No. 7 Stanford Defeats No. 12 UC Santa Barbara

3/28/2009

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STANFORD, Calif. - Each match, the Stanford men's volleyball team reveals a little bit more about itself as it attempts to climb back up the standings in the rugged Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

On Saturday, the Cardinal further proved that it has the mental strength to bounce back, dropping the third set and rebounding to finish off a 30-27, 30-19, 23-30, 30-24 victory over No. 12 UC Santa Barbara at Maples Pavilion.

Evan Romero had 19 kills for No. 7 Stanford, which extended its conference winning streak to a season-high five as four Cardinal players - including Brad Lawson (12), Spencer McLachlin (12), and Garrett Werner (11) - reached double figures in kills.

"We're still in the process of learning," Stanford coach John Kosty said. "But we know that even if we get a little behind, we have the confidence to come back."

The Stanford defense continued to shine, holding the Gauchos (8-14, 4-13) to a .236 hitting percentage. Not only did libero Erik Shoji pick up 21 digs, but outside hitters Lawson and McLachlin combined for 14.

On one fourth-set play, Erik Shoji dived to the floor to make a pancake save that resulted in a McLachlin kill and a 28-23 lead.

With Stanford in control on the serve-receive, Kawika Shoji picked up 57 assists and set Stanford to a .372 hitting percentage. Shoji also was effective with dumps that were timed and placed just right to fool a defense on the lookout for them.

"We're at a point where even if the block is ineffective, our defense will pick it up and give us the opportunity to score points," Kosty said.

Romero hit .359 and has improved his season hitting percentage to .272, after coming into the season at a career .191. In his past nine matches, Romero has hit .310 and the Cardinal (16-8, 9-6) has won eight of those.

"Any time your opposite hits .300, you're scoring a lot of points," Kosty said. "That's what we're looking for."

Middle blockers Werner and Gus Ellis provided some big hits down the stretch, which helped Stanford regain the momentum and re-establish the middle attack. Werner finished off the match with a kill.

After an impressive weekend sweep that included a four-set upset over No. 2 Cal State Northridge on Friday, sixth-place Stanford improved to 5-0 at Maples Pavilion this season and extended its Maples win streak to nine.

The Cardinal will attempt to make it 10 when it plays host to Pacific (3-20, 0-14) on Tuesday before its final road trip of the season, to Long Beach State and UC San Diego.

Article courtesy of Stanford athletics.

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