Beach volleyball fails to execute at Stanford tournament

April 11, 2016, 1:48 a.m.

Stanford beach volleyball (5-8) failed to build momentum at home this weekend, as the team dropped three of its four matches at the Stanford Sand Volleyball Stadium.

Freshman Halland McKenna (14)
Freshman Halland McKenna (above) proved to be one of the only steady components of the Cardinal squad at the No.3 spot with partner junior Merete Lutz, winning 3 of 4 matches at the Stanford tournament. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

The Cardinal rallied in the third set of their No. 2 match against Arizona State to topple the Sun Devils, but fell against Oregon and conceded games to St. Mary’s and Boise State for the second time this season.

In its opening event against the Broncos, Stanford found itself in a deep hole early after conceding points at the No. 4 and No. 5 spots. The team did manage to rebound a little at the No. 3 spot as junior Merete Lutz and freshman Halland McKenna held firm against their opponent, but a three-set Boise State win at the No. 1 spot over freshmen Hayley Hodson and Payton Chang secured a victory for the visitors.

Junior Ivana Vanjak and sophomore Catherine Raquel earned a consolation victory to narrow the final tally to 3-2.

The afternoon dual against Arizona State proceeded quite similarly, but a third set push by freshmen Courtney Bowen and Jennifer DiSanto flipped the result of the No. 4 match to keep the Cardinal even early. Lutz and McKenna added another victory and Vanjak and Raquel came back from being narrowly edged in the second set to hand Stanford a victory over its Pac-12 rival.

“We really needed that final point from [Vanjak] and [Raquel] to beat Arizona State. After losing our first dual of the day it was imperative that we build some momentum for tomorrow,” head coach Denise Corlett said after the end of the first day of play. “The continued strong play of [Lutz] and [McKenna] has been particularly impressive as well.”

Stanford proved unable to capitalize on its victory over the Sun Devils, however, as the team fell to Oregon in a back and forth match early on Sunday afternoon.

Despite winning the first sets at both the No. 4 and No. 5 spots, the Cardinal found themselves down 2-0 to the Ducks after both opposing pairs recorded two-point second set victories and then closed in the third set. Stanford quickly recaptured the momentum, however, with Lutz and McKenna adding another victory and Vanjak and Raquel holding firm to tie the scoreline.

With the game level at 2-2, all things fell to Hodson and Chang at the No. 1 spot. In an extremely contentious match, the pair took its first set but couldn’t keep its opponents at bay as it fell 22-20 in the second set and 15-12 in the third, conceding the dual in the process.

Things went from bad to worse in Stanford’s final match, in which the Gaels took advantage of the Cardinal’s fatigue to land a 4-1 overall victory. The team briefly looked in good shape after freshman Tami Alade and sophomore Karina Robinson rallied from down 1-0 to take their match at the No. 5 spot, but strong performances across the board for St. Mary’s sunk every other Cardinal pair in two sets, ending a seven-match win streak for Lutz and McKenna and a three-match streak for Vanjak and Raquel in the process.

“I felt we let an opportunity get away from us in the first match, but give Oregon credit for fighting back at the end,” Corlett said of the final day. “Saint Mary’s is also a very good team. The positive thing for our team is that we keep fighting to the end and will continue to find a way to win the right matches.”

Stanford will close its home schedule with a double-header against San Jose State and Santa Clara this Thursday.


Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’

Andrew Mather served as a sports editor and as the Chief Operating Officer of The Daily. A devout Clippers and Iowa Hawkeyes fan from the suburbs of Los Angeles, Mather grew accustomed to watching his favorite programs snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He brought this nihilistic pessimism to The Daily, where he often felt a sense of déjà vu while covering basketball, football and golf.

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