With a rematch against No. 4 USC rapidly approaching, Stanford’s women’s volleyball hopes to earn a victory Friday against Oregon State to carry some momentum into next Wednesday’s showdown.
The No. 6 Cardinal (14-4, 7-2 Pac-12) hits the mid-way point of its Pac-12 season with Friday’s game against the Beavers (9-10, 0-8), who are still looking for their first conference win this season.
Stanford is coming off a sweep against the No. 20 Oregon Ducks, in which it hit .296 and totaled 14 team blocks, one less than its season-high. It was a bounce-back victory after the team’s five-set loss to previous No. 6 Washington last Sunday, improving the Cardinal’s record to 20-4 in matches after a loss over the last five seasons.
The Card is 56-0 all-time against Oregon State, including two sweeps of the Beavers in the 2012 season. Senior outside hitter Carly Wopat hit .516 with 18 kills over the two matches, while sophomore outside hitter Brittany Howard had 17 kills and 21 digs.
While Oregon State started the season with nine wins in its first 11 games, it has not won a match since Sept. 20 against Long Beach State. Since the skid began at the start of conference play, the team ranks last in the Pac-12 in team hitting, kills, assists and blocks. While that clearly shows the strength of the conference, which currently boasts three of the six top teams in the country, the Beavers’ drop-off from a .242 hitting percentage in their first 11 games to a .125 mark over their last eight also conveys internal struggles.
“I need to give this team credit for really battling but right now, we are still making too many unforced errors,” head coach Taras Liskevych told osubeavers.com after Oregon State’s three-set loss to Colorado last Sunday. “When you are in a losing streak, it is very tough to be aggressive at the end of sets. That’s what we have to do. We have to get in there, be aggressive and finish the game.”
Still, the Beavers have a couple players to watch: one each on the offensive and defensive ends. Senior libero Becky Defoe ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 4.41 digs per set this season, and has a chance to reach a career milestone by the end of the season. She currently has 1,831 career digs, and if she tallies about 14 digs per match for the rest of the season, she’ll become just the 10th player in Pac-12 history with 2,000 career digs. Meanwhile, senior setter Tayla Woods controls the Beaver offense, averaging 9.89 assists per set this season, which ranks seventh in the conference.
With just four full days after this match before its next one against USC, Stanford will look to take care of Oregon State quickly before moving on to film study and preparation for the top team in the Pac-12.
The Cardinal takes on the Beavers at 7 p.m. Friday at Maples Pavilion.
Contact Jordan Wallach at jwallach ‘at’ stanford.edu.