Behind a season high 13 service aces, the No. 14 Stanford men's volleyball team defeated California Baptist University, 25-12, 24-26, 25-20, 25-19, Thursday at Maples Pavilion.
"We spent this week practicing on specific things and I thought we came out and did exactly what we practiced," said head coach John Kosty after the match. "That is something that is going to help us through the end of this season.
The win moves the Cardinal (10-13, 7-10 MPSF) into sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Stanford still has five matches remaining in the regular season, all against top-15 opponents.
Stanford concludes its homestand on Saturday, April 4 against eighth-ranked USC. First serve is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks. Admission is free.
For just the fourth time this season and for the first time in MPSF play, Stanford hit over .300 for the match coming in at .312. Freshman setter Kyle Dagostino controlled the offense, evenly distributing the ball to the Cardinal outside hitters, who all had at least 30 attacks.
"Spreading out the defense is something that all offenses try to do," explained Kosty. "The goal is to spread the middle blocker out and be able to attack efficiently from the pins."
Spread out the offense he did. Fifth-year senior outside hitter Daniel Tublin led the Cardinal with a season high 18 kills on 30 swings with just three errors to hit .500. He also tallied three aces and six digs. Redshirt sophomore opposite Gabriel Vega took 33 swings, connecting for 17 kills on a .364 attack percentage.
"Gabo (Vega) had a good, solid match that he has had over the last month of the season," added Kosty. "I thought Tubs (Tublin) came out and was a man on a mission, too. This was exactly the match that he wanted to come out and play, and he did it. That's what we need out of that position."
Junior outside hitter Madison Hayden was the third Cardinal player to register double-digit kills, finishing with 11. He paced the squad with a season-best five aces. Senior middle blocker Spencer Haly went 4-0-8 and collected four digs and two blocks.
What won't appear in the stat sheet is the play of fifth-year senior Grant Delgado. He came off the bench in all four sets to give the Cardinal a spark down the stretch.
"Grant Delgado has really stepped up for us this year," said Kosty. "He has been our clutch player in crunch time, coming in and serving. Getting an ace tonight, getting us point-runs late in games, making that dig or that pass, I think he is one of the unsung heroes of the match tonight. His steady play deep within sets allowing us to finish out strong."
Freshman libero Evan Enriques anchored the defense for the Cardinal. He finished with a team-high 10 digs, marking the fourth time this season he has tallied double-digits digs.
"I thought Evan came back strong this week in practice and he passed really efficiently tonight," said Kosty. "Defensively, he positioned himself well and was nice and still. He took care of the balls he could and that was part of the reason we were so steady through the match."
Brett Hanewich threw seven innings while allowing four runs, but Stanford's bats could not get going in a 4-2 loss Thursday in the series opener against Washington at Sunken Diamond. Stanford was shut down by three Huskies pitchers in the final seven innings after scoring once in each of the first two frames.
Stanford (11-15, 0-7 Pac-12) held a 2-1 lead after the second inning thanks to sac flies from Menlo School grad Mikey Diekroeger and Jack Klein. Washington quickly erased the deficit with three runs in the top of the fourth, all with two outs, on three hits.
The big blow came on a roller between third base and shortstop that third baseman Diekroeger had ricochet off his glove in a diving attempt and get into shallow left field. That allowed two runs to score, before Josh Cushing doubled home another four pitches later to conclude the evening's scoring.
Hanewich (1-3) had a final line of four runs on seven hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. He tied his season high in punch outs, including a 1-2-3 second inning on three straight swinging strike threes.
Washington's Noah Bremer (4-2) threw the first five innings to get the win. He was not overpowering, striking out just one, but he scattered six hits to exit with the lead.
Drew Jackson led Stanford with a 2-for-3 day.
Stanford's leading returning hitter and right fielder Zach Hoffpauir came back from a wrist injury to go 1-4 with a run scored. Hoffpauir had been out of the lineup since Feb. 14.
Washington has a chance to clinch its first series win at Sunken Diamond since 1997 on Friday in the second game of the three-game set at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
Stanford generated eight hits but it was not enough as the Cardinal fell to No. 20 Washington, 11-4, in the series opener Thursday in Seattle.
Despite the Pac-12 loss, there were plenty of individual highlights and a pair of career accomplishments for two Cardinal seniors. Hanna Winter registered two hits to tie Sarah Beeson for fifth all-time in hits among Stanford players with 259. Cassandra Roulund hit the 43rd double of her career to break into the top 10 and tie Lauren Lappin on the all-time list.
The Cardinal (16-20, 1-6 Pac-12) had a strong offensive showing with five Cardinal combining for eight hits. Winter, Roulund and Kayla Bonstrom registered two hits apiece, while Kaitlin Schaberg and Tylyn Wells contributed a hit each. Roulund, Schaberg and Jessica Plaza produced a RBI apiece for the Cardinal.
"We're swinging the bats with authority and stepping into the box with confidence," said head coach Rachel Hanson. "We hit the ball hard and it says a lot about the potential of our bats."
Kylie Sorenson (4-4) had a strong start at pitcher, limiting Washington (32-9, 4-5 Pac-12) to two runs through the first four innings. She finished the game permitting six runs on six hits and four walks in 5.0 innings. Tylyn Wells entered the game in the sixth inning as relief.
"Kylie kept us in the game to start, kept the ball low and worked her off-speed pitches really well," said Hanson, who added she was please how her two pitchers -- who are both typically position players but pitching due to injuries -- battled throughout the game in the circle.
Stanford was undone by big offensive innings by the Huskies in the fifth and sixth innings. Washington managed one hit in the fifth inning but it was a grand slam that narrowly snuck over the centerfield fence. The Huskies added five runs in the sixth inning, fueled by two home runs.
The Cardinal will look to get back in the win column Friday at 5 p.m. (PT) when it continues the series.