Going into its away match against No. 2 Nebraska (7-1, 0-0 Big Ten) on Tuesday night, No. 9 Stanford women’s volleyball (5-2, 0-0 Pac-12) had a tough act to follow. Just three days before, the Cardinal had earned the most significant upset of their season thus far with a four-set win over then-No. 3 Minnesota (4-2, 0-0 Big Ten).
But Stanford once again provided its ability to compete with and beat top-ranked teams, prevailing over the Huskers 3-1 and extending its record on the road to 5-0.
The teams locked into a tight battle early in the first set, exchanging points before Nebraska managed to pull away to a 13-9 lead. Top-notch play from the Cardinal lineup kept them within striking distance, but the Huskers managed to hold them off and retain a slim lead.
That was until back-to-back kills from freshman outside Elia Rubin brought Stanford within one, 21-22. Although Nebraska refused to back down in the points that followed, the Cardinal continued to chip away at the Husker advantage and found themselves with set point at 24-23. Stanford was then denied the set twice. But with the score tied at 25, it was Nebraska that made two consecutive errors to gift-wrap set one for the Cardinal, 27-25.
Stanford looked to capitalize as they jumped out to an early advantage in the second set. Though the Huskers managed to force several ties, they never took the lead. Rubin broke the final tie at 20-all with a kill, and from there the team’s composure held strong. Though their lead remained narrow and Nebraska allowed little breathing room, a kill from redshirt junior outside Caitie Baird brought on set point. The Cardinal converted it a couple points later to take the set 25-22 after another Husker error.
Both teams were serving aggressively — by night’s end, they would rack up 37 service errors between them — but after the first two sets, it appeared that Stanford was executing more consistently when it counted.
After staying neck-and-neck with the Cardinal for much of the third set, Nebraska went on an inspired run to win seven of the last eight points. Two service aces from Nebraska’s Whitney Lauenstein closed out the set 25-19 and killed Stanford’s hopes of a sweep.
Still up 2-1 but knowing the depth of Nebraska’s team, the Cardinal fought hard from the first serve to make set four the last one. After 15 different tied scores and a relentless battle for the lead, Baird found set point for Stanford 24-23. However, two kills from Nebraska’s Lindsay Krause quickly flipped the script and forced the Cardinal to defend against the possibility of a fifth deciding set.
Senior opposite Kendall Kipp stepped up for Stanford, tipping the ball short and out of reach for the Huskers’ defense to tie the score at 25. Next it was Rubin, who brought on set point with her thirteenth kill of the match. A critical dig from sophomore setter Kami Miner kept the last point alive, and Kipp tooled a block to claim the set 27-25, and the upset 3-1.
Kipp led the Cardinal with 15 kills, while Rubin finished with a career-high 13 and Baird with 10. Miner had 41 assists, while junior libero Elena Oglive recorded a match-high 21 digs. Sophomore Sami Francis and redshirt junior McKenna Vicini, both middle blockers, posted five blocks apiece.
Stanford will return home to face No. 3 Louisville (7-1, 0-0) on Saturday, Sept. 17. First serve in Maples Pavilion is scheduled for 7 p.m.