The No. 10 Stanford men’s volleyball team (12-7, 9-7 MPSF) made a statement this weekend in Southern California, knocking off two top-10 opponents in impressive performances. The Cardinal defeated No. 4 Pepperdine in four sets in Malibu on Friday and then went on to sweep No. 6 USC on Sunday for the team’s first win in the Galen Center since 2010. With the two wins, Stanford has returned to the middle of the MPSF standings heading into the final month of conference play.
With an efficient offensive performance in which Stanford hit .377 as a team, the Cardinal were able to knock off the Pepperdine Waves (10-5, 10-5) in four sets, 25-21, 15-25, 28-26, 25-21. Stanford started the match off aggressively, knowing it had to try to gain an early advantage in order to beat a team that had previously lost just one game at home this season. In that successful first set, the Cardinal hit .615, including 19 kills and just three errors.
While the Cardinal struggled in the second set, losing by 10, they were able to regain the offensive power they had in the first set to pull through the remainder of the match and clinch the win. Although the Cardinal were losing early in the third set, they bounced back to tie the set up at 15 and never looked back.
Senior outside hitter Steven Irvin led the Cardinal offense with 17 kills and three blocks. Fellow seniors Brian Cook and Eric Mochalski also contributed double-digit kills, with Cook at 16 and Mochalski at 13.
On Sunday, Stanford swept USC (11-7, 10-7) by continuing to dominate with its offense, this time in a historic manner (25-15, 25-14, 25-22). The team hit a season-high .527 in the match, a mark that ties the second-highest hitting percentage in program history in the rally-scoring era.
In the first set, the Cardinal gained an early lead and separated themselves with multiple runs, the longest being a seven-point streak. Again in the second set, Stanford scored the first four points and never let the Trojans take the lead. In the final set, the teams traded points for most of the set until the Cardinal took a 20-18 lead and powered through to win the game by four.
Mochalski led the Cardinal with 18 kills and a .667 hitting percentage. Irvin and sophomore setter James Shaw also added eight kills for the night. Meanwhile, Stanford’s defense was equally impressive, holding USC to a .258 hitting percentage. The Cardinal outblocked the Trojans 7-2 and also held USC to the lowest amount of points it has scored in a 25-point set all season with just 14 in the second set.
Stanford will face both Pepperdine and USC again in two weeks, this time with home-court advantage. But first, the Cardinal will host a doubleheader against No. 8 Hawaii on Friday and Saturday, with both matches set for 7 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.
Contact Eliza Thompson at elizat ‘at’ stanford.edu.