No. 3 women’s volleyball (15-2, 8-0 Pac-12) continued its outstanding season with a 3-0 win against USC (11-7, 5-3 Pac-12) on Friday evening and a 3-1 win against UCLA (10-8, 2-6, Pac-12) on Sunday afternoon. The Cardinal improved to 8-0 in the Pac-12 following this weekend’s victories.
The Friday game started close, with both USC and Stanford matching each other point for point. The first set was knotted up at 5-5 after the first 10 points.
But Stanford began to pull away and ended the set with a 25-22 win after a kill by sophomore outside hitter Elia Rubin and a service ace from fifth-year opposite Kendall Kipp.
Set two started strong, with the Cardinal hitting 10 straight points and concluding with an 11-point set victory. A block from Rubin and junior middle blocker Sami Francis ended the set at 25-14, and put Stanford in a commanding 2-0 lead.
The Cardinal and Trojans held strong for set three, with seven ties occurring at the beginning of the set. Yet Stanford held USC to a .000 hitting percentage and played an incredible offensive game, hitting .562. Thanks to this overall effort, the Cardinal were able to get out to a big lead toward the middle of the set. With a kill from redshirt senior outside hitter Caitie Baird and an attack error from USC, the Cardinal won set three with another 11-point lead. The 25-14 victory ended the Friday game with a 3-0 sweep for the Stanford women’s volleyball team.
Stanford returned to Maples Pavilion to face UCLA on Sunday for its Pink Match in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
“UCLA came ready. They came to play,” said women’s volleyball coach Kevin Hambly. “Going into it, we knew they were big, we knew they were physical.”
Featuring kills from both teams, the game saw multiple ties throughout the first set. Despite getting out to an early 17-12 lead, things changed for the Cardinal when UCLA submitted a challenge for a net violation. This turned the point to UCLA and shrunk Stanford’s lead to 16-13. Later UCLA strung together a 4-point run to tie the game at 18 apiece. At the next point, Stanford’s Caitie Baird shut down UCLA’s 4-0 run with a kill, ending the long rally with a point for Stanford to put the score at 19-18. Despite getting three kills from Rubin and one from junior settler Kami Miner, the set ended with a tight 25-27 win for UCLA.
Set two once more saw the offensive prowess of both UCLA and Stanford. For the Cardinal, the set featured multiple kills from redshirt senior middle blocker McKenna Vicini, Baird, Kipp and Rubin, as well as three service aces.
At 22-17, Stanford challenged UCLA’s point for the ball being out of bounds, but the call was confirmed and the game continued at 22-17. Following three kills from Baird, the Cardinals faced the Bruins at 24-20, and later, a final kill by Baird closed the tight set with a victory for Stanford at 25-23.
The third set saw a shift in the team.
“We came out with energy that felt a little bit off and we weren’t playing quite our game,” Kipp said. “But I think we did a really good job just reassessing and turning it around.”
Starting strong with a kill from Kipp, the two teams battled it out on the court, only for the Cardinal to pull away after three kills from Kipp and one each from Rubin and Francis. Seeing two service aces from Stanford and five attack errors from UCLA, Stanford’s 16-12 lead was solidified with another kill from Kipp. The Cardinal began to push their lead with a string of kills from Miner, Francis and Baird, settling the score at 21-15. And with another service ace and kill, the team stood one point away from a victory at 24-18. UCLA put up a fight for the final point, hitting one kill, but with one last kill from Kipp, the Cardinal closed the set with a 25-20 success.
Set four saw an even stronger tone from Stanford, as the Cardinal dominated with a .609 PCT. Beginning with Baird’s 3-0 run for the team, the Cardinal quickly pushed ahead to 12-4 with kills from Kipp, Rubin, Baird and Francis. Though UCLA retaliated with kills to push the score to 14-7, Stanford kept its offensive tone with a 10-0 run to a 24-8 lead. Following a quick coaches challenge from UCLA on the last play, a final kill from Kipp ended set four with a 25-10 victory for the Cardinal.
The Stanford UCLA game saw Baird’s first double-double of the season with her match-high of 17 kills and 11 digs. Kipp and Rubin both finished with 16 kills each, Kipp with an additional nine digs, four blocks and two aces, and Rubin adding another 14 digs and three blocks. Francis marked six kills, four blocks and a dig, and Vicini added a triumphant .400 with four kills and five blocks. Senior Iibero Elena Oglivie saw a match-high of 19 digs, two aces and two assists. Miner, who leads the nation in assists per set, played strong with 52 assists, seven digs, four kills and two blocks.
“They make my job easy,” Miner said. “I have the best hitters and they’re always great at giving me feedback. That communication is really important for me and getting in rhythm with everybody.”
The importance of teamwork is visible: Hambly, Kipp and Miner all recognized the importance of the team’s strong communication and coordination in the victory against UCLA.
The Stanford women’s volleyball team continues its season in the Beaver State. Stanford plays Oregon State on Friday and the University of Oregon on Sunday.