By James Hemker
Stanford men’s volleyball (4-0) lit up Burnham Pavilion Saturday night as the team rolled over No. 7 Ohio State (2-2) in four sets. The Buckeyes, who had given up only one set in the two schools’ last three meetings, are the first to fall in the 2019 Stanford Revenge Tour.
“You know they are a good team,” said head coach John Kosty. “We stood tough and we didn’t let them streak points. That was the key for us.”
The Stanford offense was paced by sophomore opposite Jaylen Jasper, who had a season-high 16 kills. Junior outside hitter Jordan Ewert was incredibly efficient, racking up 13 kills on 21 swings and committing only one error. The team ended the night hitting at a .360 clip. Junior setter Paul Bischoff made it all happen with his 37 assists.
While the 11th-ranked Cardinal won in just four sets, each set was a war unto itself. The first set stayed within two points all the way to 21-19 and featured 12 tie scores.
The longest rally of the night then occurred; the ball was sent over the net six times. The point, which featured multiple somersaults while players dove for digs, ended when junior middle blocker Stephen Moye gave Jasper a perfect set for the kill.
The 22-19 lead for Stanford was the largest thus far, and the men were able to capitalize, claiming the first set 25-22. The offense was on fire, racking up 15 kills while hitting .609 in the frame.
The second set started close again, as the two teams battled to 6-6, but the Buckeyes found their footing and extended their lead up to 14-18. Critically, sophomore middle blocker Kyler Presho kickstarted a 5-0 run by drilling back-to-back aces.
The Buckeyes stopped the slide after a timeout, and the score tallied up to 24-24. From there they were able to find openings and take the second set 26-24. Despite the close score, the Stanford offense was limited to hitting .000, and the team was carried by its prowess at the service line.
The team found four of their six aces of the night in the second set. On his own aces, Presho said, “My serve is what I’ve been working on the most over the offseason and I’m excited to bring it to another level during the course of this season.”
After the second set, it appeared Stanford’s momentum was gone while the Buckeyes snatched a fast 1-4 lead. A kill by Moye and a Bischoff block were able to bring life back to the Cardinal.
A huge slam by Jasper sent the Cardinal bench into hysterics as Stanford found its first lead at 10-9. From that point, it was relatively smooth sailing for Stanford. They maintained a two- to three-point cushion, then extended their lead to 24-20 with another Jasper kill.
Moye showcased his own prowess from the service line and aced Ohio State for set three. There were only seven tied scores in the third set, as opposed to 25 in the first two.
The fourth and final set turned shades of Cardinal very quickly. The last lead change of the set came at 3-2. From that point, Ewert set the tone with two huge kills which forced a desperate Buckeyes timeout at 7-4.
Whatever they discussed did not help because Presho put a roof over Ohio State with consecutive blocks. Presho, the team’s leading blocker, finished with five stuffs on the night.
The Buckeyes threatened with a small 3-0 run, but that was still only good enough to close the gap 15-12.
Moye was then able to produce two huge kills and set Stanford up for matchpoint.
A service error by Ohio State, a problematic theme for them all night, ended the night and gave every Stanford player their first career win against the Buckeyes.
“One of our seniors said that he’s never beaten Ohio State, and he’s a fifth-year senior,” Jasper said. “Just hearing that really fired me up, knowing that I could give him something that he hasn’t achieved in five years here.”
Stanford will resume its Revenge Tour against UC Irvine with consecutive matches on Jan. 17 and Jan. 19, both at 7 p.m. in Maples.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu