Feb. 2, 2013
HONOLULU - In a set that swayed an entire match, Steven Irvin had the go-ahead kill in the midst of a career-best performance to boost Stanford in a three-hour marathon victory over Hawai'i on Friday night.
Irvin had a 27 kills - nine over his previous career-high -- to lead No. 3 Stanford, 25-23, 22-25, 33-31, 20-25, 15-9, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men's volleyball thriller before 3,011 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Stanford (7-2, 4-2) fought off eight set points in the pivotal third, with Irvin pounding eight kills in the set during a .548 overall hitting performance. Irvin also had three services aces in the match while Stanford earned its first road victory of the season, in a match that took 3 hours, 5 minutes to complete.
There were impressive numbers all around: Brian Cook had 20 kills, and Jake Kneller had 10 kills and a career-high 14 digs. Libero Grant Delgado also had a career-high, with 15 digs, and James Shaw had 53 assists.
But the singular play that may have been the turning point was made by libero Scott Sakaida. With Hawai'i having just a 31-30 lead and in the third, setting up its eighth set point, Sakaida dug the Warriors' serve and passed to Shaw, setting up a Brian Cook attack.
But the ball was blocked and Sakaida sprung to cover it, popping the ball up to Shaw, who set Kneller for the kill. Sakaida, playing in his hometown, may have saved the match with a play so quick that it was made purely on instinct.
Stanford was unable to sustain the momentum in the fourth set, but the one-set cushion allowed coach John Kosty to remove his starters when the Cardinal fell behind 21-12 and rest them for the fifth set.
Hawai'i (3-7, 2-5) didn't have that luxury, and its weariness may have contributed to Stanford's fast start in the final set. The Cardinal bolted to a 5-2 lead, with the help of three UH attack errors, and maintained it the rest of the way while earning its 10th victory over the Warriors in their past 12 matchups.
Stanford and Hawai'i (3-7, 2-5) complete their two-match season series on Saturday at 9 p.m. PT.