By Cybele Zhang
On Sunday, No. 9 Stanford men’s volleyball (5-1, 0-0 MPSF) fell short to No. 2 University of California, Irvine (6-1, 0-0 Big West) after a hard-fought four sets. Despite it being Stanford’s first loss of 2019, the Cardinal’s performance was admirable and proved that they are a force to be reckoned with this season.
The game was the second of a home double-header series; Stanford won the first game in four sets on Thursday. The Anteaters quickly rebounded, however, and learned from their mistakes to narrowly top the Cardinal, winning 30-28, 25-20, 23-25 and 25-23.
Irvine put on an offensive master class, and five players recorded double-digit kills. Opposite Karl Apfelbach led the Anteaters with 17 kills. The Cardinal held their own, however, and sophomore opposite Jaylen Jasper and senior outside hitter Jordan Ewert hit 21 and 19 kills, respectively.
Despite hitting well with 0.370 (UCI hit 0.391), Stanford struggled in receiving serve and gave up six aces. Nevertheless, the game was closely fought and easily could have gone either way.
It ultimately came down to the fourth set. The Cardinal were down 17-11, when Ewert led a comeback. The 6-foot-4 senior put up his first double-double of the season with 19 kills on 0.350 hitting and a career-high 17 digs. But his comeback drive came a little too late, and the Anteaters made it to 25 first — ending Stanford’s hope of an undefeated season.
Although unable to come away with the win, Ewert’s individual effort was rewarded yesterday when he was selected as MPSF Offensive Player of the Week. This is the third consecutive week that a a Cardinal player has won Player of the Week.
Despite the close and disappointing loss, the future of Stanford volleyball — especially a season led by Ewert and Jasper — is bright. The Cardinal will take the court next in a double-header on the Farm versus No. 15 Purdue Fort Wayne (4-2, 0-0 Summit League) on Friday and Saturday.
Contact Cybele Zhang at cybelez ‘at’ stanford.edu