Jan. 27, 2011
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Complete Release in PDF Format
The No. 2 Stanford men's volleyball is in the midst of its toughest road stretch of the season, playing seven matches in as many cities over 16 days while covering 9,186 miles. Stanford (4-1 overall, 3-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) plays at the Matadome against No. 13 Cal State Northridge (2-5, 1-3) on Friday at 7 p.m. for the first time since the teams met in the 2010 MPSF Tournament final. Stanford next plays at No. 5 Long Beach State (4-3, 3-1), the team that is knotted with the Cardinal for second place in the MPSF, on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Walker Pyramid. Stanford is coming off a split at Hawai'i. Now comes the first of four Southern California regular-season trips before returning home briefly and then heading to the Midwest.
Follow the Action
Live stats for both matches will be available on the Gametracker links found at gostanford.com.
There will be an audio broadcast for the Long Beach State match. Go to gostanford.com to find the "Listen" link.
Stanford finds itself in a second-place tie with Long Beach State, its Saturday opponent, with 3-1 records. USC leads at 5-0 with a match at UCLA on Friday, followed by four teams with one loss. Eleven of the MPSF's 12 teams are ranked among the nation's AVCA Top 15 and the only one that isn't, Pacific, received votes. MPSF teams occupy the first eight spots in the rankings. In all, Stanford plays 21 of its 27 regular-season matches against teams currently ranked in the Top 15. Among the other matches, one is against Cal Baptist, the NAIA's top-ranked team.
Stanford and its seven Hawaiian-born players split at Hawai'i last weekend in two extremely difficult matches for the Cardinal. After suffering through a Friday sweep -- Stanford's first three-set loss in 23 matches -- that ended a nine-match winning streak, the Cardinal settled into a 2 hour, 54-minute marathon on Sunday. Stanford failed to convert five match points in the fourth set before fighting off two match points in the fifth. Freshman Eric Mochalski smacked the final two points in a 25-21, 17-25, 25-19, 34-36, 17-15 victory. Stanford senior captain Spencer McLachlin, who grew up two miles away from UH's Stan Sheriff Center, had a career-high 29 kills.
For the second consecutive weekend, Stanford trailed at a fifth-set switch (when a team reaches eight points) and faced multiple match points before rallying to win. On Jan. 14, Stanford trailed BYU 14-12 during a run of four consecutive Brad Lawson
kills before winning 17-15 on a block by Spencer McLachlin
and Eric Mochalski
after Stanford faced three match points. The freshman Mochalski also had the go-ahead and winning kills in a 17-15 fifth-set victory at Hawai'i on Sunday after fighting off two match points, the last at 15-14.
Friday's Opponent: Cal State Northridge
The Matadors have struggled since reaching the NCAA semifinals last season, beginning this season at 2-5, including 1-3 in the MPSF. With a No. 13 ranking, Northridge has not been ranked as low since being in the same spot on March 5, 2002. Northridge has won only two sets during its five losses, but will be playing at home for only the second time this season. The Mustangs return two starters from last year's 23-10 season: junior setter Matt Stork and senior 6-foot-8 opposite Tanner Nua. A freshman, Brandon Lebrock, leads the team in kills with a 2.54 kills per set. However, the Matadors are worst in the MPSF in defensive hitting percentage, allowing teams to attack at a .377 clip. Offensively, CSUN is second-worst at .247.
The Cal State Northridge Series
Stanford leads the all-time series 30-23, but until its 30-24, 30-28, 30-17 victory over Northridge in the 2010 MPSF Tournament final at Maples Pavilion, the Matadors mostly dominated. Northridge had won seven of eight meetings over three years and was the only conference team Stanford hadn't beaten during last year's MPSF regular season. Still, Northridge is 16-4 against Stanford since 2004.
Saturday's Opponent: Long Beach State
The 49ers have experienced a resurgence after a 12-17 season of a year ago, breaking out to a 3-1 MPSF start with victories over Pepperdine, UC Santa Barbara and, most recently, UCLA. Against the Bruins, Long Beach lost the first two sets before rallying for a 19-25, 22-25, 25-14, 25-22, 15-13 victory, moving up three spots to No. 5 in the AVCA rankings. Junior opposite Jim Baughman is leading the 49ers in hitting, averaging 3.96 kills per set and hitting at a .358 clip. Antwain Aguillard is second in the conference with 1.69 blocks per set.
The Long Beach State Series
The 49ers hold a 40-25 all-time series lead, but Stanford has won the past five meetings, winning twice last season by a combined six sets to one.
Two current Stanford players have earned first-team All-America honors:
Brad Lawson, jr., OH: Leads the Cardinal in kills per set (4.05) and points per set (4.43) ... was MPSF Player of the Week on Jan. 17 after combining for 39 kills, a .391 hitting percentage, nine digs, four assists, four blocks, and three aces in a two-match sweep of BYU ... 2010 MPSF Player of the Year ... 2010 AVCA and Volleyball Magazine first-team All-American ... had perhaps the most dominant performance by an outside hitter in NCAA finals history with 24 kills in 28 attacks and one error (.821) in a sweep of Penn State on May 8 at Stanford's Maples Pavilion ... 2010 NCAA Tournament co-Most Outstanding Player with teammate Kawika Shoji ... has started every match since he's been at Stanford (67).
Erik Shoji, jr., L: Leads the team in digs with 3.07 per set ... earned second consecutive AVCA first-team All-America honor in 2010 ... received Block "S" Award as Stanford's Outstanding Male Sophomore Athlete ... graced the cover of Volleyball Monthly with brother Kawika last season ... son of University of Hawai'i women's coach Dave Shoji ... two-year digs per game average of 3.67 is the highest career total in Stanford history by more than 1.0 ... entered season second on the school career list in total digs (812) ... set the unofficial national record for digs in a season, with 447, in 2009 ... named AVCA's Newcomer of the Year in 2009 ... in conference matches, leads the MPSF in digs with 3.66 per set.
Stanford freshmen Eric Mochalski and Brian Cook have become fixtures in the Cardinal starting lineup, starting all four matches in MPSF play. The two were teammates on the United States junior national team that captured the NORCECA title last summer and earned a berth in the 2011 World Championships.
Eric Mochalski leads the team in blocks, with 20 (1.05 per set), contributed to the match point block that beat BYU in a five setter, and finished off a fifth-set comeback against Hawai'i with two consecutive kills. His career-high is eight kills, in his first start against BYU. Mochalski also leads Stanford in service aces (6).
Brian Cook is third on the team in kills per set with 2.71, and is fourth in blocks (0.71) and digs (1.24). A Santa Cruz native and Soquel High graduate, Cook's sister Karissa is a setter on the Stanford women's team. He has a career-high of 14 kills in a five-set victory over Hawai'i on Jan. 23.
Steven Irvin started the opener against UC Santa Cruz and combines with Mochalski and Cook to give the class of 2014 nine combined starts this season. The outside hitter had five kills and five digs in the match, both career highs.
Middle blocker Denny Falls has appeared in one match so far, the opener against UC Santa Cruz, and was in on two blocks, though he did not record a kill.
Outside hitter Daniel Tublin and liberos Grant Delgado and Scott Sakaida have not played and may be redshirted.