Stanford men's volleyball coach John Kosty knows all about being a team of destiny. He went through it four years when the Cardinal won its last NCAA title at home in Maples Pavilion.
As in 2010, when Stanford overwhelmingly voted, before the year even began, to bid to host the national championships, so too did Loyola-Chicago do it this season.
Just as Stanford succeeded in its season-long pursuit of the title, so too did the Ramblers succeed, beating the Cardinal, 25-17, 19-25, 25-19, 25-15, Saturday to earn its first men's volleyball national title and the second NCAA overall for the school.
Loyola-Chicago (29-1) was able to accomplish the feat in front of a roaring home crowd that sold out Gentile Arena and raised the roof.
Seniors Brian Cook, Steven Irvin, Eric Mochalski, Scott Sakaida and Danny Falls may not have won their final game in a Stanford uniform, but they get to congratulate themselves on getting to the title match in a season that did not look pretty at one point.
After 16 matches, Stanford was 9-7 overall and just 6-7 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and facing three road matches.
The Cardinal (24-9) was ranked first in the nation after winning its first three matches. Stanford went into a freefall afterward, falling to 10th in the country, more like a graveyard when it comes to NCAA title hopes.
Stanford regrouped, refocused and won 13 consecutive matches as it made its steady climb back up the rankings and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament after losing to BYU in the MPSF championship match.
Another shot at the Cougars also meant a shot at the national title and Stanford survived a gritty five-set battle against its conference rival to claim a berth against Loyola-Chicago on its home court.
Stanford dropped the first set after holding an early lead and then roared back to even things at 1-1 before the Ramblers, this year's team of destiny, took control in the final two sets.
With score tied at 9 in the second set, Cook and Spencer Haly combined on a block to put the Cardinal ahead. Sophomore setter James Shaw served consecutive aces and Stanford eventually built a 19-11 cushion.
The Cardinal fell behind early in the third set and fought to stay in the match. Cook recorded a kill to bring Stanford within 11-10, but the Ramblers went on a run and maintained the edge the rest of the way.
The fourth set belonged to Loyola-Chicago, and the national title trophy went to the Ramblers in front of their own.
Cook led Stanford with 15 kills and Irvin added 10. Seniors produced 34 of the team's 47 kills.
Cook and Shaw were selected to the All-Tournament team. Stanford is now 2-3 in NCAA title matches.
Kosty will have a strong nucleus returning in Shaw, an All-American choice, and fellow sophomore Conrad Kaminski, who recorded a .417 hitting percentage against the Ramblers.
Libero Grant Delgado and fellow junior Spencer Haly each saw considerable action this year and will return to, perhaps, assume leadership roles.
Sophomore Madison Hayden played in three sets of the championship match and junior Daniel Tublin appeared in two.
Junior Sean Kemper and freshmen Cole Fiers also saw action.
In a battle of top five teams, No. 4 Stanford won three straight races against No. 2 Cal for a convincing team performance in the Big Row on Saturday at Redwood Shores.
"We knew to come away with victories over Cal it was going to take our best effort," Cardinal coach Yasmin Farooq said. "We couldn't have asked for a better opponent for our final race of the regular season. I am really proud of our girls for stepping up, executing the race plans and coming away with the wins."
The last time Stanford won the varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four races in the Big Row was 2009 when the Cardinal went on to claim its first NCAA team championship.
The varsity eight won the Lambert Cup for the first time since 2009, topping Cal by three seconds. Stanford's time of 6:26.5 was nearly six seconds faster than the time they put up last weekend against No. 9 USC.
"Going into the race we had a great warmup and were collectively fired up," said senior Kristy Wentzel. "We had the mindset to do whatever it took to win."
Stanford got off to a good start, but knew that Cal was one of the best teams in the country and wouldn't go quietly. They would have to keep pulling hard to earn their fourth win of the spring.
"We kept holding them off from walking on us," said Wentzel. "It wasn't until 200 meters to go that I let myself think that we were going to win the race. It was a surreal moment and was awesome to cross that finish line together."
Track and field
Stanford throwers won two events at the Longhorn Invitational on Saturday and freshman Dylan Duvio earned a personal record in the pole vault as Cardinal athletes split performances between two Texas meets.
Megan Glasmann won the women's javelin and Lucas Rowley won the men's hammer throw in Austin, as four Cardinal earned or improved their spots on Stanford's all-time Top 10 lists.
Glassman improved her collegiate best to 162-2 to win by nearly 24 feet. Glasmann's best throw, on her second attempt, puts her at No. 4 in Stanford history and is No. 2 all-time among freshmen.
Rowley earned a personal best to win the hammer, surpassing Sam Houston's Brek Christensen on his final throw to win the competition. Christensen hit 197-6 on his second throw, only for Rowley to reach 199-10 on his sixth throw.
Duvio improved his best to No. 4 all-time and No. 2 among freshmen at Stanford with a clearance of 17-6 ½, an inch improvement upon his 17-5 ½ from the indoor season. Duvio opened 16-6 ¾ and was perfect through the first three heights before failing in three attempts at 18-0 ½.
Rebecca Hammar, Stanford's most versatile thrower, set a personal best in what might be considered her third-best event, the shot put. Her best put of 49-3 ¾ less than nine inches from first place and puts her at No. 8 on the Stanford all-time list.
Hammar already is among the Stanford top 10 in the discus and hammer and placed fifth and eighth in those events Saturday, respectively.
Freshman Valarie Allman continued her consistent performances in the discus. Allman was second at 178-3, only six inches from first. She also set a personal record of 163-8 in the hammer, while placing 10th.
In Lubbock, Texas, Stanford sophomore Steven Solomon was the top collegian and second overall in the 400 meters at the Red Raider Open at Texas Tech. Solomon ran 45.65 to finish behind only Omar Johnson of Jamaica, who won in 45.42.
No. 11 Stanford faced a tough challenge on Saturday as they faced off against No. 2 Cal in the 81st Big Row.
"This regatta has always been about family," Stanford coach Craig Amerkhanian said. "We gather to honor the memory, inspiration and power of former Cal coxswain Jill Costello. We also raced for one of our own today. Our fight was for Diane Johnson, who is the mother of senior Cole Johnson and is going through a battle with cancer."
The Stanford men wore special tank tops for the occasion with the initials DEJ written on the left chest and the Stanford block "S" printed on the front.
Stanford won the varsity eight race last year and held the Schwabacher Cup for the past year, but Cal regained the trophy on Saturday with a victory. The Cardinal finished with a time of 5:53.0, just under 10 seconds behind the Golden Bears.
"We felt like going into this race we were racing with the strongest lineup we have," said sophomore coxswain Nathalie Weiss. "We had a really good first 500 meters and a good race for our boat, but Cal is a really strong team this year."
Stanford lost by a similar margin in the frosh eight. Four freshmen who have competed in the varsity eight this year were all in the frosh boat, but could not overtake Cal's group. Stanford notched a time of 6:03.7 to finish nine seconds back.
Cal had its biggest win of the day in the second varsity eight race. The Cardinal had a time of6:26.1, while the Golden Bears finished in 5:55.4.
The Big Row marked the final home race for three Stanford seniors as Austin Hack, Johnson and Will Robins all raced for the final time at Redwood Shores.
Stanford will have two weeks off before they head to Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, Calif. for the Pac-12 Rowing Championships on Sunday, May 18.
No. 2 Stanford claimed two open water victories over the Cal openweight 3V8 and 4V8 on Saturday in the 81st Big Row at Redwood Shores.
The first time the Stanford lightweight rowing team faced Cal didn't go so well as the Golden Bears won two races at the Pac-12 Challenge. This time around the results were reversed as Stanford cruised to a pair of easy wins.
With a nearly 17-second win over the Golden Bears on Saturday, the Cardinal stretched its winning streak to four races. Stanford posted a time of 6:54.7 in its final home race of the year.
"We have had some tough races and have switched our focus as to when we want to make moves in our races and that showed in today's race compared to our first race against Cal," said junior coxswain Jordan Duval-Smith. "We had one of our best start sequences of the season and had a race that makes us feel good as we get closer to nationals."
The second varsity eight earned its first win since the San Diego Crew Classic one month ago. Going up against Cal's 4V8, the Cardinal jumped out of the gates and kept gaining a bigger and bigger lead as the race went on. Stanford would finish with a time of 7:15.8, 16 seconds ahead of the Golden Bears.
"It was a very exciting race for our boat," said senior Molly Hayes. "We had a really hard week of practice and came out here and did everything we wanted to do and more."
Hayes, the lone senior on Stanford's squad, was a member of the victorious 2V8. The win and flowers from the coaching staff were a nice way to end her final home race.
"I am a pretty nostalgic person," said Hayes. "This is the course I know the best and I will be sad to leave. If I have to go out, I am happy that this was the race of all races."
An early deficit and a tough offensive day was too much for visiting Stanford to overcome Saturday as it fell to No. 2 UCLA, 9-0, in five innings.
After putting up 12 runs on 12 hits in Friday night's contest, the Cardinal (29-22, 4-16 Pac-12) had difficulty getting going at the plate, mustering three hits and never advancing a runner past first base.
Leah White, Kylie Sorenson and Tylyn Wells registered Stanford's three hits.
Sorenson led off the fourth inning with a single but she was the final Cardinal to reach base.
The series concludes with a noon start Sunday, to be televised on ESPN.