Cook also contributed 10 kills, and fellow sophomore Eric Mochalski continued his hot play of late by adding seven kills on just nine attempts to end up with an impressive .667 hitting percentage.

With the essential victory on Tuesday, the Cardinal now turns its eyes ahead to the last four games of the season, which are all home contests against MPSF foes. Over the next two weeks, No. 5 Stanford will take on No. 8 Long Beach State, No. 12 Cal State-Northridge, UC-Santa Barbara and conference leader No. 3 UCLA. Every matchup will directly affect which team is seeded come conference tournament time.

The win over Pacific on Tuesday was also Cardinal head coach John Kosty’s 100th career victory, making him one of three Stanford men’s volleyball coaches to join the century club, along with Ruben Nieves and former U.S. National Team coach Fred Sturm.

Stanford returns to the court this Friday against Long Beach State. The Cardinal and the 49ers match up at Maples Pavilion at 7 p.m.

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