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Card falls to LBSU, but not without a fight

[HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA/StanfordPhoto.com]

The sixth-ranked Stanford men’s volleyball team saw its season come to a close in a three-set defeat to No. 2 Long Beach State (23-7, 18-6 MPSF) on Saturday night, falling 21-25, 17-25, 28-30 in the quarterfinals of the MPSF Tournament. With the loss, the Cardinal finishes the season with a 15-13 (12-12 MPSF) record, marking the sixth-straight year that the team has finished with a winning record.

Playing with a competitive fire that was to be expected from a team faced with a win-or-go-home situation, the Cardinal erased an early 8-4 deficit in the first set to pull within one at 15-14 following a kill by junior outside hitter Brian Cook. Three consecutive LBSU kills followed by a block on junior outside hitter Steven Irvin’s attempt pushed the margin between the two teams back up to five at 19-14, allowing the 49ers to have the upper hand for the remainder of the set.

[HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA/StanfordPhoto.com]
Junior outside hitter Brian Cook (above) recorded 14 kills against LBSU, alongside teammates Steven Irvin, Taylor Crabb, and Ian Satterfield, with 17, 11, and 12 kills respectively. [HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA/StanfordPhoto.com]
The Cardinal would get no closer than two points, and LBSU would close out the set on a kill by senior middle-blocker Colten Echave. Stanford was held to just a .133 hitting percentage for the set, masking an errorless seven-kill performance by Cook.

Stanford’s hitting improved to a .286 clip in the second set, but it was no match for LBSU’s .458 percentage. Tied at six, the 49ers embarked on a 6-0 run sparked by Echave, who provided two kills and two blocks during the spurt that put LBSU back in control of the match. Despite eight kills by Irvin during the set, the Cardinal would never again pull closer than five. Junior opposite Ian Satterfield emphatically closed out the set with one of his team-high 12 kills to end the second set.

The third set provided most of the fireworks for the match, and again the Cardinal showed its resilience. Despite facing a 17-12 deficit in what would prove to be the team’s final set of the season, Stanford rallied all the way back to tie it at 21 after the 16th of Irvin’s match-high 17 kills for the night. The teams would trade points until a kill by Cook gave the Cardinal its first set point, one of the four that it would not be able to convert.

Kills by Satterfield erased two of these set points, but the Cardinal self-destructed at a time when it simply could not afford to do so, condemning itself to its fate with service errors on the other two set points. The match would end on an Irvin attack error, following the last kill by Satterfield and a kill by junior outside hitter Dalton Ammerman.

“I have to congratulate Long Beach. They are a great team who brought their A game when they needed to, and we didn’t,” said junior middle blocker Eric Mochalski. “We failed to stop what they wanted to do as well as they stopped what we wanted to do.”

For the match, Stanford finished with a .204 hitting percentage to LBSU’s .309. Irvin and Cook led the Cardinal with 17 and 14 kills respectively, while Satterfield and junior outside hitter Taylor Crabb led the 49ers with 12 and 11 each.

Despite the disappointing end to the season, the Cardinal figures to be back in the thick of the conference and perhaps national title hunt next season when it returns all six starters and a bevy of other contributors, plus a talented incoming freshman class.

“The future is bright for this team. Next year is going to be an exciting year for Stanford men’s volleyball,” said Mochalski.

Contact Daniel Lupin at delupin ”at” stanford.edu.

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