Men’s volleyball to get back on track against Pepperdine

Feb. 26, 2015, 11:46 p.m.

The Stanford men’s volleyball team (5-10, 3-7 MPSF) will continue its season-long seven game homestand this weekend. The Card’s recent trend of following a strong MPSF opponent with a weaker non-league foe will continue, as fifth-ranked Pepperdine and Oakland-based Holy Names University come to Maples.

Madison Hayden (right)
Junior outside Madison Hayden (right) had 23 kills on .445 hitting against the Anteaters. (HECTOR GARCIA-MOLENA/

Friday’s match against Pepperdine is another big test for Stanford. The team nearly aced its last test at home to UC Irvine, losing 3-2 to the fourth-ranked Anteaters. Junior outside Madison Hayden continued his run of inspired form. He had 23 kills on .445 hitting and dug 12 balls against the Anteaters – his best game in a Stanford uniform. This followed his previous best against UC San Diego six days prior, where he posted 21 kills on .319.

Pepperdine took out Stanford 3-1 in Malibu earlier this month. Junior setter James Shaw, deputizing as an outside hitter in that match, hit .394 with 18 kills that night, but he will not be available Friday due to injury.

To win Friday, the Cardinal will need to neutralize a potent Waves hitting corps. MPSF hitting leader Parker Kalmbach is pouring in 3.86 kills per set from the outside, while fellow outside Josh Taylor chips in 3.53 more kills per set, giving Pepperdine two hitters in the conference’s top 10.

However, the Waves have gotten contributions from all over en route to a 12-2 record. Setter Matt West dishes 10.74 assists per set. Brennan Anderson captains the defense, with 2.27 digs per set from the libero position. All of the aforementioned are seniors, giving Pepperdine a bevy of experienced options on the court.

Stanford will have to be at the top of its game to emerge from Friday night with a win. The Card have shown they can unlock the Pepperdine defense, posting an impressive 25-21 set victory to open their Feb. 6 matchup. Junior middle Conrad Kaminski will be needed to shut down the Pepperdine hitters. Stanford’s passing must be on point as well, in order to unlock Kaminski as an attacking option from the middle. If the Cardinal can run a balanced offense, they will keep the Waves guessing and open up lanes for all the hitters in red.

Holy Names University, Saturday’s opponent, comes from the other end of the NCAA spectrum. As a Division I independent, Holy Names University frequently plays both Divison I and Division III opponents, mostly from California, but they haven’t had much luck this season, going 1-4 overall so far. The Hawks’ attack is led by hitters Blake Jansen and Kyle Cazares, while their defensive leader is libero Xavier Tenorio. Stanford should have the quality to easily dispatch their cross-bay opponents, but this could easily be a trap game should the Cardinal prevail over Pepperdine the previous night.

This weekend provides Stanford with another opportunity to get its season on track. The odds favor the Cardinal to go 1-1, but with an inspired performance from an in-form Hayden and a great passing display, they may just add two wins to their resume. The Cardinal need to get back to their winning ways soon, and now is as good a time as any to begin.

Contact Kevin Bishop at kbishop ‘at’

Kevin Bishop is a volleyball beat writer for The Daily. He runs cross country and track for the Stanford varsity team, and would like to pursue an athletic career as long as possible before turning to the working world. To that end, Kevin is pursuing a double major in computer science and economics, with an eye towards a career in coding or computational financial analysis. The Bay Area native is a lifelong Warriors and 49ers fan, and now fervently supports north London side Spurs in the EPL.

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