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W. Volleyball: Card rallies to beat Beavers, Ducks

After losing three in a row away from Maples Pavilion, the No. 7 Stanford women’s volleyball team picked up its first two road conference wins of the season against Oregon State (11-7, 3-5 Pac-12) and No. 16 Oregon (12-4, 5-3) this past weekend. The Cardinal (12-3, 6-3) improved to fifth in a Pac-12 race that boasts five top-10 teams nationally and no undefeated squads.

Redshirt freshman outside hitter Lydia Bai had kills in crucial moments for Stanford, including the final two points of the win over Oregon. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

The road trip opened shakily, with Stanford dropping its first set of the weekend to a young and unranked Oregon State team. Up 22-18, the Cardinal failed to close out the game, with errors from sophomore outside hitter Rachel Williams and redshirt junior middle blocker Jessica Walker allowing the Beavers to make a seven-point run for the 25-22 set victory.

With momentum on the home team’s side, Oregon State stayed close with the Card throughout the second game. Leading 22-20, Stanford again let the Beavers back into the game, with a kill from freshman outside hitter/middle blocker Arica Nassar fueling Oregon State to a 23-23 tie. The Cardinal called a timeout and came back on the floor to win back-to-back points—a kill by redshirt freshman outside hitter Lydia Bai followed by a block by Walker and junior setter Karissa Cook—and the set, 25-23.

The next two games proved less dramatic, with Stanford winning sets three and four, 25-17 and 25-16, respectively. After a Cook kill tied the third set 10-10, a string of six consecutive plays from Williams—four kills, a shared block with Walker and a solo block—helped the Card pull away from the Beavers. Stanford never trailed in the fourth set.

Williams tallied 22 kills and 18 digs, while Cook put up 47 assists and 14 digs. This was the ninth double-double of the season for each, best in the Pac-12. It was a big night for Stanford’s defensive specialists, with sophomore Mary Ellen Luck registering a career-high four aces and matching her previous best 11 digs, while junior DS Hannah Benjamin tied her career best with 19 digs.

For Oregon State, junior outside hitter Camille Saxton tied her career best with 22 kills in addition to 12 digs, five blocks and two aces. Sophomore libero Becky Defoe led the match with 27 digs, and junior setter Megan McBride notched 42 assists and 11 digs.

The following evening, Stanford traveled to Eugene to take on then-No. 15 Oregon. Like the night before, the Cardinal dropped a 25-22 first set decision before rallying to overtake the Ducks on their home court in three consecutive sets.

The Cardinal trailed for the bulk of the first set, retying the score at 16-16 for the last time in the game. Oregon would answer with a four-point run—three of which came off Stanford hitting errors—before junior outside hitter Alaina Bergsma closed out the victory with two final kills for the Ducks.

The second set remained even through its halfway mark until a kill by Wopat and an Oregon hitting error gave the Card a two-point cushion at 15-13, which soon became a five-point cushion at 21-16. Back-to-back Bergsma kills kept the Ducks’ hopes alive, but another Wopat kill, an ace and a kill from freshman outside hitter Morgan Boukather sealed the victory at 25-20.

Set three would mirror set two, with the Card pulling away from the Ducks several points at a time after being tied at 14-14. Though two Bergsma kills and another from sophomore middle blocker Ariana Williams kept Oregon in the game at match point, a Stanford timeout followed by a missed serve from the Ducks gave the Card a 25-20 set three win.

The fourth set was the closest of the evening, with seven lead changes and 14 tied scores. Stanford would fight to win the set and match 25-23 with Bai killing the final two balls for the Card.

Three Stanford players had kill totals in the double digits, with Wopat and Williams putting down 15 apiece—Wopat with a phenomenal .520 hitting percentage—and Bai contributing another 10. Cook tallied yet another double-double with 45 assists and 15 digs, while freshman libero Kyle Gilbert led the team with 17 digs.

Bergsma shined for the Ducks with a match-high 26 kills, while junior outside hitter Katherine Fischer added 10. Sophomore setter Lauren Plum registered 47 assists and 17 digs, and junior libero Haley Jacob picked up 20 digs.

This weekend, Stanford returns home to take on Washington State and No. 3 Washington. The Cardinal will face the Cougars on Friday at 7 p.m. in Maples Pavilion.

 

About Caroline Caselli