THIS WEEK: Stanford (6-17, 3-7 MPSF) closes out the regular season on the road at No. 5 UCLA (20-6, 7-3 MPSF) on Thursday and No. 4 Pepperdine (14-6, 7-3 MPSF) on Saturday.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Thursday’s match will be televised on Pac-12 Bay Area and Pac-12 Los Angeles. Saturday’smatch will be streamed live on pepperdinewaves.com. Live stat and watch links for the matches can be found on the men’s volleyball schedule page on GoStanford.com.
ABOUT UCLA: UCLA enters the week tied for second in the MPSF at 7-3. The Bruins had a five-match winning streak snapped by rival USC on Saturday. UCLA is third nationally in kills (13.22) and hitting percentage (.352), and ranks fourth in aces (1.81). Setter Micah Ma’a controls the offense with an MPSF-best 10.73 assists per set. The junior also ranks second in the league in aces (0.47) and ninth in digs (1.67). Sophomore middle blocker Daenan Gyimah leads the nation with a .523 attack percentage and is third in the MPSF with 1.16 blocks per set. Senior opposite Christian Hessenauer paces the Bruins with 3.58 kills and 4.37 blocks per set.
ABOUT PEPPERDINE: Winners of four straight, Pepperdine sits in a tie with UCLA for second place in the MPSF at 7-3. The Waves rank in the top 10 nationally in aces (1.95), assists (11.81), kills (12.49) and blocks (2.43). Redshirt junior David Wieczorek leads the MPSF and is top-5 in the country in kills (4.03), aces (0.56) and points (5.05). Freshman setter Robert Mullahey is second in the league with 10.55 assists per set. Junior middle blocker Max Chamberlain is second in the MPSF with 1.24 blocks per set and ninth with a .350 attack percentage.
LAST TIME OUT: Stanford on back-to-back matches for the first time this season, knocking off No. 13 Grand Canyon (3-2) and No. 14 Concordia (3-1). Sophomore setter Paul Bischoff and junior outside hitter Jordan Ewert both returned to the lineup for the first time since January. Bischoff racked-up a career-high 62 assists in his return against the Lopes, while Ewert recorded a double-double versus the Eagles with 22 kills and a career-best 14 digs. Following Saturday’s match, the Cardinal recognized its three seniors – Evan Enriques, Kevin Rakestraw and Jake Stuebner – who competed in their final regular season match at Maples Pavilion.
MPSF SCENARIOS: Stanford can still finish fourth in the MPSF standings, which would mean hosting a first-round postseason match at Maples Pavilion on April 14. The Cardinal needs to defeat both UCLA and Pepperdine, and then a Grand Canyon win over USC and a Trojan win at Concordia. Stanford last hosted an MPSF quarterfinal match in 2016.
PAIR SWEEPS HONORS: Freshmen Jaylen Jasper and Kyler Presho collected MPSF Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors, respectively, for their efforts in wins over Grand Canyon (March 29) and Concordia (March 31). Additionally, Jasper was named the VolleyMob and Sports Imports/AVCA Players of the Week. Jasper averaged 5.11 kills, 0.89 aces and 6.22 points per set, while Presho led the team with 1.44 blocks per set.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Stanford ranks sixth as a team nationally with 12.57 kills per set and 18th with a .264 team hitting percentage. Individually, freshman Jaylen Jasper is sixth with 4.00 kills per set and 13th with 4.42 points per set, while senior Kevin Rakestraw is 13th with a .380 attack percentage.
WHO’S IN?: With injuries and a young roster, Stanford has struggled to find a consistent lineup. The Cardinal has utilized 11 different starting lineups this season. Freshman middle blocker Kyler Presho is the only Cardinal to start all 23 matches at the same position this year.
IN THE POLL: Stanford entered the 2018 campaign ranked No. 8 in the preseason AVCA Division I-II Men’s Coaches’ Poll. After starting 0-3, Stanford dropped out of the poll for the first time since March 2, 2015. This week, the Cardinal received votes after defeating then-No. 13 Grand Canyon and then-No. 14 Concordia. Five MPSF squads are ranked in the top 15.
COACHES POLL: Stanford, along with Pepperdine, was picked to finish third in the MPSF by the league’s coaches. BYU, which received four first-place votes, was picked to win the MPSF for the third straight season, while UCLA collected two first-place votes and came in second.
HEAD COACH JOHN KOSTY: Stanford head coach John Kosty is in his 12th season at the helm of the Cardinal program and his 28th overall on staff. He is 193-145 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 10 seasons under Kosty. Stanford has appeared in the MPSF Tournament in nine of Kosty’s 11 seasons (missing out in 2007 and 2015).