This weekend No. 8 Stanford men’s volleyball (7-1, 0-0 MPSF) will hit the road for the first time this season to face off against No. 2 Hawaii (3-0, 0-0 Big West) in a double header in Honolulu. The undefeated Rainbow Warriors will be the Cardinal’s toughest competition yet, and they showcase a stacked and experienced international roster.
Stanford enters the game on a two-game winning streak, having defeated Purdue Fort Wayne twice last week. With a constant, experienced starting lineup, the Cardinal have proven to be a reliable team.
Stanford has already established a dependable attack with sophomore opposite Jaylen Jasper, who has 113 kills on the season, and senior outside hitter Jordan Ewert, who has 97.
On the defensive front, senior libero Kyle Dagostino is predictable and has an uncanny ability in passing settable balls, averaging 2.25 digs per set. On Monday, Dagostino was selected as MPSF Defensive Player of the Week. It marks the first career weekly honor for Dagostino and the fourth-straight week a Cardinal player has been recognized.
Stanford’s one big area for improvement, however, is blocking. Last week, the Cardinal could have won by an even more comfortable margin had they read and timed blocks more accurately and more consistently. As the statistics currently stand, sophomore middle blocker Kyler Presho is the only player with a presence at the net, and even he only averages 1.07 blocks per set. Against a high-powered offense like Hawaii, now is the time to cement Stanford’s block. Without strength at the net, the Cardinal back row will be spread too thin against a tall, powerful Rainbow Warrior team — whose median height is 6-foot-6.
The Hawaii team is renowned in volleyball and has made two trips to the NCAA Tournament in the last four years. Their home court advantage will certainly play a role in the weekend games as Warrior fans tend to show up spirited and in large numbers.
Players to watch on the Hawaiian side are setter Joe Worsley, the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Warrior Classic Championship Most Outstanding Player and Bay Area native, and All-Tournament Team members opposite Rado Parapunov and outsider hitter/opposite Stijn van Tilburg.
Parapunov and Stijn van Tilburg are two of four international players on the Rainbow Warriors — hailing from Sofia, Bulgaria and Amsterdam, Netherlands respectively. The other expatriates are outside hitter/opposite Filip Humler out of Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic and setter Jakob Thelle from Tonsberg, Norway. All four have represented their native countries on their respective national teams.
While this foreign talent may pose a challenge for the Cardinal in their first away game, the Stanford team is certainly a worthy opponent. If the Cardinal remain consist and play their style of volleyball, they just might cause an upset.
The first game will begin at 7 p.m. HT tonight, and the second game will be at 6 p.m. HT on Sunday. Both games will take place in Stan Sheriff Center.
Contact Cybele Zhang at cybelez ‘at’ stanford.edu.