Back on top: Women’s volleyball beats Washington schools 3-1 apiece

No. 5 women’s volleyball (20-3, 13-1 Pac-12) celebrated another triumphant weekend at home, with back-to-back 3-1 wins against No. 8 Washington State (19-6, 9-5 Pac-12) on Friday evening and University of Washington (14-11, 5-9 Pac-12) on Sunday afternoon. These matches marked Stanford’s last against the Washington schools as conference opponents — the Cardinal will compete in the ACC conference next season. 

Stanford vs. Washington State

Set one of the Friday game was tight, as both teams played tactically and maintained ties throughout the set. Despite multiple kills by Stanford, Washington State clinched the first set 25-21, thanks to a kill from the Cougars’ outside hitter Iman Isanovic.

Stanford responded in set two with a 25-21 win. “When we found our rhythm, we hit at a good number after the first set and did a much much better job defensively,” said head coach Kevin Hambly. “They were rolling in the first two sets, but we slowly whittled them down, both with service pressure and defense.”

Kills by multiple Stanford players balanced out the Washington State points for a 16-16 tie, but the Cardinal quickly began pulling ahead following their 3-point run. The set ended with another 3-point run by junior middle blocker Sami Francis and sophomore outside hitter Elia Rubin.

Francis led Stanford with a .476 attack percentage, a season-high of 12 kills and five blocks. Junior setter Kami Miner — a force on both sides of the ball — totaled 56 assists and 10 digs, and senior libero Elena Oglivie executed a match-high of 15 digs.

Both teams held strong for set three, with Stanford pushing ahead only by a few points at the start. The Cardinal maintained the lead throughout the set, lengthening the gap as the set neared its end. With an attack error from Washington State and a kill from fifth-year opposite Kendall Kipp, the Cardinal won 25-20.

Set four was yet another close match with neither team letting down. After four ties, Stanford pulled ahead with kills from redshirt senior outside hitter Caitie Baird, Kipp and Francis, on top of a couple of attack errors from Washington State. Kills from Washington State were not enough to match Stanford, as the Cardinal held the Huskies to a .054 hitting percentage and pushed ahead to a 23-20 lead. The final 2 points for the Stanford win were tense, with the Cougars just 1 point behind at 23-24. A kill by Francis, however, closed out the set with a 25-23 win for the Cardinal. 

The 3-1 win was the final conference game between Stanford and Washington State, as the Cardinal move on to the ACC next season.

“This is a good rivalry match for us … we’ve had some incredible battles with them in the Pac-12 and the NCAA tournament, and every single time they force you to bring everything you have. What they have done up in Washington State is nothing short of phenomenal, and it’s certainly sad to see that this is the last time we’re going to play” in the conference, Hambly said.

Stanford vs. Washington

Sunday afternoon recorded another victory in the books for the Cardinal. Set one began strong, with both teams matching each other point-for-point. Stanford began to pull away with a 13-10 lead, and through Baird and Kipp’s 16 kills and 2 aces, the Cardinal secured a set one win. 

With a reverse in scores, set two went to the Huskies 25-23. The Dubs pulled away quickly with a 5-1 lead. Kills by Baird and Francis, an ace by freshman opposite Jordyn Harvey — her first collegiate ace — and Oglivie’s defensive consistency decreased the margin to a 2-point game. The teams were neck-and-neck toward the end of the set, with seven ties from 17 apiece to 23 apiece. Two kills from Washington secured its first set point.

The Cardinal struck offensive harmony in set three, as they outpaced the Huskies by 14 points. Stanford hit at a .593 percentage compared to Washington’s .172, and the set featured an ace from Baird and four from Kipp. Stanford’s various 5-point runs secured a 25-11 victory, but the team was not done yet.

The fourth and final set featured 19 kills from Stanford, contrasting the mere seven from Washington. Despite the Huskies’ attempts to close the gap, the Cardinal outpaced them throughout the set. A kill from Francis solidified the 3-1 Stanford victory, as the set concluded with a 25-19 win for the Cardinal. Francis, coming back from an injury a few weeks ago, had a .520 hit percentage with a season-high 15 kills on 25 swings.

“Like the team, I was still trying to find myself and I think I felt a little bit better tonight than I have in the past,” Francis said. “We’re all finding ourselves again … it’s good to be able to lean on my teammates and know that they’re supportive in helping me.” 

Stanford’s teamwork — on and off the court — is a notable quality in every game played. The team’s communication and consistent group effort aids in achieving countless individual and group successes. Against UW, Miner hit .625 with five kills, totaled 46 assists and achieved 11 digs for her ninth double-double of the season. Oglivie contributed a career-high nine assists with a match high of 24 digs in addition to her ace. Kipp saw a match-high of 15 kills and 10 digs, with five aces and her third double-double of the season. Rubin led Stanford in kills with 14, and redshirt senior middle blocker McKenna Vicini led defensively with three blocks. Defensive specialist Anna Pringle’s success at the service line gave Stanford a necessary edge against the Washington teams.

After a tough loss to No. 15 Arizona State (22-4, 10-4 Pac-12), this weekend’s wins were what the team needed to maintain high morale. “We were all disappointed in our performance last week, and I think just proving ourselves is something we are going to continue to do as we move forward to the end of the Pac-12,” Rubin said. “When times get hard, instead of dividing, we have to come together, and rather than playing as individuals, as one.”

The Cardinal will next face No. 7 Oregon (21-4, 11-3 Pac-12) on Thursday at Maples Pavilion. The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. PT.

Originally posted 2023-11-07 04:57:45.