By Jeremy Rubin
Men’s volleyball (1-10, 1-10 MPSF) was unable to avenge its early season losses to Pac-12 foe No. 6 UCLA (10-4, 11-4 MPSF) on Tuesday and Wednesday, falling in pair of matches at Maples Pavilion.
The two matches began on a positive note, as the Cardinal took the first set on Tuesday in gritty fashion. After falling behind 24-22 and on the brink of losing the point, back-to-back clutch kills from sophomore outside hitter Will Rottman tied up the score. From there, the two teams traded scores until a service error and an ace from sophomore middle blocker Nathaniel Gates sealed a 37-35 Cardinal win.
However, Stanford was unable to maintain the positive momentum it gained in the first set. The Cardinal never threatened from there, cracking the 20 mark just one more time in the second set, which ended in a 25-21 loss. Two straight set losses by eight points sealed the 3-1 Bruins victory.
In the defeat, Stanford had just a .281 hit percentage, while UCLA was more than 150 points higher, registering a .437 percentage. Rottman finished with 16 kills and seven digs, and freshman outside hitter Aidan Peters contributed 12 and nine, respectively.
The Bruins picked up where they left off on Wednesday, winning in straight sets to complete the sweep. The first set was again Stanford’s best performance, as the team took a 22-21 lead before dropping three of the next four points to lose 25-23. The lone Cardinal point came via a kill from senior middle blocker Kyler Presho. Presho finished with a .600 hitting percentage, six kills and two blocks.
Sophomore setter Nathan Lietzke compiled 26 assists — after picking up 40 on Tuesday — to go along with six digs and one of the team’s two aces in the contest. Gates had the other and an additional four kills. Both teams shot very similarly to the day before, as the Bruins hit at a .432 clip compared to the Cardinal’s .278.
Stanford will next travel to Los Angeles for three matches in three days against USC (2-8, 2-8 MPSF), the first of which is set for Friday at 5 p.m. PT. This is the first head-to-head matchup for the two teams in 2021.