This past weekend, Stanford men’s volleyball (11-9, 6-7 MPSF) flew across the Pacific in hopes of at least one underdog win against No. 4 Hawaii (20-2, 10-2). The team was not wishing this without precedent, as the then-No. 6 Cardinal took out then-No. 4 Hawaii twice last year in a doubleheader at Maples Pavilion.
But this year, the No. 8 Stanford squad was unable to break the barrier and take control of the game, resulting in back-to-back losses to the Rainbow Warriors.
The first loss came on Friday night as a large crowd in Honolulu packed the pavilion, all there to watch two of the top-ranked teams in the nation go head-to-head.
The team started off strong, despite being a long way from home, and it seemed as if the Cardinal had a high probability of clinching the first set. Ultimately, though, the Rainbow Warriors pulled ahead just enough, leaving the Cardinal nipping at their heels at 25-22. The home team then rode this momentum into the second set, outdoing Stanford 25-17 and asserting its dominance on the court.
The third set resulted in a battle of the best as the game saw three lead changes and 12 tied scores, but once again the Cardinal were unable to deliver in the times of need, and the team lost the set 22-25, and the match 0-3.
Despite the final result, the team impressed with a .311 clip, something that it has been struggling to do this season. In fact, hitting percentages have been a major detractor from the Cardinal game, causing losses against lower-ranked teams such as USC.
Stars of the night included two Hawaii natives, fifth-year senior outside hitter Gabriel Vega, who delivered 11 kills with a .421 hitting percentage, and junior libero Evan Enriques, who led the match with 10 digs and set a career record with eight assists. Freshman outside hitter Eric Beatty contributed eight kills and six digs, while senior opposite Clay Jones and middle Kevin Rakestraw added seven and four kills, respectively.
Despite these outstanding outings for Stanford players, the team was unable to keep up with Rainbow Warrior sophomore opposite Stijn van Tilburg’s match-high 21 kills.
Saturday night held little hope for the Cardinal, who had been overpowered the previous day in a close but unfortunate matchup.
It seemed as if the Cardinal felt wholly unable to make a comeback, as the team went back to their old ways, hitting .149 and thus struggling to keep up with their foes.
This time around, the Stanford team had difficulty from the start, losing the first set 25-13, the biggest set difference of the weekend.
Despite great efforts by Jones (with 10 kills, two digs and a block), Vega (seven kills), Rakestraw (seven kills), Beatty (five kills and five digs) and freshman setter Paul Bischoff (28 assists, five digs and three blocks), Stanford was once again out-mastered by the home team. The Cardinal left the arena with their heads hanging for the second day in a row after being delivered a 25-13, 25-19, 25-20 blow.
Stanford will look to turn around this luck as they prepare to take on No. 9 Pepperdine next Saturday at Burnham Pavilion.
Contact Laura Sussman at laura111 ‘at’ stanford.edu.