Beach volleyball off to Tuscon for Pac-12 South Invitational

March 26, 2021, 9:54 p.m.

A busy four-match weekend in Tuscon at the Pac-12 South Invitational serves as an opportunity for No. 18 Stanford beach volleyball (7-3, 1-2 Pac-12) to extend its win streak. The Cardinal has not lost since being outdone by UCLA on Feb. 27 and now has six straight victories under its belt.

The win streak is the team’s longest since 2018, when the Cardinal came out on top in 11 straight matches. An even more exciting sign for Stanford fans is that two of the team’s last six victories came against top-10 opponents, with No. 6 Hawai’i and No. 8 Grand Canyon University falling at the hands of the Cardinal on Mar. 22 and Mar. 25, respectively. 

It was the first time in program history that Stanford had defeated Hawai’i, although that was not the only memorable achievement of the Monday matinées; senior Sunny Villapando recorded her 50th and 51st victories to become the program’s all-time career wins leader. With junior Charlie Ekstrom, Villapando has dominated in the No. 1 spot for Stanford, with the pair moving to 8-1 on the season following the Mar. 25 action against GCU and Arizona State. 

The pair’s narrow 17-21, 21-17, 15-6 victory over Arizona State’s Katelyn Carballo and Lexi Sweeney was the clinching point for the Cardinal in the Pac-12 showdown. Freshmen Xolani Hodel and Kate Reilly, operating as the No. 2 pair, had already raced to a 21-13, 21-12 victory over Emily Anderson and Aleksandra Sochaka; Stanford’s No. 4 pair of juniors Maddie Dailey and Jordan McKinney pushed the Cardinal’s lead to 2-0 with a 21-19, 21-9 defeat of Taryn Ames and Kate Fitzgerald. 

Hodel and Reilly have quickly proven their skill and comfort at the collegiate level as Thursday’s victories moved the freshman duo to 7-2 in their debut season. The Cardinal’s No. 3 pairing of sophomore Maddie Kriz and freshman Maya Harvey have also consistently demonstrated the program’s young talent, with an 8-2 record on the season being the fruit of their labor. 

In Tuscon, Stanford will take on No. 14 Arizona, Utah, Arizona State and Washington in four matches over two days. A 10:15 a.m. PT meeting with the Wildcats will get the Cardinal action underway on Saturday, with the Utes following at 2 p.m. PT.

Savanna Stewart is a managing editor in the Sports section. She is a junior from Twin Bridges, Montana studying Political Science and Communication and enjoys running and playing basketball. Contact her at sstewart 'at'

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