Feb. 23, 2013
PROVO, Utah - Is it more comforting to lose after playing poorly or playing great?
Unfortunately for Stanford, the Cardinal men's volleyball team may have insight into that answer after a 23-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21, 15-13 loss at No. 2 BYU before 3,308 at Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
No. 5 Stanford had one of its strongest performances of the season, hitting .354 as a team and getting 23 kills each from Brian Cook and Steven Irvin. But after James Shaw's ace closed out the third set, Stanford led on only one point over the final two sets.
"I thought we played a good match," Stanford coach John Kosty said. "Some of the best volleyball we've played so far. We played well enough to win, but didn't take advantage of our opportunities when we had them."
That lead came at 10-9 in the fifth set, after a three-point Cardinal run, which culminated in a bad BYU set and a tiebreaking point. However, BYU freshman Ben Patch had three kills during a 4-1 run, allowing the Cougars to take command.
The final point, on the 26th kill by Patch, was out, but a fingertip touch by a Stanford blocker was enough to give BYU the victory. Otherwise, the Cardinal would have drawn into a 14-14 tie.
The Cardinal played with a scrappy effort. The Cardinal only had five blocks, but had 45 digs. Irvin had a .486 hitting percentage and joined Cook with seven digs apiece.
BYU, which also got 25 kills from Taylor Sander, hit .378 in snapping a six-match losing streak to Stanford.
"Even though we didn't win, we had some really solid performances," Kosty said. "The guys battled to the end."
Freshman setter Shaw had a collegiate-high 60 assists, plus eight digs for Stanford, which makes its first trip to new Mountain Pacific Sports Federation member California Baptist on Monday in Riverside.
Stanford (9-6 overall, 6-6 MPSF) reaches the midpoint of the conference season in sixth place, but will have six of its final 11 matches at home. First-place BYU (11-3, 10-2), in contrast, has 10 of its final 12 on the road.