By Cybele Zhang
Looking to rebound from a close loss on Saturday against the No. 3 UC Irvine (6-1, 0-0 Big West), No. 8 Stanford men’s volleyball (5-1, 0-0 MPSF) will now play another home double-header versus No. 15 Purdue Fort Wayne (4-2, 0-0 Summit League) on Friday and Saturday nights. The games will test the Cardinal’s ability to rebound after their first loss and will show how resilient Stanford really is.
Although the Mastodons are not known as a volleyball powerhouse, they have proven that they should not be slept on this season. Purdue Fort Wayne held their own — despite losing — against No. 10 California State, Northridge (5-2, 0-0 Big West) and No. 12 UC Santa Barbara (5-3, 0-0 Big West) earlier this month.
Outside hitter Pelegrin Varga leads Purdue Fort Wayne in kills with 76 this season, hitting 0.346; the Mastodons as a team are hitting 0.296 on the season. The 6-foot-4 Varga from San Juan, Puerto Rico also leads the team in points per set, averaging 4.50.
The Mastodons are relatively new to Division I athletics. They competed in Division II from 1984 to 2001, when they made the switch. The university currently offers 14 varsity sports and has an undergraduate enrollment of 8,746.
On the other side of the net, Stanford’s play should be pretty predictable. Unlike prior seasons, the team’s 2019 lineup has been very constant; Head Coach John Kosty has used the same starting lineup in all six matches so far.
Stanford ranks third in the nation in hitting percentage with 0.364. Junior setter Paul Bischoff leads the Cardinal in hitting percentage with 0.600, when looking at players with over ten attempts. Stanford is also third in the nation in assists per set with 12.86 — another impressive statistic thanks to Bischoff.
Individually, sophomore outside hitter Jaylen Jasper leads the Cardinal in kills per set with 4.05 and will need to be productive this weekend to help Stanford secure two more victories. Jasper also helps the Cardinal from the service line; he has eight aces on the season.
With two potential wins, Stanford hopes to move up in the AVCA Division I-II Men’s Coaches’ Poll rankings. Last week, Stanford ascended one spot after a win and a loss against Irvine. There are currently four MPSF teams ranked in the top 10, setting the stage for tightly fought conference play to come.
First serve will be a 6 p.m. PST in Maples Pavilion on Friday and will be at 7 p.m. PST in Burnham Pavilion on Saturday.