By James Hemker
St. Francis stunned the No. 7 men’s volleyball team with a five-set win in Loretto, PA on Wednesday night. The Cardinal won the first two sets before collapsing and dropping their first match of the 2020 season.
Junior opposite Jaylen Jasper terminated a team-high 24 kills on .356 hitting. Senior outside Eric Beatty bounced 15 more balls at an efficient .357, which ranks as his highest kill count since February 2018.
Senior setter Paul Bischoff turned in 48 assists, and thanks to Jasper and Beatty, the team’s hitting percentage rested at .298.
Outside of these two pin hitters, however, the Cardinal struggled to find any production. Freshman outside Will Rottman was able to turn in nine kills, but no one else had more than three. The middles — senior Stephen Moye and junior Kyler Presho — were given few chances, and when the chances came, they could not capitalize. The two combined for six kills on .071 hitting.
Unfortunately, St. Francis hit at an identical rate (.297), and the Red Flash were able to put points on the board just as easily. Outside hitter Michael Fischer paced all players with 29 kills for St. Francis. Stanford could not slow Fischer down, as he hit a wildly efficient .537.
Defensively, St. Francis was able to adapt while the Cardinal struggled to contain as the match went on. In an effort to save the game, the Red Flash subbed out starting setter B.J. Blair for junior back-up Roman Szwabinsky. The change worked.
After winning the first two sets 25-15, 25-19, Stanford let the Red Flash hit .423 for the rest of the match. Szwabinsky finished his three frames with 40 assists, just eight behind Bischoff, who played every point. The Stanford big men were unable to keep up, as eight of the Cardinal’s 10 blocks came in the first two frames. Presho led Stanford with six, and Beatty contributed five.
St. Francis recorded 15 blocks over the five sets, including nine in the three they won. The fateful fifth set opened to a quick 3-0 Red Flash lead thanks to back-to-back blocks. From there, the underdogs kept a four-to-five point cushion all the way to 15-11.
Back in action this weekend, the Cardinal have little time to dwell on the loss. At the AVCA Showcase in Fairfax, VA, Stanford will first play New Jersey Institute on Friday at 2 p.m. and then George Mason on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.