Beach volleyball to battle Broncos

April 22, 2021, 11:56 a.m.

After going 3-1 last weekend at the Pac-12/WCC Challenge, No. 11 Stanford beach volleyball (17-8, 6-4 Pac-12) will take on Santa Clara in a Thursday matinée on the Farm.

The Cardinal narrowly took down two ranked opponents — No. 12 Cal on Satuday and No. 11 Pepperdine on Sunday — in 3-2 outcomes before falling 1-4 to the Golden Bears on Sunday evening. For the weekend action, Stanford adjusted its typical pairings to have freshman Kate Reilly operating in the No. 1 flight with junior regular Charlie Ekstrom. Ekstrom’s usual partner, senior Sunny Villapando, joined freshman Xolani Hodel at the No. 2 spot in place of Reilly. 

The new pairings had varying degrees of success against the challenging field. Ekstrom and Reilly went 1-3 on the weekend, only picking up a victory against Saint Mary’s on Saturday. Villapando and Hodel matched the team’s 3-1 tournament record; a 21-19, 21-16 loss to Cal’s Jordan Polo and Ainsley Radell on Sunday was a late blemish to the duo’s near-perfect weekend showing. 

To be successful against Santa Clara, fans likely hope that the Cardinal revert back to their original No. 1 and No. 2 pairs; the Ekstrom/Villapando duo and Hodel/Reilly team are both 12-8 on the season. 

Senior Amelia Smith and freshman Emmy Sharp will look to extend their 7-0 win streak as the No. 5 pair for the Cardinal after being the only duo to come out on top in all four matches last weekend. Freshman Maya Harvey and sophomore Maddi Kriz will aim to become one victory closer to breaking the program record for wins in a single season; at 16-7 on the year, Harvey and Kriz are two short of the 18 wins picked up by Morgan Hentz ’20 and Smith in 2018. 

Stanford has yet to face the Broncos this season, but is 7-2 historically against the cross-county foe. A win on Thursday would help the Cardinal remain in contention for one of just eight spots in the NCAA Championships. 

The action gets underway at 1 p.m. PT on the Farm and commences the Cardinal’s final weekend of the regular season.

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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