The No. 6 Stanford women’s volleyball team (17-5, 11-3 Pac-12) returns to the Pacific Northwest this Thursday to take on the No. 3 Washington Huskies (22-2, 12-2). When these two teams last saw each other, Stanford came away with a thrilling five-set upset, kicking off the squad’s current six-game win streak.
“I think our team looks forward to matches like this,” said head coach John Dunning. “We want to find out how good we are.”
Washington has been dominant all year, with its only two losses coming against Stanford and the then-undefeated USC Trojans. Since their loss on the road at Stanford, the Huskies have been undefeated, winning five matches against Pac-12 teams and sweeping the Trojans — handing USC its only loss this season.
The Huskies have one of the strongest front lines in the nation, anchored by senior middle blockers Melanie Wade and Lianna Sybeldon. Wade and Sybeldon rank second and fourth in the Pac-12 with 1.41 and 1.31 blocks per set, respectively, and the team combines for a conference-leading 3.03 blocks per set.
Sybeldon also poses a threat offensively, leading the nation with a .480 hitting percentage. As a team, Washington enters the match with the national third-best hitting percentage (.311) and second-best opponent hitting percentage (.133), leading the Pac-12 in both categories as well.
After seeing mixed results early in the season, Stanford has also been on a hot streak lately, losing only one set since its win over the then-No. 4 Huskies on Oct. 21. The team has been historically dominant at Maples Pavilion, but this time, the Cardinal will seek to prove themselves with an upset over Washington on the road.
The Cardinal’s recent success has come as a result of a remarkably well-balanced attack. Reigning Pac-12 Setter of the Year Madi Bugg leads the Pac-12 with 10.95 assists per set. The senior setter will help to diversify the Cardinal’s attack, spreading out touches among the team’s strongest hitters.
Outside hitter Hayley Hodson looks to continue her sensational freshman season, as she leads the team in kills per set (3.85), service aces (28) and points per set (4.56). Junior middle blocker Merete Lutz and senior outside hitter Brittany Howard round out the team’s top three in points per set with 3.89 and 3.59, respectively.
With 1,264 career digs, senior outside hitter Jordan Burgess needs only 22 more to pass Kerri Walsh ’00 and move into sixth place on the Stanford all-time career digs list.
Even with their plethora of talent, the Cardinal will need to be firing on all cylinders on Thursday if they want to escape unscathed against a talented Washington team that has an eye on getting revenge on Stanford.
“They remember it,” said Howard about the Cardinal’s previous win over Washington, “and now we’re playing on their home court, so they definitely have some extra motivation.
“But we remember it too: We were down and we fought back. We’re ready to do it again.”
The Cardinal look to extend their win streak as they take on the Washington Huskies at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, in Seattle. The match will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.
Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.