Stanford continues annual series with both Long Beach, UC Irvine

The split of MPSF will not mean Stanford ending its series versus both Long Beach State and UC Irvine.

Stanford along with releasing its entire 2018 schedule earlier this week announced that it will play a home-and-home non-conference series against Long Beach State and UC Irvine.

All three schools until this upcoming season had played in the MPSF. Long Beach State and UC Irvine, though, as Big West schools joined the newly formed Big West men’s volleyball conference that will begin its inaugural season in 2018.

Stanford will play its two matches against Long State Beach State within a six-day span beginning with a home match on Jan. 20 before traveling for the series finale on Jan. 26.

The Cardinal one-year removed from narrowly missing the final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament ended last season at No. 9 in the both the national coaches poll and national media poll. Stanford returners several starters from last year’s team that reached the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals, including all-conference outside attacker Jordan Ewert who missed the majority of the season’s second half with an injury.

The team also adds opposite Jaylen Jasper and Kyler Pressho-Hartung after the two incoming freshmen spent the summer on the U.S. roster for the FIVB U19 World Championship.

Long Beach State for the second consecutive season advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals and won the MPSF championship in its final year in the conference. In addition, outside attacker TJ DeFalco, the 2017 AVCA National Player of the Year, returns for his junior season and spent the off-season playing with the U.S. Men’s National Team in the FIVB World League.

DeFalco is one of three All-American starters returning for the 49ers as they attempt to win the program’s first national championship since 1990.

Long Beach State leads the all-time series 50-29, including a out-hitting Stanford .418 to .122 in a sweep last season.

The two teams have also played every season dating back to 1983.

Along with the matches against Long Beach State, Stanford will open its home-and-home series against UC Irvine on the road Feb. 2. The Cardinal will have a home match versus the Anteaters on March 10 as part of a season-long seven-match home stand during the month.

UC Irvine finished last season at No. 5 in both the national coaches poll and national media poll and reached the MPSF Tournament semifinals.

Among the starters returning for UC Irvine includes Freshman All-American middle attacker Scott Stadick. Stadick ended the 2017 season fourth in the nation with a 1.19 blocks per game average and during the off-season played for the United States at the FIVB U21 World Championship.

The Anteaters have won four of the last six matches against the Cardinal dating back to 2015, including winning both matches in four games last season.