Jan. 18, 2013
LOS ANGELES - The inability to maintain a lead was Stanford’s undoing in a men’s volleyball sweep at the hands of USC on Friday night.
No. 2 Stanford held leads late into the first and third sets, but was unable to finish them off in a 27-25, 25-18, 29-27 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation loss to the Trojans at Galen Center.
“We didn’t execute well enough,” Stanford coach John Kosty said. “Especially in crunch time.”
Stanford (4-1 overall, 1-1 in the MPSF) led 19-17 in the first set and had four set points in the fourth. In the opening set, the Cardinal still had a shot at 25-25, but a pair of attack errors doomed it. In the final set, Stanford led 24-22, but this time a service error and attack error allowed No. 7 USC (2-1, 2-1) to tie it.
Though Stanford had two more leads – at 25-24 and 27-26 – USC was the team that had the poise to close it out properly, earning its fifth consecutive victory over the Cardinal.
“We had a lot of opportunites we didn’t take care,” Kosty said. “The lesson has got to be consistency. You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game. But this league is pretty young and you’re going to see a lot of matches like this.”
Indeed. The MPSF has been wildly unpredictable, even after only two weeks of play. Stanford was the last undefeated team left in the 13-team conference. Defending national champion UC Irvine already has lost three times in MPSF play and USC was shocked in its opener by usual also-ran UC San Diego.
Brian Cook had 16 kills for the Cardinal, but he was the only Stanford player with double-digit kills. USC hit .402 as a team and was blocked only three times while earning its seventh victory at home over Stanford in the past eight seasons.
Stanford returns to action on Sunday with a 5 p.m. match at No. 4 Pepperdine (2-1, 1-0).
“We’ve got a good team and good personnel,” Kosty said. “We’ve just got to learn to be more consistent.”