March 5, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. -
The Stanford men’s volleyball team completes a stretch of four matches in six days when it plays host to Hawai’i at Burnham Pavilion on Tuesday and Maples Pavilion on Wednesday – the latter a switch in venue. First serve for each is at 7 p.m.
After holding the No. 1 ranking, Stanford has split its past four matches to drop into a tie for second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Hawai’i, however, is in the midst of a six-match losing streak, though all have come against three of the toughest teams in the conference.
Tuesday, 7 p.m.: No. 14 Hawai’i (6-11, 3-9) at No. 3 Stanford (13-4, 10-3), at Burnham Pavilion
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Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Hawai’i at Stanford, at Maples Pavilion
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Venue Change: Both matches originally were scheduled to be played at Burnham Pavilion, but a late change has moved the Wednesday match into larger Maples Pavilion. The Tuesday match will be the only regular-season match played at Burnham this season, though the Cardinal played Thompson Rivers of Canada there in an exhibition on Jan. 7.
Spring Break: After Wednesday’s match, Stanford will be off for 22 days before resuming its season with its final regular-season road matches of the season – at Pepperdine and USC on March 30-31. The team breaks for Dead Week, finals week, and spring break. After the SouCal trip, Stanford plays its final five matches at home.
Stanford split against UC San Diego and UC Irvine in a pair at Maples Pavilion. On Friday, the Cardinal beat UCSD 25-21, 25-15, 22-25, 25-19 behind Brad Lawson’s 18 kills. On Saturday, Stanford lost to then-No. 2 UCI, 25-21, 17-25, 25-17, 25-15. Lawson had 21 kills and hit .421, though the rest of the team hit .089. UCI broke a six-match losing streak to Stanford.
The MPSF Race: Stanford is in a second-place tie in the MPSF with UC Irvine at 10-3, but has fallen 1 ½ games behind leader UCLA (11-1). However, Stanford holds tiebreaker edges over UCI and fourth-place BYU (9-3) for MPSF tournament seeding purposes. Four schools, including USC (9-4), are within one game of each other in the standings.
What It Means: Not only are teams vying for top seeds in the eight-team MPSF tournament (April 21-28), which determines the conference’s lone automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, but they are attempting to get an edge on other at-large contenders should it fail to win the MPSF tournament. Of the NCAA’s 42 men’s volleyball titles, current MPSF teams hold 36 of those.
Stanford in Statistics: Senior setter Evan Barry leads the nation in assists per set at 12.00. Brad Lawson is third in kills per set (4.06), fifth in hitting percentage (.362), and seventh in aces per set (0.44). Senior libero Erik Shoji is fifth in digs per set at 2.50, and Brian Cook is 11th in hitting percentage (.326). Lawson is seventh in aces per set (0.44). As a team, The Cardinal leads the nation in assists per set (13.20) and kills per set (13.83). Stanford is fourth in hitting percentage, with .352.
Stanford’s Hawaiian Roots: Stanford has a history of players from the Hawaiian Islands. This year’s team has four – starters Brad Lawson and Erik Shoji, and reserves Chandler Kaaa and Scott Sakaida – plus assistant coach Daniel Rasay and volunteer assistant Max Halvorson. Lawson and Shoji are among a tradition of Stanford All-Americans from Hawai’i, including Kawika Shoji, Mike Lambert, and Spencer McLachlin. Stanford’s 2010 NCAA championship team had seven Hawaiian players and its 1997 title team had two, Lambert and setter Stewart Chong.
The Opponent, Hawai’i: The Warriors (6-11, 3-9) are tied for 10th in the 12-team MPSF and have lost their past six, the middle four of those in straight sets. However, those matches all were against current top-four teams – No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 UC Irvine, and No. 4 USC. Hawai’i most recently took USC to five sets, on Sunday.
The Hawai’i Series: Stanford has won eight of its past nine matches against the Warriors, including a 25-21, 17-25, 25-19, 34-36, 17-15 thriller in Honolulu in their most recent meeting, Jan. 23, 2011. Stanford fought off two match points to win. Hawai’i leads the all-time series, 35-32, but Stanford has won their past five meetings at home.