Feb. 21, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
Kawika Shoji served an ace and four consecutive points late in the fifth set to help No. 7 Stanford rally to a 30-26, 26-30, 24-30, 30-21, 15-13 victory over No. 13 UC Santa Barbara in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men's volleyball action Saturday.
Stanford trailed 12-9 in the decisive set until Evan Romero forced sideout with a kill, and Shoji's serving aided a run of five consecutive points to give Stanford a 14-12 lead. Spencer McLachlin, with help from a Shoji assist, finished the match with a kill of his own.
McLachlin and Brad Lawson led Stanford (9-7, 5-6) with 22 kills apiece, while Shoji provided 65 assists, three aces and six digs.
But it was Garrett Werner who may have gotten the Cardinal over the top. The junior middle blocker had 12 kills with zero errors in 21 attacks, for a .571 hitting percentage. Werner also had six blocks.
Jeff Menzel tallied 29 kills for the Gauchos (4-9, 2-8).
Midway through the MPSF season, coach John Kosty said he likes where his Stanford team is right now.
"As much as I don't like our record, we're in a really good spot," Kosty said. "We're playing close to .500 in league and we've only played four home games."
Stanford next plays a pair of matches at the University of Hawaii, on Thursday and Saturday, providing a homecoming for the Cardinal's six Hawaiian players, including four starters: setter Kawika Shoji, libero Erik Shoji, and outside hitters McLachlin and Lawson. The others are libero Jordan Inafuku and middle blocker Max Halvorson.
"We're looking forward to it, but to be successful, we have to win on the road," Kosty said. "The media spotlight will be on, but when we get there, it has to be business as usual."
But here's why Kosty is so confident about Stanford's position this season: Following the Hawaii trip, Stanford plays 11 of its 13 final regular-season matches at home. First, the Cardinal plays four home nonconference matches, with two weeks off for dead week and finals, which will allow the team to rest and train in a training-camp atmosphere.
Finally, Stanford plays seven of its final nine MPSF matches at Maples Pavilion.
Thus far, the road hasn't been kind. Saturday's victory over UCSB was Stanford's first in six road matches against ranked MPSF teams.