Feb. 3, 2012
PROVO, Utah -
The Stanford men's volleyball team took down No. 1 BYU on Friday night with such precision that a common feeling from the Cardinal side was: So, this is how it's done.
No. 7 Stanford took the crowd of 4,471 at Smith Fieldhouse out of the match by the third set and piled on behind a career-high 20 kills from sophomore Brian Cook and a career-best performance from sophomore Steven Irvin.
"We played how Stanford volleyball can play," Stanford coach John Kosty said.
In doing so, Stanford (6-2, 3-1) knocked the Cougars (6-2, 4-1) out of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation lead and pulled even for second place in the loss column behind UCLA (11-1, 6-0).
Kosty said the "key" was the play of Irvin, who had 14 kills, 12 digs and hit .476.
"That was the best match of his career so far," Kosty said. "He played a great all-around game."
After giving up a lead in the second set, Stanford served aggressively in the third and worked its passing game to near perfection. All-America libero Erik Shoji seemed to be in the path of every Cougar serve, and the Shoji-Evan Barry-outside hitter combination was on, allowing Stanford hitters to separate from the Cougars' imposing block.
Cook was at his best as Stanford broke contact in the third set, and had his first two solo blocks of the season - one in the third set and another in the fourth.
Barry, the setter who missed the final two sets of Stanford's previous match because of an injury, played the entire match and had 54 assists, seven digs and three kills. He also set the Cardinal to a .358 hitting percentage.
Cook exceeded his previous kill-high of 17, and Brad Lawson had 15 kills, five digs, and four blocks.
"We played composed the whole match and fed off the crowd," Kosty said. "It was a credit to the team and how they played on a big stage. And it showed that we have maturity even though we have a lot of sophomores.
"We came out and played hard and played consistently. The bottom line is, we did what we had to do."
BYU was playing without MPSF kill leader Taylor Sander, who suffered a broken hand in practice, but returned another All-America, middle Futi Tavana, who had not played since April because of a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The absence of Sander, who had taken 35 percent of the team's swings this season, made a difference, Kosty said.
"He was their guy," Kosty said. "When you take him out of the lineup ... They were searching tonight, and didn't find it."
It was Stanford's fourth consecutive victory over BYU, dating back to 2010. With a victory in Saturday night's rematch, Stanford has a chance to earn its' first-ever sweep in Provo.
Can Stanford do it again?