By James Hemker
Friday night saw the worst performance of the year from the No. 8 men’s volleyball team (12-7, 1-1 MPSF) as they were destroyed by top-ranked Long Beach State (16-0, 2-0 Big West) in three sets, 18-25, 13-25, 14-25.
The second and third sets marked the first time Stanford was held to less than 15 points this year. Their .230 hitting percentage was the second worst output on the season, and senior outside hitter Jordan Ewert was the only Cardinal with more than five kills. His seven kills (hitting .357) broke a 10 game streak of double-digit kills.
Sophomore opposite Jaylen Jasper hit negative for the first time this season, with four kills and five errors. Jasper took his fourth consecutive start at the left pin as junior opposite Eli Wopat got the opposite slot. After the first set, Jasper replaced Wopat, and sophomore outside hitter Leo Henken came in to take over pass and receive duties. Late in the second set, Wopat came back in to replace Jasper, who did not return to the match.
Henken and Wopat each recorded three kills on .600 and .091 hitting, respectively. Henken also contributed an ace in the middle of the second set. Early in the third frame, junior middle blocker Stephen Moye added another ace.
Moye found four kills, and his sophomore counterpart Kyler Presho managed three kills on four swings. For the first time all season, Moye failed to record a block. Presho and junior setter Paul Bischoff managed to find Stanford’s only stuff. Bischoff’s 21 assists were his lowest total since the first game of the season in which he only played two sets.
Senior libero Kyle Dagostino’s team-high three digs accounted for almost half of the team’s seven total digs.
The defending national champions, Long Beach ended the night hitting .665, the most an opponent has put up on the Cardinal this year. The 49ers were led by outside hitter TJ DeFalco, who paced the floor with 11 terminations on .600 hitting. The worst Long Beach attacker hit for .500.
The 49ers attacked the Cardinal from the service line all night, racking up six aces. The serves that Stanford could keep in play were often wild passes that either led to free balls from Long Beach or poor sets from Bischoff.
Stanford is now 1-7 when outhit by their opponent, and through six matches, the team is still searching for its first road win. Saturday night will present a good bounce-back opportunity in the form of UC San Diego (6-12, 0-4 Big West). The UCSD Tritons fell to the Cardinal in three sets at Maples two weeks ago.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.