By James Hemker
One quarter of the way through an eight-game home opener, No. 11 Stanford men’s volleyball (2-0) will face its first ranked threats, No. 14 Ball State and No. 7 Ohio State, tonight and Saturday, respectively.
The 11th-ranked Cardinal are undefeated through their first two games, which featured in-state competitors Menlo and UC Santa Cruz. This start is a marked improvement for the men, who began 0-4 last year and finished 6-20 in a dismal season. The squad is further spurred by the success of the women’s team, which captured its eighth NCAA Championship in December.
The Cardinal Revenge Tour is led this season by sophomore opposite Jaylen Jasper, who was named the MPSF Offensive Player of the Week for his stellar play across the first two matches. Jasper’s performances culminated with him hitting .654 and posting 3.17 kills and 4.33 points per set. Jasper’s 26 total points and 19 kills lead his teammates by a wide margin.
Jasper and setters junior Paul Bischoff and senior Russell Dervay are the key components of the highly efficient Cardinal offense, which currently (albeit with a small sample size) leads the nation in hitting percentage (.486) and is sixth in the nation in kills per set (12.67). Stanford has also been deadly from the service line, where the Cardinal are averaging 3.5 aces per set, another nation-leading statistic.
Fifth-year senior libero Kyle Dagostino is at the vanguard of a stifling Cardinal defense. Opponents have been allowed to hit only .079, which is good for second best in the nation.
Ball State (2-1) arrive at Stanford just after a crushing 0-3 loss to third-ranked UC Irvine. The last time that the Cardinal faced the Cardinals was nearly a year ago to the day. Stanford emerged victorious in a 3-0 sweep and claimed its first win of the season.
Stanford’s last matchup against Ohio State (2-0), which will be exactly a year ago, was not so sweet. The Cardinal managed to squeeze only a set in a 1-3 loss to the then top-ranked Buckeyes. Before Ohio State arrives in Palo Alto, they will have to face fifth-ranked BYU. As a result, the Buckeyes will enter Saturday’s game with either all or none of their momentum.
Tonight’s match against Ball State will commence at 7 p.m. PST in Maples. Saturday’s match will also have first serve at 7 p.m. PST, however it will be located in Burnham Pavilion.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu