Stanford’s unbeaten run comes to an end in Washington

Nov. 27, 2014, 10:09 a.m.

Stanford women’s volleyball team, poised to become the 18th Division I team to finish an undefeated regular season in the NCAA era, saw its unbeaten run come to an end Wednesday night in Seattle, Wash. in front of the biggest crowd in Pac-12 history.

Sophomore middle blocker Merete Lutz (left) had eight kills and a match-high-tying five blocks in the Cardinal’s first loss of the season on Wednesday night at No. 5 Washington. Stanford’s middles were held at bay, however, by the Husky defense throughout the match. (HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA/stanfordphoto.comgi)

8,646 fans were on hand at the Alaska Airlines Arena as No. 5 Washington (28-2, 17-2 Pac-12) celebrated Senior Night and also made the race for the Pac-12 Championship a lot more interesting. The No. 1 Cardinal (28-1, 18-1) were plagued by errors throughout the night and were overpowered from start to finish as they fell in four sets, 18-25, 21-25, 25-23, 20-25.

Stanford hit just .265 in the match, as they had a season-high 40 total errors — 17 attack, 11 service, nine receiving and three blocking. Washington hit .331, spurred by an inspired performance from senior Krista Vansant, the reigning AVCA National Player of the Year. The Redlands, California native dominated the Cardinal defense from start to finish, something that’s become customary over the years, as she had a match-high 21 kills while hitting .304.

The Huskies, who entered the match leading the conference with an average of 1.53 aces per set, did not waste any time to show their serving prowess. They notched six of their nine service aces in the first set — three from their top server, junior libero Cassie Strickland. The Washington serve seemed to keep the Cardinal out of system for most of the match, especially in the early going as they had trouble getting the ball to their bread and butter on offense — their middle blockers. While sophomore Merete Lutz and junior Inky Ajanaku had accounted for 41 percent of the team’s kills entering Wednesday, the two tallied just seven kills combined over the first two sets against the Huskies.

While Stanford battled back from an early third-set deficit to close the Washington lead to 2-1, they never got much closer than that. The Cardinal took an 11-10 lead in the fourth set on a Husky service error, but they lost all of their momentum shortly afterwards. Washington went on a 9-2 run — with two timeouts from head coach John Dunning in between unable to stop the bleeding — to open up a 19-13 lead that they would never surrender.

Junior outside hitter Jordan Burgess led the Cardinal with 14 kills in the match, adding eight digs and two blocks. Ajanaku and senior opposite hitter Morgan Boukather each added 11 kills. Junior setter Madi Bugg notched 48 assists and 13 digs for her 14th double-double of the season.

While Stanford clinched a share of the Pac-12 Championship with its win over Colorado last Saturday, the team will still need a win in its final match of the regular season to win the conference outright. The Cardinal travel to Cal for another edition of the Big Spike on Friday at 3 p.m. The match will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

Contact Jordan Wallach at jwallach ‘at’

Jordan Wallach is a Senior Staff Writer at The Stanford Daily. He was previously the Managing Editor of Sports, a sports desk editor for two volumes and he continues to work as a beat writer for Stanford's baseball, football and women's volleyball teams. Jordan is a junior from New York City majoring in Mathematical and Computational Science. To contact him, please send him an email at jwallach 'at'

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