Stanford men’s volleyball journeyed to Southern California this past weekend, opening the 2014 season at the 50th ASICS Tournament at UC-Santa Barbara. The Cardinal, ranked No. 5 nationally in the preseason polls, went 2-3 in its five matches during the two-day tournament, including an impressive come-from-behind win against No. 2 UCLA in the Cardinal’s only official match.
Stanford faced Harvard in its first match, losing 29-27, 25-20. The Card played Pacific next, winning in two sets. While both sets were close, Stanford seemed in control of its lead throughout each frame and played with confidence all match long. Stanford went on to play both Cal Baptist and UCSB, losing to both in three sets. The Cardinal lost the first set to Cal Baptist but rallied to win the second set, before losing the match in the third set 15-12. The matchup against the Gauchos was a similar story: Stanford lost the first set, won the second 26-24, but let UCSB pull out to an early lead in the third and final set, ultimately falling short.
The highlight of Stanford’s tournament came on Saturday when it downed No. 2 UCLA, recording its second victory of the tournament. After losing the first set 25-22, the Cardinal turned up the heat against the Bruins. Stanford quickly scored against UCLA in the second set, jumping out to a 15-9 advantage and forcing UCLA to call a timeout. Stanford went on to win the second frame 25-18, evening the match at one apiece. John Kosty’s squad prevailed again in set three 25-18 and set four 25-22, winning the match — the key to the victory was consistent play and a strong offensive performance. Furthermore, Stanford was able to maintain its lead throughout each set.
Stanford hit .433 for the match and had four players with double-digit kills. Senior outside hitters Brian Cook and Steven Irvin led the match on offense, with 16 and 14 kills, respectively. Sophomore middle Conrad Kaminski had a very strong performance as well with a team-high .769 attack percentage and five blocks. Sophomore setter James Shaw also demonstrated his consistency and offensive skill, notching 53 assists.
The victory over the Bruins was the first official match for both squads, giving Stanford a 1-0 record to begin the 2014 campaign. Stanford’s home opener is this Friday at Maples Pavilion against No. 10 Lewis University, and the Cardinal will conclude its weekend homestand with Grand Canyon on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Contact Eliza Thompson at elizat ‘at’ stanford.edu.