Feb. 13, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. -
Evan Romero opened the fourth set with four consecutive service aces to spark Stanford to a 30-25, 21-30, 30-28, 30-26 victory over defending NCAA men's volleyball champion UC Irvine at Burnham Pavilion on Saturday night.
"That was basically the difference in the match," Stanford coach John Kosty said. "It was Evan's serving right off the bat."
Brad Lawson led Stanford (7-3, 6-3) with 22 kills, helping offset Carson Clark's 28 for No. 11 UC Irvine (7-8, 3-7), and teammate Garrett Werner had a big night as well. The senior middle blocker had 12 kills, hit .526, and was in on seven of Stanford's 10 blocks.
Kawika Shoji had 58 assists, 15 digs, three kills, two blocks and an ace for the Cardinal.
Earlier, Romero helped steal the momentum back from UCI. Romero twice stuffed Anteaters' All-American Clark on set point in the second set. Though UCI scored the next point to win, Kosty gathered his team and challenged the Cardinal to use that momentum into the third set.
The result was a different Stanford performance during a third set that was tied 14 times before Lawson put it away.
"In that second set, it wasn't because we were playing poorly, we were trying to be aggressive," Kosty said. "And doing so, you have a chance to be overaggressive. The nice thing is, we fought back and did a great job of refocusing in Game 3 and playing more consistently."
Romero's lethal jump serves put Stanford in control of the fourth set, and the Cardinal never trailed.
"The first three were aimed where the outside hitters were," Romero said of his string of aces. "If you get them to pass the ball, they can't pass and then hit."
Romero entered the match with three aces and 21 service errors, and had only two errors Saturday while his jump serve was dead on.
"I finally found my serve," Romero said. "Before I'd been mixing in the float and jump serve. I finally gained that confidence back, and coach Kosty gave me the green light. Sometimes you just need anything to get the fire started."
Said Lawson, "That was a great momentum changer."
Though Stanford led the set by as many as six, UCI closed within two points on three occasions, the latest at 28-26. But an attack error by Clark followed fittingly by a Romero kill, ended the match.
The victory capped a strong weekend for Stanford that began with a three-set sweep of No. 3 UCLA and enabled Stanford to move into sole possession of second place in the 12-team MPSF, which features 11 teams among the nation's Top 15-ranked teams.
Stanford next travels to No. 7 Pepperdine on Friday and No. 2 USC on Saturday.