No. 6 Men's Volleyball Tested, but Prevails 3-2
Cardinal Defeat Aztecs to Improve to 3-0
Jan. 24, 1998
STANFORD, Calif. - The defending national champion and sixth-ranked Stanford men's volleyball team needed all five games to dispose of upset-minded San Diego State, eventually coming out on top 3-2 (15-3, 9-15, 15-9, 10-15, 15-13) in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matchup. With the win, the Cardinal improved to 3-0 (2-0 MPSF) while the loss dropped the Aztecs to 0-2 (0-2 MPSF).
Playing the game without starters Andy Witt, a 1997 first team All-American, and Keenan Whitehurst, Stanford looked as if they wouldn't be missed, cruising to a 15-3 game one victory. Junior outside hitter Patrick Klein (Pacific Palisades, CA/Loyola HS) paced the Cardinal attack in the opening game, recording seven kills and hitting .636. As a team, the Cardinal posted a .553 (23-2-38) clip.
San Diego State would change the momentum of the match in game two, jumping out to leads of 4-1 and 7-2. Stanford rallied to within three (10-7) before the Aztecs put the game away 15-9 on a 5-2 run.
The Aztecs would again take the early lead in game three (4-1) but Stanford took advantage of SDSU's passing game, which gave the Cardinal three easy kills on overpasses, to help string together an 8-0 run that put the game out of reach. The Cardinal would eventually take game three 15-9.
For the third consecutive game, San Diego State jumped out to the early lead (4-0), providing the cushion it would need to hold on for a 15-10 win and push the match to a deciding game five.
A back-and-forth battle in the final game, it would be Klein's performance that would deliver the Cardinal to victory. Klein accounted for seven of Stanford's points on four kills, two service aces and one block assists. In a game which saw six ties, the last coming at 12-12, the cardinal held on for a 15-13 win.
Getting a rare start due to the absence of Witt and Whitehurst, Klein made the most of the opportunity, recording career-high's in kills (35), service aces (3) and digs (7). The kills represented a match-high. Senior middle blocker Tad Hoffman added 25 kills while freshman setter Josh Lukens (San Diego, CA/Mt. Carmel HS) pitched in 77 assists in the winning effort. SDSU senior outside hitter Matt Hyden led the Aztecs with 22 kills.
"The team really pulled together and stepped up in the absence of (Andy) Witt and (Keenan) Whitehurst," said Stanford head coach Ruben Nieves. "Pat (Klein) and Tad (Hoffman) in particular picked up the slack and Jeremy Bart had a fine performance in his first real match as a middle blocker."