Jan. 25, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio -
There will be opportunities for two things this weekend at the Ken & Dave Dunlap Invitational men's volleyball tournament - flashbacks and payback.
Stanford (4-1), which plays Penn State and Ohio State for the first time since beating both in the 2010 final four, will recall some fond national championship memories. In fact, current senior outside hitter Brad Lawson had perhaps the finest hitting performance in the history of the NCAA finals, in the title victory over Penn State.
But for the Nittany Lions and defending NCAA champion Buckeyes, the matches present a chance to gain a measure of revenge.
Ken and Dave Dunlap Invitational in Columbus, Ohio
Friday: No. 4 Stanford (4-1) vs. No. 8 Penn State (2-1), 2 p.m.
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Saturday: Stanford at No. 10 Ohio State (5-3), 4 p.m.
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Road Trip: Stanford enters the weekend two matches into a 10-match road trip that will cover 7,617 miles and spans 40 days between home matches. So far, Stanford is 1-1 on the road stretch, which encompasses five consecutive weekends. The Cardinal plays its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation home opener on Feb. 24 against Pepperdine.
Last Week: Stanford split its MPSF road weekend at No. 3 UCLA and No. 13 UC Santa Barbara. UCLA won 25-23, 25-22, 25-17, while holding Stanford to two blocks and a .179 hitting percentage. The Cardinal, however, rebounded behind a career-high 17 kills from sophomore Brian Cook, who hit .682 in the 25-22, 25-21, 19-25, 25-18 victory. In contrast to Friday, Stanford hit .421 and had 11.5 team blocks.
Stanford has four sophomores in the starting lineup - hitters Brian Cook
and Steven Irvin
, and middles Denny Falls
and Eric Mochalski
. Together, they have combined for 147 kills and a .387 hitting percentage. Mochalski, the school single-season record-holder in hitting percentage (.451), set the single-match school rally-scoring-era mark with an .833 performance (10-0-12) against Loyola on Jan. 14.
Team hitting: The Cardinal is hitting .386 as a team and its attack has been spread out. No player has had more than 17 kills and four have had 10 or more kills in a match, though Stanford has not gone to five sets yet this season.
Friday's Opponent, Penn State: The Nittany Lions (2-1) have reached the NCAA final four the past 13 years, dominating the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association so much that they have compiled a 183-5 conference record in coach Mark Pavlik's 17 seasons. Penn State is finishing off a five-match road stretch to begin the season, including a season-opening sweep of Ohio State and a four-set loss at No. 9 Lewis.
The Penn State Series: The zenith of the Stanford program, at least since its previous title in 1997, came in the form of a 30-25, 30-20, 30-18 victory over the Nittany Lions in the 2010 NCAA final at Maples Pavilion. Brad Lawson fired in 24 kills in 28 attempts and with only one errors, for an .824 hitting percentage, a Stanford record for an outside hitter that still stands. The teams have not met since. Overall, the all-time series is tied at 5-5.
Saturday's Opponent, Ohio State: The Buckeyes (5-3) have won three consecutive matches after a sweep at the hands of visiting Penn State. Ohio State opened its season at the UCSB Invitational where its first match was a rematch of the 2011 championship, against UC Santa Barbara. Ohio State captured both, but went 1-2 at the tournament. Senior opposite Shane Sangrey is the reigning Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association player of the week and was an NCAA All-Tournament selection.
The Ohio State Series: Stanford beat Ohio State 30-25, 30-26, 30-17, in the 2010 NCAA semifinal at Maples Pavilion, setting the scene for its title-winning victory over Penn State two days later. Stanford is 9-0 all-time against the Buckeyes, and beat them at St. John Arena in a 2009 sweep.