The fourth-ranked Stanford men's volleyball team took care of business Friday night, beating visiting UC Santa Barbara, 25-19, 25-20, 25-8, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contest at Burnham Pavilion.
Madison Hayden recorded 14 kills and had a hitting percentage of .667 for the Cardinal (11-2, 9-2 MPSF), which beat the 10th-ranked Gauchos for the first time in nearly two years. Gabriel Vega added 12 kills and a hitting percentage of .625.
Stanford, winners of four straight, hosts UCLA in a battle for first place at 11 a.m. Sunday in Maples Pavilion. The winner gets to share the MPSF penthouse with Long Beach State (10-2 in conference play), while the loser gets the boot into fourth, also behind BYU (8-2).
The Cardinal remained unbeaten in the first set on the season, taking the opener, 25-19, to make it 13 straight.
Led by the trio of Vega, Hayden and freshman Jordan Ewert, Stanford built a 17-12 lead before UCSB called its first timeout.
While two aces by UCSB's Jonah Seif helped cut the deficit to 18-17, the Cardinal closed the set on a 7-2 run. Both teams hit well and kept errors to a minimum, but the hosts held a decided advantage in sideout percentage (75 percent to 58 percent). Vega and Hayden led all players with four kills apiece, while Ewert recorded three .
Stanford rolled its momentum into the second frame, taking a 5-0 lead and going ahead by as many as eight en route to a 25-20 victory. Seif's third ace of the match brought the Gauchos within three at 21-18, but the attack combination of Hayden and Vega overwhelmed UCSB's front line.
Hayden had another strong set, tallying six kills on eight attempts, with Vega adding five kills on seven attempts. The Cardinal's block, keyed by Conrad Kaminski and James Shaw, improved in the second set, holding UCSB to a .185 hitting percentage (13-8-27). Sideout percentage was again in favor of Stanford, which also remained efficient on offense (13-3-21).
The Cardinal's defense owned the final set, as the team rolled past the Gauchos, 25-8, with just eight kills. The 17-point winning margin tied Stanford's biggest of the season (25-8 at USC on Jan. 31), and was Santa Barbara's worst loss of the campaign.
Vega and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Kevin Rakestraw limited UCSB's attack, helping hold the visitors to a minus-.083 hitting percentage, while Hayden and Vega combined for seven of their squad's eight kills.
Stanford hit .526 to UCSB's .147 for the match, and held the advantage in nearly every other statistical category.
Shaw topped the team with 25 assists, adding four blocks, two aces and three digs. Evan Enriques had a match-high 12 digs, and Kaminski had two of the Cardinal's eight aces.