Alix Klineman racks up 60 kills over weekend to lead Stanford
In the opening weekend of Pac-10 Conference play, the No. 1 Stanford women’s volleyball team (11-0, 2-0 Pac-10) won swift victories over both Arizona State (5-8, 0-2) and Arizona (10-4, 0-2).
The Card left Tempe with a slim 3-1 victory over ASU, 25-23, 27-25, 23-25, 25-21.
Early service and attacking errors from both sides kept the first set close. After getting over its conference-opening jitters, Stanford strung together a streak of six first-strike side-outs at 16-16, en route to winning its first set of Pac-10 competition, 25-23.
The second set likewise went to Stanford, 27-25. Each team posted its lowest hitting percentage of the night with .216 and .259 for ASU and Stanford, respectively. Effective defense by the two experienced liberos, Stanford senior Gabi Ailes and ASU senior Sarah Johnson, was critical in preventing either team from gaining a significant offensive edge. Ailes earned a match-high 24 digs, while Johnson was runner-up with 21.
ASU demonstrated renewed spirit after the break, pulling out the third set, 25-23. The Cardinal fell four points behind mid-set after three consecutive hitting errors, each from a different player. The Sun Devils were led by the offense of senior outside hitter Sarah Reaves and sophomore middle blocker Erica Wilson, who hit .250 and .500 respectively on the match.
The Cardinal took the fourth set 25-21 under the leadership of senior outside hitter Alix Klineman, who reeled in 11 kills in the fourth set en route to earning a career-high 39 kills on the match. ASU’s Reaves totaled the next-highest 23 kills on 68 attempts, as both players took over twice the number of swings and merited twice as many kills as any given teammate.
Arizona, though boasting a better record than ASU, dropped quickly to the Cardinal in straight sets, 25-14, 25-19, 25-23.
The Wildcats were at a disadvantage before the first set even began, as a submission of the wrong line-up forced them into an unconventional format. The ensuing confusion prevented Arizona from gaining momentum against the Card.
A well-executed side-out game from Stanford brought it the first set easily, 25-14.
While a serving run by sophomore setter Karissa Cook gave Stanford a decisive six-point lead in the second set, it was the critical timing of service errors by the Wildcats that ultimately cost them the set going into the break.
Arizona posted its best score of the night in the third set, led by junior opposite Courtney Karst and senior outside hitter Tiffany Owens, who brought Arizona back to tie the score at 20-20 after being down 17-12. Owens led her team with 39 attempts on the match, as the weight of the Arizona offense rested largely on the pin hitters. The performances of these key players yielded crucially timed kills—from Karst and Owens in particular—that nearly cost the Card its sweep down the stretch.
Stanford rested Cook in the third, moving away from its traditional two-setter offense. Senior setter Cassidy Lichtman took control of the set, setting up Klineman for the three kills that closed out the match. She contributed 21 kills on the night, making her the uncontested kill leader for the seventh consecutive match.
“It felt really good to start off the Pac-10 2-0. Everyone knows how hard it is to win on the road, especially in this conference,” Klineman said. “Arizona State definitely showed us that we still have some things to work on, but it always feels good to walk away with a win.”
The Card will continue Pac-10 competition this weekend at Maples Pavilion, facing Oregon State on Friday and Oregon on Saturday. Both matches will start at 7 p.m.