Baird vs. Bruins: Redshirt junior leads women’s volleyball past UCLA

Oct. 22, 2022, 11:36 p.m.

In front of a lively home crowd on Friday night, No. 7 Stanford women’s volleyball (13-4, 8-1 Pac-12) refused to relinquish a single set against UCLA (9-9, 3-6 Pac-12), outplaying the Bruins for a 3-0 win. 

The team was led by redshirt junior outside Caitie Baird, who posted a team-best and season-best 18 kills on a .485 hitting percentage. Overall, Baird and her teammates dispatched the Bruins with a combined hitting percentage of .360 to UCLA’s .241.

UCLA started off strong in the first set until kills from freshman outside Elia Rubin turned the game around for the Cardinal. For the remainder of the opening set, the Bruins struggled against Stanford’s well-executed blocks.

But UCLA caught up after taking a late timeout. Stanford was forced to pick up its pace to fend off the late comeback effort from the Bruins and close out the set. Baird and redshirt junior middle blocker McKenna Vicini teamed up for a block, which was followed by a kill from Rubin to bring on set point.

Senior opposite Kendall Kipp converted by sending a destructive kill through the Bruin block. Cheers filled Maples Pavilion, with Stanford’s 25-23 set win stoking excitement for the gameplay still to come.

The Bruins started quickly in the second set, with two early aces to lead 6-1. But they were soon thrown off their rhythm when a call in their favor was overruled after official review.

Sophomore setter Kami Miner took full advantage of this distraction, displaying great consistency at the net. She surprised UCLA with attacks of her own, much to the excitement of the home crowd.

Baird’s attack game was also solid and helped Stanford get back into the set. Combined with the substitution of freshman defensive specialist Anna Pringle, together the pair picked up the pace for the Cardinal. Pringle’s assists to Kipp and Baird allowed Stanford to take set two, 25-21.

The third set was neck-and-neck, with the Cardinal’s exceptional defense forcing nine tied scores throughout. Sophomore middle blocker Sami Francis led Stanford with strong play in the final set, while junior libero Elena Oglivie’s saves produced exciting rallies that kept the audience on its feet.

With the lethal duo of Miner running a strategic offense and Baird finding tricky angles on the attack, Stanford wrapped up the set 25-20 and the match in straight sets.

Overall, Stanford out-blocked UCLA with 11 effective blocks. Along with Baird’s 18 kills, Kipp and Rubin each had 11. Miner finished with a match-high 42 assists, and Oglivie contributed 13 digs. Baird completed a double-double with 10 digs of her own.

Stanford will stay home for their next game against USC (16-4, 8-1 Pac-12) on Sunday, Oct. 23. First serve against the Trojans is set for 1 p.m. in Maples Pavilion.

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