No. 7 Stanford women’s volleyball (12-4, 7-1 Pac-12) added two more conference wins to its tally this weekend, besting Arizona (12-7, 2-6 Pac-12) on Friday and Arizona State (9-11, 3-5 Pac-12) on Sunday.
With these victories, the Cardinal extended their away record so far this season to an imposing 10-1.
Stanford was bolstered in the Grand Canyon State by freshman outside Elia Rubin, who registered 23 kills and 18 digs across the two matches for a solid showing across the board. As the only newcomer in the starting lineup, she has had to learn the ropes quickly, according to head coach Kevin Hambly.
“She misses a few assignments here and there, and there are some things you can do in high school…that you can’t do here,” Hambly said of Rubin’s transition to collegiate-level volleyball. “She’s aware and working on it, and she’s heading in a great direction.”
As has often been the case this season, it took the Cardinal some time to settle in against the Wildcats. But Stanford managed to claw itself back into the set, as sophomore setter Kami Miner connected with Stanford’s middles and pin hitters for a timely offensive push. The Cardinal just managed to edge out Arizona and claim the set 25-23 on a joint block from middle blocker McKenna Vicini and outside Caitie Baird, both redshirt juniors.
When another closely contested set followed, defense from junior libero Elena Oglivie proved critical. After a Baird attack gave Stanford the lead at 9-8, the Cardinal refused to look back and held onto their advantage for the remainder of the set. Although the Wildcats saved a pair of set points, Rubin finally put it away with a kill 25-22.
Fatigue, both physical and mental, seemed to be setting in for Arizona in set three. Stanford jumped out to an early lead, punctuated by a kill from senior opposite Kendall Kipp making it 11-3.
Though the Wildcats attempted a comeback, the Cardinal’s quick start — coupled with a Stanford offense that had more than found its rhythm, and Arizona’s mounting errors — ultimately proved insurmountable. A block by Vicini brought on match point, and though a tricky final point tested Stanford both offensively and defensively, Baird at last tooled the Wildcat block to wrap up the set 25-16 and the win 3-0.
Kipp led the team, hitting .458 with 13 kills. Baird had nine and Rubin, eight. Miner finished with 35 assists, having run an offense in the final set that hit a combined .444.
To capture its second win of the weekend, the team headed to Tempe, Ariz. to take on Arizona State. Though Oglivie was tested on defense, she came away with a season-high 22 digs. Rubin followed up her performance on Friday by adding 15 kills to her weekend total.
The score remained close in the first set, as the Sun Devils and Stanford stayed neck and neck. But at 22-22, the Cardinal lost their momentum. An ASU kill and two Cardinal attack errors allowed the Sun Devils to take the set, 25-22.
“I felt like we were waiting around for them to give us things as opposed to us going out and taking it,” Hambly said of the opening set. “And then I thought after the first set, we played more true to our style, which is to go out and take it from people.”
And set two would prove more successful for the Cardinal. Vicini executed with two kills, and Rubin then brought the team to 14-13 with a strategically placed tip. But the teams remained in a gridlock when Rubin went up to serve at 23-all. She served a perfectly-timed ace to bring on set point. An Arizona State timeout failed to faze Rubin, who aced the Sun Devils again to take the set 25-23.
The momentum had clearly shifted by set three. The Cardinal gained and easily held their lead to win 25-16. Baird, Vicini, Miner, and sophomore middle blocker Sami Francis were strong defenders at the net, tallying five blocks for Stanford. Francis finished it off with a kill at 25-16. The Cardinal followed with another comfortable win in the fourth set at 25-16 to clinch the match 3-1.
“We’re progressing on the things that we should, and our passing has really set it out and our defense is getting better and better,” Hambly said. “So I think I’m pleased with our progress knowing that we have a long way to go still.”
After their successful Arizona road trip, the Cardinal will return to the Farm next weekend to face UCLA (9-8, 3-5 Pac-12) and No. 17 USC (15-4, 7-1 Pac-12). First serve against the Bruins is scheduled for Oct. 21 at 8 p.m.