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Men’s volleyball’s winning streak halted with back-to-back losses

(HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA/isiphotos.com)

Despite riding a three-match winning streak heading into its weekend road trip, No. 7 Stanford men’s volleyball (6-4, 3-2 MPSF) lost back-to-back matches on Friday and Saturday. The Cardinal dropped their Friday match against No. 14 CSUN (9-3, 2-3) 31-29, 25-16, 25-18 and were swept again less than 24 hours later by No. 3 Long Beach State (9-2, 5-1) 30-28, 25-14, 25-18.

Fifth-year senior outside hitter Gabriel Vega led Stanford with a season-high 13 kills in the Cardinal’s 3-0 loss to No. 3 Long Beach State on Saturday that sealed a losing Southern California road trip for Stanford. (HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA/isiphotos.com)

Stanford was held to a season-low .115 team hitting percentage against CSUN, while the Matadors hit .417 on the other side. CSUN sophomore opposite Arvis Greene was unstoppable, racking up a match-high 26 kills as the Cardinal were unable to get their offense going throughout the match.

The competitive opening set featured 14 tie scores and eight lead changes, but Stanford’s 17 kills were not enough to capture the set. The set fell into extra points, before CSUN tipped the scales with a trio of crucial kills to come back from a 29-28 deficit and claim the first set. While the Cardinal nailed 17 kills in the opening set, the offense lost steam to total 17 kills in the second and third set combined. The Matadors, who lead the NCAA in hitting percentage, hit .621 in the second set and led during the entire third to lock down the win.

Sophomore outside hitter Jordan Ewert paced Stanford with 10 kills while fifth-year senior outside hitter Gabriel Vega and sophomore outside hitter Matt Klassen chipped in with eight and seven kills, respectively. Freshman setter Paul Bischoff notched 26 assists and junior libero Evan Enriques collected a team-best 10 digs.    

Stanford needed to bring a balanced offense into its match against Long Beach State to compete with the higher-seeded team, but offensive stumbles made the Long Beach Game almost a mirror image of the CSUN match.

The Cardinal came out strong with 15 kills on .355 hitting in the first, but the 49ers came back and managed to put the set away after several set points and lead changes down the stretch. Long Beach State would end the match with a .418 hitting percentage to Stanford’s .122. The Cardinal were also out-blocked 11-6.

Vega led Stanford with a season-high 13 kills on a .476 hitting percentage, but no other Stanford player earned more than three kills as the team combined for just 16 kills in the second and third sets. Bischoff and junior Kyle Dagostino shared duties at setter, tallying 14 and 11 assists, respectively.

Stanford will head home to take on No. 2 UCLA next Thursday at 6 p.m. and No. 11 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both teams are also coming off consecutive losses, and the Cardinal will have an opportunity to bounce back in front of a home crowd. Both matches will be played in Maples Pavilion and the match-up against the Bruins will be streamed on the Pac-12 Networks.

 

Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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