After dropping Friday’s match against No. 5 UC Irvine (19-6, 13-5 MPSF), No. 8 Stanford men’s volleyball was able to turn it around and secure a win on Saturday, sweeping UC San Diego (7-19, 3-15) in the final match of the regular season. With the win, Stanford closes out the regular season with a record of 13-12 and 8-10 in MPSF play.
On Friday, the Cardinal were paced once again by fifth-year senior Gabriel Vega, who tallied 20 kills in four sets, but the outside hitter struggled with accuracy, hitting just .140 on the night. Over the course of the match, the UCI defense was dominant, keeping the Stanford hitters off balance and doubling the Cardinal’s blocks, 16.0 to 8.0.
Stanford fought hard, but the Anteaters came out on top in the first set, securing a 32-30 win in overtime. Irvine dominated the second set, holding the Cardinal to a low hitting percentage and easily taking the set 25-18. In order to avoid the sweep, Stanford battled back in the third, taking three straight points to win the set after trailing 25-24. Despite a late rally by the Cardinal in the fourth, the Anteaters were ultimately victorious, capping off the match victory with a 25-22 final score.
It took Stanford five sets to defeat UC San Diego last weekend, but on Saturday, the Cardinal only needed three.
Vega was once again electric, racking up 16 kills along with seven digs and an ace, but senior middle Kevin Rakestraw made a big mark, hitting a season-high .750 with 12 kills and no errors. UCSD was playing without its scoring leader, junior Tanner Syftestad, who was injured in the Tritons’ previous match against Pepperdine.
Stanford quickly took a 7-2 lead in the first and controlled the set throughout, claiming a 25-15 win. The Tritons kept it closer in the second set and managed to tie the score at 14-all before the Cardinal took four of the next five points to pull back ahead on their way to a 25-22 victory. UCSD tied the score at 24 and 25 apiece in the third set, forcing extra points, but consecutive kills from Rakestraw handed Stanford the 28-26 win and the sweep.
The Cardinal will enter the postseason as the No. 7 seed and will face off against No. 2 BYU on the road on Saturday.
Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.