By James Hemker
Men’s volleyball has a rare three-match week on tap, visiting No. 3 Pepperdine before a pair of matches at No. 9 UCLA. The Cardinal (0-2, 0-2 MPSF) opened its season last week with a duo of tough losses to the Waves in Maples Pavilion.
Despite similar results, the team showed major improvement between its first two matches, and this third head-to-head matchup with Pepperdine (6-2, 6-2 MPSF) will be a tight one if the trend continues. After losing by 14 total points in the season-opener, Stanford halved the overall deficit to 7 points and took a set from Pepperdine. The Cardinal was within reach of claiming multiple frames, with sets in both matches going past 25 points.
Freshman Kupono Browne emerged as the star from last weekend, making his first collegiate start at opposite in the second match against Pepperdine. Browne dismantled the Waves’ defense, terminating 22 kills while committing just five errors for an excellent .368 hitting percentage. Browne was hot from the service line as well, serving up three aces across the four sets.
After Pepperdine, Stanford will clash with rival UCLA (5-3, 5-3 MPSF) this coming weekend. The competition will be the first of two series against UCLA, as the Bruins will travel to the Farm later this season. Thus far, UCLA has split matches in each of the series against BYU, USC and Concordia. In addition, they picked up an opening-day win against Grand Canyon University. The Bruins have an experienced lineup, with seven players having been with the program for at least four years.
Stanford’s match against Pepperdine will begin at 6:00 p.m. PT on Wednesday. First serve against UCLA will take place at 5:00 p.m. PT on Friday and 7:30 p.m. PT on Saturday.