Feb. 9, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford freshman setter Joe Ctvrtlik received his first start and took advantage of the opportunity, guiding leading the Cardinal to a sweep of UC San Diego on Saturday at Maples Pavilion.
It was a much-needed triumph for the Cardinal, which salvaged a split of its only home weekend in 34 days. Stanford now must carry what momentum it can muster to improve upon its 1-3 road record, and will have to do so at places like No. 1 BYU and No. 3 Long Beach State over the next two weeks.
In an effort to create that momentum, Stanford coach John Kosty conjured up his eighth different lineup this season, and hit the jackpot with Ctvrtlik, the son of two-time world player of the year and Olympic gold medalist Bob Ctvrtlik, at setter and junior Denny Falls in the middle.
“Joe gave us a solid balanced offense, and I think he sets the quicks really well,” Kosty said. “I felt we needed to change things up a little bit tonight and I’m pleased with the performance that we got from Joe and Denny Falls, and I thought Jake Kneller (nine kills, .538) had a great match tonight too. So, it was a good follow-up to last night’s match.”
The Cardinal bounced back from a four-set loss to visiting No. 1 UC Irvine at Burnham Pavilion on Friday night, ending Stanford’s home winning streak at 12, but allowing the Cardinal on Saturday to extend its Maples Pavilion streak to 11 and continue its mastery of UCSD (4-10, 2-8) by taking a 40-3 series lead.
One improvement: The UCI loss featured a combined 39 kills from Cook and Irvin, but little offense from everybody else. That wasn’t quite the case this time.
“I enjoyed watching our middles get back into the action,” said Kosty, who got .389 hitting and nine kills from Haly and Falls.
“Our passing needs to be more consistent,” he continued. “We need to take the opportunies when they’re given to us, and not force it, and I think we did a good job of taking the opportunities and not trying to force balls in there. When the opportunity arose, we did set it, and that’s something we didn’t do as much of last night.”
Whether Ctvrtlik’s starting assignment is the sign of the future or whether fellow freshman James Shaw will return to the lineup is undetermined. At the least, Kosty now knows he can trust Ctvrtlik, who had 33 assists, eight digs, and three blocks, including one solo.
“I was really happy with our performance tonight,” Kosty said. “But in the MPSF, we’ve got to get our road wins. Long Beach is on a roll and Northridge is tough. It’s a test.”
At least Ctvrtlik, and teammates, passed this one – among the many they will face in the coming weeks.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics