Jan. 18, 2012
LOS ANGELES -
Moses' exodus took 40 years, Stanford's will take 40 days.
That's how long the Cardinal men's volleyball team will go between home matches as it endures a 10-match road stretch that covers 7,617 miles and five weekends away.
To jump to a quick start in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the Cardinal must navigate its way through nine road matches to start the conference season.
After playing a single match at Pacific last week, No. 4 Stanford (3-0 overall, 1-0 MPSF) opens conference play in earnest with matches at No. 3 UCLA on Friday and No. 13 UC Santa Barbara, a 2011 NCAA finalist, on Saturday.
At the end of the season, Stanford will make up for all those miles, playing 11 of its final 13 at home.
Friday: No. 4 Stanford (3-0, 1-0) at No. 3 UCLA (5-1, 0-0), 7 p.m.
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Saturday: Stanford at No. 13 UC Santa Barbara (2-2, 0-0), 7 p.m.
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Last week: Stanford opened its season with three victories in four nights, first sweeping host and No. 15 Pacific (25-21, 21-17, 21-19) on Wednesday in an MPSF opener. The Cardinal then beat Juniata (25-13, 20-25, 25-14, 25-14) on Friday in a home opener, and swept visiting and No. 14 Loyola-Chicago (25-19, 25-11, 25-21) on Saturday.
Hot Hitting: Stanford is hitting .438 as a team after producing two of the top-10 team hitting performances of the rally-scoring era (since 2001). Stanford hit .515 against Juniata - with only 11 errors in 99 swings - for the third-highest percentage in school history. The Cardinal followed with a .468 performance against Loyola for the 10th-highest.
Record Setter: Sophomore middle blocker Eric Mochalski, whose father David played on UCLA's 1982 NCAA championship team, set a Stanford single-match record by hitting .833 in the Loyola sweep. Mochalski had 10 kills and no errors in 12 attacks to break the mark of .824 by Craig Buell against UC Irvine in 2003.
Friday's Opponent, UCLA:
The No. 3 Bruins have rebounded after a 2011 eighth-place MPSF finish under Al Scates, in his 50th and final season as the Bruins' head coach. UCLA, which is opening its conference season against Stanford, is coming off a tournament title at the Outrigger Hotels Invitational in Honolulu last weekend, beating Lewis, Springfield, and Hawai'i. The Bruins also have beaten defending NCAA champ Ohio State, and its loss was to UC Irvine in the final of the UCSB Invitational.
The UCLA Series: According to UCLA's records, the Bruins lead Stanford by 61-17. However, the Cardinal has had the upper hand in recent years, winning four of their past five meetings, including both last year. Last year in Westwood, Stanford held UCLA to a .041 hitting percentage, the third-lowest by an opponent in Stanford rally-scoring history. The season sweep of the Bruins also was a first in Stanford annals.
Saturday's Opponent, UC Santa Barbara: The No. 13 Gauchos return one starter from the team that reached the 2011 NCAA final before losing to Ohio State. Gone are hitters Cullen Irons and Jeff Menzel. However, middle blocker Dylan Davis remains. The Gauchos emerged as a No. 7 seed to the win the MPSF tournament and then upset USC for a second consecutive match to reach the final.
The UCSB Series: Stanford coach John Kosty was a standout at UCSB in the 1980s, creating one connection between the two schools. UCSB leads the all-time series 43-28, but the Cardinal lost last year in Santa Barbara in four sets.