THIS WEEK: No. 8 Stanford (6-4, 3-2 MPSF) returns to Maples Pavilion this week to play host to No. 4 UCLA on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. and No. 12 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Live stats for both matches can be found on the men’s volleyball schedule page on GoStanford.com. Thursday’s match will be televised live on Pac-12 Bay Area and Pac-12 Los Angeles, while Saturday’s match will be streamed for free on pac-12.com. All links can be found on GoStanford.com.
LAST TIME OUT: Stanford was swept at then-No. 14 CSUN and then-No. 3 Long Beach State last weekend, recording its first losses in MPSF play. The Cardinal hit just .118 in the two matches, while the Matadors and 49ers posted a .417 combined clip. Redshirt senior Gabriel Vega led Stanford with 3.50 kills per set on .256 hitting. Junior libero Evan Enriques collected 2.67 digs per set.
SCOUTING THE BRUINS: UCLA dropped both matches at then-No. 4 BYU last weekend, snapping a seven-match winning streak. The Bruins are third in the MPSF at 6-2, pacing the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.223) and aces (1.67), while ranking third in hitting percentage (.340), blocks (2.44) and digs (8.73). Freshman middle blocker Daenan Gyimah leads the league with a .493 attack percentage and is 11th with 0.94 blocks per set. Senior middle blocker Mitch Stahl is thid in the MPSF with 1.12 blocks per set and fourth with 0.56 aces per set. The Bruins run a 6-2 offense with sophomore Micah Ma’a (5.80 aps) and senior Hagen Smith (5.22 aps) sharing time at setter.
SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS: After opening the season 6-1, UC Santa Barbara has dropped its past four matches, winning just one set overall. The Gauchos are hitting .309 as a team, while registering 12.55 kills and 2.11 blocks per set. Redshirt senior Jacob Delson is third in the MPSF with 4.38 kills, fourth in points at 5.01 and ninth in aces (0.38). Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Connor Drake is second in the league with 1.14 blocks per set, while libero Parker Boehle anchors the defense with 1.98 digs per set.
IN THE POLL: Stanford dropped one spot to No. 8 in this week’s AVCA Division I-II Men’s Coaches Poll after falling in straight sets at CSUN and Long Beach State last week. The Cardinal is one of nine MPSF squads to appear in the top 15.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Stanford is third in the MPSF with 1.59 service aces per set, ranking in the top 10 nationally. The Cardinal also ranks fourth in the league in blocks per set at 2.25. Individually, Kevin Rakestraw’s .466 hitting percentage and 1.13 blocks per set are both sixth in the nation, while sophomore Jordan Ewert’s 4.18 points per set and 3.53 kills per set are 17th and 19th nationally, respectively.
FILLING THE VOID: Stanford graduated 55 percent of its offensive output from last season, leaving holes that need to be filled. Jordan Ewert is leading the Cardinal this season with 106 total kills (3.53 kps), while Kevin Rakestraw is second on the team with 74 kills (2.31 kps) as a middle. Redshirt senior Gabriel Vega has tallied 70 kills (2.50 kps) as an outside hitter.
TOP-RANKED CLASS: Freshmen Eric Beatty (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Paul Bischoff (Wheaton, Ill.) were named AVCA First Team High School All-Americans. Stanford was one of three teams nationally with two selections to the first team. Jacob Thoenen (St. Charles, Mo.) and Eli Wopat (Santa Barbara, Calif.) earned second team honors, while Stephen Moye (El Segundo, Calif.) and Mason Tufuga (Costa Mesa, Calif.) round out the Cardinal’s freshman class, which was rated No. 1 in the nation by VolleyballMag.com.
OFF THE BLOCK PRESEASON RECOGNITION: Evan Enriques was the first winner of the Erik Shoji Award, given to the nation’s top libero by Off The Block after the 2016 season. The junior was named a first team preseason All-American by the site, which collected votes from head coaches around the nation. Jordan Ewert, Kevin Rakestraw, Gabriel Vega and Paul Bischoff all received votes.
HEAD COACH JOHN KOSTY: Stanford head coach John Kosty is in his 11th season at the helm of the Cardinal program and his 27th overall on staff. He is 180-119 in his career and has guided Stanford to the 2010 NCAA national championship and the 2014 NCAA finals. The Cardinal has produced a first team AVCA All-America selection in eight of the past nine seasons under Kosty.
News courtesy of Stanford Athletics.