April 16, 2010
LOS ANGELES - The No. 1 Stanford men's volleyball team lost to No. 7 UCLA on Friday and now must get help on the final night of the regular season to secure the top seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
Stanford could have controlled its own fate by sweeping two matches on the final weekend, but instead was unable to stop UCLA from rallying to a 30-23, 23-30, 21-30, 30-26, 15-7 victory at Pauley Pavilion. Now, Stanford (18-6, 15-6) drops into a first place tie with BYU.
The only way Stanford can clinch the No. 1 seed and homecourt advantage throughout the eight-team conference tournament which determines the MPSF's lone automatic NCAA berth is to win at No. 8 UC Irvine on Saturday and hope No. 2 BYU loses to visiting Cal State Northridge.
"I told the team afterward that it comes back to the need to get back on the winning track," Stanford coach John Kosty said. "And you have to understand that there are eight talented teams that are going to give everything they have in the tournament. We've got to compete hard if we want to win."
Stanford can earn a share of its first conference title since 1997 with a victory, regardless of what happens to BYU, but the Cougars hold the tiebreaker edge over Stanford for MPSF Tournament seeding purposes.
Evan Romero had 19 kills, Brad Lawson had 17 and Spencer McLachlin 13 for Stanford, but the Cardinal was hurt by 23 service errors.
Stanford quickly fell behind 7-1 in the fifth set and could not mount a comeback thereafter, allowing UCLA to improve to 16-12, 11-10.
Stanford can still finish as low as the fourth seed, even though the Cardinal can finish no lower than a second-place tie in the MPSF standings. But, as it stands now, Stanford is the No. 2 seed and would play host to UCLA in a rematch April 24 in the first round of the MPSF Tournament.
Stanford could lose to UCI and still earn a share of the MPSF title if BYU loses. In one such scenario, there could be a four-way tie for the MPSF title.