No. 7 Stanford beach volleyball (4-2, 0-0 Pac-12) claimed second place on Saturday in the team’s season opener at the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Beach Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Cardinal started off the tournament in a round robin against No. 1 UCLA (6-0, 0-0 Pac-12), Saint Mary’s (2-5, 0-0 WCC), Stephen F. Austin (0-5, 0-0 SBC) and No. 10 Hawaii (3-3, 0-0 BWC). The team defeated Hawaii in the semifinals to advance to the championship match, which it lost 4-1 to UCLA.
The first day was a success for the Cardinal, beginning with a 4-1 win over Stephen F. Austin. Senior Maddi Kriz—who reached her 50th win with the Cardinal—and junior Maya Harvey succeeded 21-12, 21-7 in the second slot. In their first collegiate match, freshmen Ashley Vincent and Kelly Belardi were also victorious, defeating Stephen F. Austin 21-14, 21-12 as the fourth pair. Sophie Kubiak, also a freshman, collected her first college victory alongside junior Emmy Sharp, beating the Lumberjacks 21-18, 21-16, as fifth-year Charlie Ekstrom and junior Kate Reilly brought in another win for the Cardinal, 21-12, 21-17. This also marked Ekstrom’s 60th career victory, tying her for the second highest number of wins of any beach volleyball athlete in Cardinal history.
Stanford then secured a 3-2 victory over Hawaii. Ekstrom and Reilly triumphed 22-20 in a tight first set, followed by a 21-12 win in the second. Vincent and Belardi continued to shine, defeating Hawaii 21-19, 21-14. The third pairing of sophomores Emma Morris and Taylor Wilson came out on top after a three-set battle, winning 21-14, 16-21, 15-12.
Stanford began the second day with a tight 3-2 loss to UCLA, the tournament favorites. Vincent and Belardi impressed with a 21-16, 21-12 win on court four, but it was not enough to secure the victory as UCLA won matches on courts one, three and five. However, Kriz and Harvey managed to post a strong performance on court two, returning from a one set deficit to beat the top-ranked team.
Stanford responded well to this narrow defeat in their next matchup against Saint Mary’s, as they dominated the Gaels 4-1. Vincent and Belardi continued their unbeaten streak winning 21-2, 21-13 while Kubiak and Sharp also won in straight sets on court five, 21-10, 21-10. The efforts of Ekstrom and Reilly on court three ended the dual on a high note as the Cardinal concluded day two with a 3-1 record in round robin play.
Saturday afternoon saw a Stanford-Hawaii rematch in the semifinals in which the Cardinal knocked out the home team, 3-2. Wilson and freshman Line Andersson on court three were forced to three sets, but managed to close it out 15-21, 21-18, 15-9. Similarly, on court five, Kubiak with her new partner, freshman Phoenix Clarke, came back from a 18-21 loss in the first set to win the next two 21-14, 15-12 and clinch a place in the championship game. Stanford would face the Bruins once again.
Unfortunately, the Cardinal were unable to avenge their earlier loss to UCLA as the Bruins claimed the final match 4-1. UCLA swept the Cardinal on every court besides court four, where Vincent and Belardi firmly held their ground, extending their win streak to six, 21-18, 21-16. While Stanford had to settle for second place, Ekstrom was celebrated with the tournament’s award for best blocker.
The Cardinal resumes their season with home duals against Portland (0-0, 0-0 WCC) and Saint Mary’s at the Beach Volleyball Stadium on March 1 at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
A previous version of this article stated that Charlie Ekstrom’s 60th career win was against Hawaii, when it actually occurred during the Cardinal’s earlier victory over Stephen F. Austin. The Daily regrets this error.