Clutch serving powers No. 5 Stanford to win vs. No. 9 Lewis

The Stanford serving game was clicking from the opening game and didn’t slow down in its victory between two top-10 nationally ranked teams.

No. 5 Stanford had 14 aces, including eight in the opening game, as it defeated No. 9 Lewis 25-16, 21-25, 25-19, 26-22 on Friday in Palo Alto, Calif.


Five Cardinal players had at least one ace in the team’s home opener. Both outside attackers Brian Cook and Daniel Tublin finished with a match-high four aces, while outside attacker Steven Irvin added three aces.

Stanford coach John Kosty said his team’s effective serving and ability to keep Lewis’ offense out-of-system was critical to the non-conference victory. The coach also he was impressed with the Flyers ability to make in-match adjustments following the Cardinal’s eight aces in the first game.

“Early in the season when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare for teams some times serves are different than what you think they are,” Kosty said. “We came out hot serving and they did a nice job counter-acting that with good adjustments.”

Along with his aces, Irvin finished with a match-high 20 kills — the third time in the Preseason All-American’s career that had at least 20 kills in a match.

“Steven has been great for us for three-and-half years,” Kosty said. “He is just a solid, consistent volleyball player. He understands the game. He truly understands that a kill is a kill. It doesn’t matter if you bounce it or chip it off the block. It goes in the scorebook as a point, and we move on.”

Stanford (2-0, 0-0 MPSF) in the non-conference victory out-hit Lewis .314 to .306, including having more than a .400 attack percentage in the first and third game.

Irvin was one of two players to have double-digit kills against Lewis (1-2, 0-0 MIVA). In addition, Tublin had 13 kills and a team-high .409 attack percentage.

This was the second consecutive match that Tublin started to open the season. The junior began last year coming off the beach for the Cardinal before earning a starting position late in the 2013 season.

“He’s done a really nice job working really hard over the last three years to get to the position that he is in, and he’s taken full advantage of it,” Kosty said.

Outside attacker Greg Petty led Lewis (1-2, 0-0 MIVA) with 15 kills, while middle attacker Eric Fitterer added 11 kills on a match-best .529 attack percentage.

Despite the loss, Lewis had its opportunities to force a decisive fifth game.

Stanford trailed by as many as seven points in the fourth game before rallying to tie the score at 22. In addition, the Cardinal closed out the game in a 6-1 run to secure the non-conference victory.

With this victory, Stanford extends its winning streak against the MIVA to nine matches. The Cardinal has not lost a non-conference match to a team from the MIVA since 2007.

Lewis opened its West Coast road trip against Stanford after upsetting then-No. 3 BYU last week. The Flyers will have a chance to finish their four-match non-conference stretch against MPSF opponents at .500 if it can defeat Pacific on Saturday in Stockton, Calif.

Stanford will continue its weekend non-conference homestead as it plays Grand Canyon on Saturday. Grand Canyon in its season-opener rallied from a two-game deficit to defeat Pacific in five games on Friday.

“It’s going to be a great match,” Kosty said. “We don’t have much information on them because it’s early in the season. So the great thing about preseason is we get to concentrate on us. We need to concentrate on the things we need to do to get better. It’s just going to be a great battle again like we had [against Lewis].”