CHICAGO – The third-seeded Stanford men’s volleyball team grinded out a five-set win in true Cardinal fashion, taking out No. 2 seed BYU (25-18, 21-25, 22-25, 29-27, 15-12), Thursday, in the NCAA semifinals at Gentile Arena in Chicago, Ill.
Stanford reaches the national title match for the fifth time in program history, having won the title in 1997 and 2010. The Cardinal is a perfect 5-0 in NCAA semifinal matches.
The fourth time was a charm for the Cardinal, which had lost its previous three matches to the Cougars this season, including the MPSF tournament finals in Provo on April 26.
Stanford won the opening set, 25-18, but fell behind 2-1. It took a hard-fought 29-27 comeback in the fourth set, which had 19 tie scores and eight lead changes, to push the match to a fifth and final set. Again, the Cardinal had to rally from behind to seal the victory on a kill by senior Brian Cook.
The Cardinal outhit the Cougars .333 to .275, registering a season-high 69 kills. Cook led the team in kills for the 23rd time this season, finishing with 19 kills, 10 digs and three blocks. Senior opposite Eric Mochalski registered 18 kills on a .382 hitting percentage and five digs. He also tallied two blocks, one of which was a key point in the fifth set.
Senior outside hitter Steven Irvin added 17 kills, 12 digs and four blocks. Sophomore middle Conrad Kaminski pitched in with four kills, three blocks and four aces. He closed out the fourth set with an ace and then opened the fifth with an aces as well. Junior middle Spencer Haly totaled four kills and a team-best six blocks.
BYU was led by senior Taylor Sander, the AVCA National Player of the Year, who had a match-high 28 kills on a .375 hitting percentage and four aces. Josue Rivera added 10 kills, 11 digs and five blocks.
Stanford now awaits the winner between top-seed and host Loyola Chicago and No. 5 seed Penn State for a national title date on Saturday, May 3. The match will be televised live on ESPNU at 5 p.m. PT.