No. 17 Stanford women’s volleyball (9-5, 4-2 Pac-12) finished up its road trip in the Pacific Northwest against No. 14 Oregon (14-2, 5-1 Pac-12) Sunday afternoon. The evenly matched teams went the distance at Matthew Knight Arena, but ultimately, the Ducks prevailed 3-2, marking Stanford’s first loss to Oregon in 10 years.
The Cardinal struggled to kickstart their offense in the first set. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Caitie Baird led the way with three kills, but the team posted a dismal .079 hitting percentage to start the match.
Defensively, Stanford was back to full strength; sophomore libero Elena Oglivie returned for her second game after she suffered a concussion against UCLA two weeks ago. After Stanford went down 16-22, Oglivie made an impressive one-handed dig to keep the play alive. Eventually, the Cardinal won the point on a block by Baird.
Stanford went on a 4-0 run to cut the Oregon lead to two, but in the end, the Cardinal were outmatched offensively. The Ducks won the first set 25-21, as their junior outside hitter Brooke Nuneviller tallied seven kills.
The second set was tight the whole way, with neither team gaining more than a three-point lead. Stanford trailed 20-21 before junior opposite Kendall Kipp responded with a kill off a pass from freshman setter Kami Miner.
Following another kill by Kipp, the teams were tied at 23. Oregon redshirt senior outside hitter Taylor Borup made an attack error to give Stanford the lead, and on the ensuing set point, Stanford won on another Oregon error.
The third set felt eerily similar to the second, and the final result was identical: Stanford won 25-23.
After a slow start to the match, freshman outside hitter Sami Francis came up huge for the Cardinal. In total, she registered five kills in the third set, including a crucial kill to give Stanford a 23-20 lead.
Senior middle blocker Holly Campbell snuck a spike through the defense to make the score 24-22. Two points later, another attack error by Borup gave the Cardinal the win.
After back-to-back wins, Stanford looked to close out Oregon in the fourth set. The Cardinal took a narrow 7-6 lead before a net violation by Nuneviller. On the violation, Nuneviller’s momentum carried her under the net. Francis, who was blocking on the play, came down awkwardly on top of Nuneviller’s foot. Francis left the game with an ankle injury but thankfully returned later in the set.
The match pressed on, and the Ducks took a 16-12 lead. The Cardinal immediately followed with a 4-0 run to even the score at 16. The teams battled back and forth, tying the score again at 20, 21 and 22.
Back on the floor, Francis set up a Kipp for a kill to level the score at 23. Stanford was momentarily within two points of the victory, but Nuneviller responded with a kill to give Oregon a 24-23 lead.
On the following play, Miner found the open floor with a setter dump. However, the refs quickly blew the whistle for Oregon, as Miner committed a net violation. The teams were destined for a deciding fifth set.
In the first-to-15 final set, a fast start can mean everything. A quick few points to start the frame can completely change a team’s momentum and reverse the outcome of the match.
Unfortunately for the Cardinal, Oregon opened the fifth set on a mission, winning the first three points and later taking a 6-1 lead. Stanford made a final push, going on a 4-0 run, but Oregon responded with its own 3-0 run. In the end, the Ducks outlasted the Cardinal to win the set 15-11 and the match 3-2.
For the match, Kipp and Francis led the team with 15 kills apiece. Campbell recorded 11 kills on a sky-high .556 hitting percentage. Miner had a game-high 47 assists, while Oglivie tied for the most digs with 26.
The Cardinal will look to get revenge against the Ducks on Nov. 4, when they face off again at Maples Pavilion. Before then, Stanford will return home to face No. 15 Utah. First serve against the Utes is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT on Thursday.