The No. 8 Stanford women’s volleyball team (7-2, 1-0 Pac-12) headed across the Bay to play UC Berkeley (6-6, 0-1 Pac-12) Tuesday night at Haas Pavilion, defeating Berkeley 25-23, 27-25, 20-25, 25-16.
Freshman outside hitter Hayley Hodson led the team with a career high 18 kills, with senior outside hitter Brittany Howard close behind with 14 and a .462 attacking percentage. Senior setter Madi Bugg continued to dominate with 42 assists along with 4 kills and 17 digs.
The Cardinal stumbled in the beginning of the first set, falling behind Berkeley 5-1. After a timeout, Stanford regained its footing after several kills by Hodson and junior middle blocker Merete Lutz, pulling within two. The front row illustrated impressive resilience and strategic hitting skills at the net, eventually pushing Stanford to lead 16-14 and forcing Berkeley to call its first timeout.
Despite a well-rounded effort by Cal to slow down the Cardinal’s momentum, keeping the score within two for the majority of the set, Stanford remained in the lead and won the first set off another kill by Hodson.
The beginning of the second set proved to be even tougher for Stanford, with the Cardinal and the Bears alternating leads and tying the game many times, even up to the 25th point.
Two kills from Howard and a Cal attack error gave Stanford a 13-9 lead over Berkeley. However, Cal wasn’t ready to drop the set and came back to tie the game at 14-14. The score remained tight, with the two teams staying within 1 point of each other for the rest of the set. Luckily, Stanford prevailed with a kill from Howard and a crucial hitting error from Berkeley to gain the 2-point advantage that would give the Cardinal a 27-25 win.
Unlike the first two sets, Stanford came out with a strong start to the third set with tough blocks by Hodson and Lutz and offensive errors from Berkeley, earning the team a 5-0 run.
Cal once again fought back, quickly catching up to Stanford with a five-point run of its own to tie the score. Towards the middle of the set, kills from Hodson and Howard gave Stanford a bigger lead until Berkeley caught up at 15. A few points later, the Bears unexpectedly took the lead at 18-17 , which they would not relinquish, forcing Stanford into a fourth set.
With the determination to come back from an off third set, defeat its rival and start conference play undefeated, the Cardinal finished the match with their strongest set, posting a game-high .688 attacking percentage.
After an early deadlock, the Cardinal distanced themselves from Berkeley with strategic kills from the front row and a tight-knit defense that recorded several blocks and forced 8 attacking errors from Berkeley. In the end, Stanford prevailed, ending the fourth set 25-16, its largest lead throughout the match.
This Sunday, women’s volleyball will return home to Maples Pavilion to play No. 3 USC. The match will begin at 4 p.m. and can be streamed through Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Divine Edem at dedem ‘at’ stanford.edu.