By Andrew Tan
Tonight, No. 8 Stanford men’s volleyball (9-5, 2-2 MPSF) will attempt to extend its current win streak to three games, playing Grand Canyon University (7-8, 0-3 MPSF). The Cardinal are currently ranked third in the Mountain Pacific Sports Conference, while the Lopes are last.
GCU’s record against ranked opponents is anything but grand: the Lopes have lost five of six games against top-15 opponents, including four sweeps. On the other hand, in their most recent match, GCU took No. 5 Pepperdine to the brink, losing in five sets. Though this game may be an anomaly, Stanford would do well not to overlook this upstart bunch if it hopes to avoid an upset and keep the pressure on No. 4 UCLA and Pepperdine, which currently sit above the Cardinal in MPSF rankings.
Stanford is rightly favored in this game, but because humanity has not yet discovered the sorcery that Mickey Mouse channeled in “Fantasia” to animate broomsticks, the Cardinal will have to bring out the brooms themselves. The focus then immediately centers on this season’s stars: sophomore opposite Jaylen Jasper, senior outside hitter Jordan Ewert and junior setter Paul Bischoff.
Jasper, who has quickly risen to great heights, both literally and figuratively, leads MPSF in kills with 206 and is second in kills per game (4.12). Providing the Cardinal with a strong secondary option, Ewert ranks seventh in MPSF with 168 kills and 10th in per game average (3.36). Meanwhile, Bischoff has a comfortable lead for first in MPSF assist rankings, averaging 10.41 per game for a total of 510.
Sure, these statistics sound nice and are a good conversation topic at any late-night debate over the best men’s volleyball players in MPSF, but they mean nothing if they don’t translate to the numbers that matter, namely the score of the game. Jasper, Ewert, Bischoff and company will have to replicate their two most recent performances against USC and Concordia to secure another home victory and take the first three of a four-game home stand.
The Cardinal seek to maintain momentum and move to 10-5 on the season tonight at 7 p.m. in Maples Pavilion.
Contact Andrew Tan at tandrew ‘at’ stanford.edu.