March 3, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. -
Stanford hitters Ed Howell and Jason Palacios each registered collegiate career highs in kills to lead the No. 7 Cardinal to a 30-21, 30-20, 30-21 nonconference men's volleyball victory over UC Santa Cruz at Burnham Pavilion on Tuesday night.
Howell had 12 kills (.556), four aces, five digs and three blocks for Stanford (12-7), which ran its winning streak to four. Palacios, sporting a handlebar mustache for the first time this season, had 11 kills, five digs and two aces.
The match was useful for the Cardinal, which rested regulars Kawika Shoji, Spencer McLachlin, Garrett Werner, Brandon Williams, and Erik Shoji.
Coach John Kosty gave starts to Howell, setter Miki Groppi, and middle blocker Max Halvorson for the first time this season. For Howell, a junior, and Halvorson, a sophomore, it marked their first collegiate starts.
"Jason and Ed had great matches," Kosty said. "That's what we need. And Miki did a great job setting the offense. He's a talented setter who at some point in the season we're going to have to rely on."
Howell said he had a great practice Monday and the match was a continuation of sorts.
"The coaches see me play in practice and liked what they saw," Howell said. "I really felt no pressure going in. I came in with good confidence and had a good day."
Groppi had 29 assists and two aces, while Halvorson had three kills and four blocks - the first in both categories of his collegiate career.
UCSC (10-7), which is ranked No. 5 in Division III, was led by Max McDaniel with 10 kills and zero errors for a .625 hitting percentage. But the Banana Slugs were held to a team hitting percentage of .092, the lowest for a Stanford opponent this season.
"As a team, we need to learn how to focus on our side of the net," said Stanford sophomore libero Jordan Inafuku, who received his first start of the season. "We need to focus in every match. We've learned that it really is about us."
Each team will next face No. 9 Lewis, of Romeoville, Ill., which plays at UCSC on Wednesday night. Lewis plays Stanford on Friday at Maples Pavilion and Saturday at Burnham.
The UCSC match marked the beginning of a stretch that concludes the regular season with 11 of 13 matches at home. Stanford is 4-1 at home in 19 matches overall.
"Guys are getting good experience, playing well and growing in confidence," Kosty said.