Cardinal soar over Huskies and Cougars

No. 3 Stanford women’s volleyball (13-2, 6-0 Pac-12) continued its incredible season with a 3-1 win against the University of Washington (11-6, 2-4 Pac-12) and a 3-1 victory over No. 4 Washington State (15-2, 5-1 Pac-12).

With strong showing in back-to-back games against top competitors, Stanford closed the weekend with a seven-game winning streak.

The Friday game began tight with redshirt senior middle blocker McKenna Vicini hitting a kill for Stanford and freshman outside hitter Kierstyn Barton hitting one for Washington. The Cardinal, however, quickly turned the 5-5 tie into a 12-5 lead, featuring junior setter Kami Miner’s two service aces. Set one ended in an exceptional 25-15 victory for Stanford.

Washington started the second set with an 8-7 lead, only for Stanford to respond with a 4-0 run. The teams were tied 13-13 and later 17-17, but the set ended with a close 25-21 victory for Washington. 

Stanford started the third set strong with a 10-3 lead featuring various aces from sophomore outside hitter Elia Rubin and junior defensive specialist Taylor Beaven. Though the Huskies worked to close the gap, they could not reach the Cardinal, who responded quickly to Washington’s attempts.

Set three ended with a 25-19 victory for Stanford, thanks to a 3-0 run from the team that featured fifth-year opposite Kendall Kipp’s kills and senior libero Elena Oglivie’s service ace. 

The final set began with a strong 5-1 lead for Stanford. The Huskies attempted to match the Cardinal with a 6-6 tie, but Stanford pushed through with a 5-0 win to lead 11-6.

The game featured a couple back-and-forth runs, eventually settling the game at 19-15 with a kill from Rubin, a service ace from Kipp and a forced attack error from Vicini’s block. After a service error from Washington, the set ended with a 25-21 victory for the Cardinal.

The team, however, was not done just yet, as Sunday’s match against Washington State gifted the Cardinal another exciting victory. 

Set one featured an incredibly offensive game from both the Cougars and the Cardinal. The set was tight, with kills from both teams matching each other’s points for the entire game. A kill from Rubin and Vicini pushed Stanford ahead to 30-29, and redshirt senior outside hitter Caitie Baird’s kill finished the set for Stanford at 31-29. 

The start of set two was no different. The No. 4 and No. 3 teams battled it out on the court. Washington State started with a 0-4 lead, but kills from Kipp, Rubin and Vicini and an ace from Timmer allowed the Cardinal to push past at a 11-7 lead. The team fought hard this set, and Baird’s consecutive kills gave the Cardinal a 29-27 set two win. 

Washington State started the third set with an early 3-8 lead. Stanford responded with kills from Miner, Vicini, Kipp, Rubin and Baird that, paired with three service aces, led to a 18-19 point difference with Stanford only one behind. Set 3 closed out with a 23-25 win for WSU.

Set four was a critical one and the Cardinal played accordingly. The top-five teams battled it out, with kills from Baird, Rubin and Kipp, as well as an ace from Baird setting the team at a 19-13 lead. The Cougars attempted to reach the Cardinal’s kill rate, but were unable to, ultimately facing defeat as Baird once more ended the 25-18 set with a kill.

After the game, Baird said that the team focused on playing set four as strongly as they could.

The 3-1 game was not only a victory for Stanford, but also featured many incredible accomplishments from the Cardinal. The team ranged from 13 to 20 set kills, compared to their 14.6 set average, and the game also saw 10 aces from Stanford — an outstanding high, especially for a top-five matchup. 

After the game, women’s volleyball coach Kevin Hambly emphasized the importance of the team’s offense-heavy strategy. The seventh-year Stanford head coach told The Daily that although there were numerous service errors during the game, the aggressive offensive strategy was needed in the context of the game, especially with the high number of aces each team served.

Rubin tied her career kill count at 21 kills and 10 digs and Miner held a 59 assist count, just an assist off from her career count. Oglivie’s 27 digs were not only one shy of her career-high, but resulted in a season best. Senior outside hitter Malia Tufuga showed a strong defense to the Washington State team with a match-high of seven blocks, two of which were solo. 

Stanford volleyball returns to Maples Pavilion to host its LA slate next: USC on Oct. 13 and UCLA on Oct. 15. 

Originally posted 2023-10-10 05:31:32.