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W. Volleyball: Cardinal suffer narrow setbacks against SoCal foes

The No. 2 Stanford women’s volleyball team suffered two disappointing back-to-back losses in Los Angeles this past weekend, falling to No. 7 UCLA on Friday and No. 12 USC on Saturday.

Looking to avenge last year’s loss at UCLA–which snapped the 2010 Stanford squad’s 14-game winning streak and dropped it out of the No. 1 ranking–the Card (8-3, 2-3 Pac-12) squared off against the Bruins (11-2, 3-2) on Friday evening. After falling down two sets to none, Stanford fought its way back to force a fifth game, but ultimately came up short, 18-25, 18-25, 25-23, 29-27, 9-15.

Stanford middle blocker Carly Wopat in action (Stanford Daily File Photo)

Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Williams and freshman outside hitter Morgan Boukather were the Card’s kill leaders, putting down 13 balls apiece, while Williams also added 17 digs for a double-double. Sophomore middle blocker Carly Wopat contributed 12 kills on .417 hitting and junior setter Karissa Cook picked up a double-double with 49 assists and 13 digs. Freshman defensive specialist Kyle Gilbert led the match with 22 digs, taking over the libero position for games three through five.

UCLA outside hitter Rachael Kidder was unstoppable, as the junior put down a career-high 30 kills against the Cardinal. Senior setter Lauren Van Orden and sophomore outside hitter Kelly Reeves each picked up double-doubles, Van Orden with 61 assists and 14 digs and Reeves with 17 kills and 19 digs. Senior libero Lainey Gera led the Bruin defense with 20 digs. Though neither team was exceptional at the net, UCLA outhit the Card .220 to .154.

The following evening, the Cardinal traveled across town searching for a win against a veteran USC squad (9-3, 4-1) that ended Stanford’s season in last year’s NCAA tournament. Yet again, the bid fell just short, as Stanford dropped three straight sets, each by only two points, 25-23, 26-24 and 25-23. The loss marked the first time that the Card had been swept since an away loss to Washington in 2009.

Again, Williams proved to be the Card’s primary offensive threat as well as an asset on defense, putting down 11 kills and digging 13 balls for her seventh double-double of the season. Wopat had 10 kills and seven blocks, while redshirt freshman outside hitter Lydia Bai added seven kills. Cook had 37 assists in the loss, while Gilbert, in her first start as libero, had 18 digs.

For the Trojans, senior outside hitter Alex Jupiter had 15 kills and 11 digs, and junior outside hitter Katie Fuller had 14 kills and nine digs. Senior setter Kendall Bateman put up 41 assists in addition to nine digs, and sophomore libero Natalie Hagglund led the match with 23 digs as USC came up with big plays all match long.

Stanford will look to rebound as it plays host to Arizona State on Friday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. in Maples Pavilion.