Sand volleyball closes out season with consecutive victories

April 27, 2015, 11:16 p.m.

The Stanford sand volleyball team (11-4) finished up its season strong with a 3-2 win at home against Santa Clara on Thursday and another 3-2 victory against Cal in Berkeley on Sunday.

The Thursday win over the Santa Clara Broncos (7-7) wasn’t easy. The Cardinal suffered an early loss when the No. 4 pair of sophomore Kelsey Humphreys and freshman Catherine Raquel lost both of their first two matches by a score of 21-16.

(AVI BAGLA/The Stanford Daily)
After facing stiff competition from the No. 1 pair of Santa Clara, senior Lauren Birks and her partner junior Brittany Howard bounced back against Cal to record a match-clinching three set win. (AVI BAGLA/The Stanford Daily)

No. 5-seeded junior Inky Ajanaku and sophomore Grace Kennedy tied the match when they went 21-12, 19-21 and dominated their last game with a 15-5 win.

The No. 1 pair for the Cardinal, senior Lauren Birks and junior Brittany Howard, suffered another loss when they went 11-21 and 23-25 in their first two sets. Stanford came back to snag the win, however, when the No. 2 pair of junior Madi Bugg and sophomore Ivana Vanjak and the No. 3 pair of junior Jordan Burgess and sophomore Merete Lutz both had dominating performances.

After the game against Santa Clara, the team was ready to get back on the road and finish off its season against rival UC Berkeley (7-15). The Stanford indoor volleyball team — which also comprises the majority of the sand team — already beat Cal 3-0 twice this year and was ready to do the same on the sand.

“It’s a good rivalry any time you have those uniforms opposite each other,” said head coach John Dunning.

“In terms of competition level, they’re about the same as us,” said Burgess, an All-American outside hitter when playing indoors. “All the matches should be really good.”

Playing on the Bears’ sand courts for the first time in program and rivalry history, the Stanford team struggled early on when both the No. 4 and 5 pairs lost their matches.

But the team quickly recovered. The No. 3 pair of Burgess and Lutz lost their first game 18-21 but came back to win the final two 21-18, 15-10. The No. 2 team had a dominating performance, shutting out the Bears with a 21-16, 22-20 win. Sealing the deal were Howard and Birks, who went 21-16, 15-21, 15-11.

“Our game came down to the wire, which was really satisfying for us as a pair to finish out our successful season,” Birks said. “It was a great day for our team to go to another team’s court and take care of business.”

Contact Laura Stickells at lauraczs ‘at’

Laura Stickells is one of the Managing Editors of Sports at The Stanford Daily. Growing up in the small, rural town of Bishop, California, Laura captained the powderpuff football team and became particularly adept at driving heavy equipment in her later years, a skill that helped her find a position as an intern at NBC Sports this summer working on Olympic coverage. In her spare time, Laura competes on the Stanford Equestrian Team. She also writes football better than the boys. Laura is a sophomore majoring in communications and can be reached at lauraczs 'at'

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