W. Volleyball: Revenge on SoCal

Nov. 8, 2010, 1:45 a.m.

Facing two of the conference’s strongest teams, the Stanford women’s volleyball team (20-2, 11-2 Pac-10) put on a pair of impressive shows at Maples Pavilion this weekend, decisively beating No. 10 UCLA (17-7, 7-6) on Friday and No. 7 USC (20-4, 9-4) on Sunday.

The two crucial wins, combined with a loss by No. 2 California (21-2, 11-2) to the Trojans on Friday, leave the Cardinal tied with the Golden Bears for first place in the Pac-10 standings.

W. Volleyball: Revenge on SoCal
Hayley Spelman (21) helped to power the Cardinal offense against the Los Angeles schools, posting 23 kills for the weekend. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

On Friday, Stanford had a chance to split the series with UCLA, the first team to hand it a loss this season.

The Card came out firing, taking the first point of the match with a kill from senior outside hitter Alix Klineman that was sent flying into the stands by a UCLA defender. Klineman maintained the intensity, putting an ace down the line a couple of points later. Three early blocks from the Stanford front line frustrated the Bruin offense and extended the Card’s lead to 5-1.

UCLA fought back, finding holes in the Stanford blocking line to put down cross-court kills, tying the set at 12-12. Points went back and forth, with each team killing balls down the line. With the score knotted at 23-23, a kill from Klineman and a UCLA attack into the antenna narrowly sealed a first-set victory for the Card, 25-23.

Stanford put on a more dominant performance in the second set, jumping out to an early 8-3 lead with strong attacks from senior setter Cassidy Lichtman and stellar blocking. A UCLA serve that hit the tape and fell untouched on the Stanford side brought the score within three at 16-13, but powerful hitting from Klineman, Lichtman and sophomore opposite Hayley Spelman drove the Card to a 25-16 victory in the set.

The third set remained close from start to finish-the score was tied 11 times, up to 24-24. However, a late UCLA surge aided by strong blocking and smart attacking helped the Bruins narrowly take the third set, 26-24.

A strong three-kill opening from Klineman helped the Card to a 4-1 start in the fourth set. Despite a mid-set injury to junior middle blocker Stephanie Browne, Stanford maintained its composure, expanding its lead to 17-11. The Bruins attempted a comeback, tying the set at 23-23, but that proved to be the last serious challenge they mounted. A Spelman kill down the line, followed by a beautiful pass from freshman defensive specialist Mary Ellen Luck, a back set from sophomore setter Karissa Cook and a decisive put-down by Lichtman closed the set, 25-23, sealing the match for Stanford.

Klineman led the match with 20 kills, 12 digs and two solo blocks. Senior libero Gabi Ailes was spectacular all night, making pancake digs, one-handed saves and diving overhand passes, leading the match defensively with 23 digs.

For the Bruins, senior outside hitter Dicey McGraw put down 17 kills, and sophomore opposite Rachael Kidder added another 12. Junior libero Lainey Gera led the Bruin defense with 17 digs.

On Sunday, Stanford took on USC, who was fresh off an upset victory over Cal in Berkeley on Friday. However, the Women of Troy proved to be no match for the Card, which swept USC, 25-19, 25-21, 25-19.

The first set opened evenly, with the two teams trading kills and attacking errors. Cook and Lichtman both connected well with their hitters, while Klineman and Spelman powered the Stanford offense. The set remained in a deadlock until 13-13, but Stanford began to pull away. Smart kills from Lichtman, combined with unforced USC errors, led the Card to a 25-19 set victory.

Two aces from freshman middle blocker Carly Wopat helped the Card open the second set with a 5-0 lead. The Trojans rallied to tie the score at 11-11, but repeated attacking errors combined with Stanford’s fierce blocking extended the Card’s lead to 21-14. The Cardinal had several hitting errors and a missed serve late in the game, but did not relinquish the lead, winning the set, 25-21.

The third and final set opened with a Trojan hitting error, and Stanford never trailed. Spelman had five kills and Klineman added another four, and the Card closed the match with a 25-19 win.

Klineman had a match-high 15 kills and .433 hitting percentage in the victory. The setters posted solid numbers, with 24 assists and six digs for Lichtman, and 16 assists and five digs from Cook. Ailes led the match with 14 digs.

For USC, junior outside hitter Alex Jupiter and sophomore opposite Katie Fuller had nine kills apiece, while junior middle blocker Lauren Williams and freshman outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana each put down seven kills. Junior setter Kendall Bateman contributed 37 assists in the loss.

Next weekend, the Card will travel north to take on Washington State on Friday and No. 11 Washington on Saturday.

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