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Weekend preview: Women’s volleyball hosts Stanford Invitational, as women’s soccer and field hockey ready for ranked home matchups

After falling in three sets in an exhibition match against Chinese club team Jiangsu on Wednesday, the No. 8 Cardinal women’s volleyball team will host the Stanford Invitational this weekend, starting with Bay-Area rival Santa Clara tonight at 7 p.m. It will then square off against Loyola at 10 a.m. Saturday and Pacific at 6 p.m. the same night.

Stanford (3-2) has swept the Invitational each of the last two seasons, a result that it will be expected to duplicate despite tough losses to No. 8 Hawaii and No. 4 Penn State early in the season. Talented freshman hitter Jordan Burgess is leading the team with 50 kills to this point.

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The No. 5 Stanford women’s soccer team will be hosting a tournament of its own this weekend, the 18th annual Stanford Nike Invitational. The Cardinal (2-1-1) plays Boston (3-2-1) at 7 p.m. tonight before meeting No. 23 Georgetown (6-0) at noon on Sunday, with both games televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

The squad is hoping to bounce back from two straight winless matches, an unheard-of dry spell for a group that had no losses and just one tie last year. After the top-ranked Cardinal was upset by unranked West Virginia 1-0, it failed to win at Cagan Stadium for the first time in four years with a 1-1 draw against No. 7 Boston College.

Junior goalkeeper Emily Oliver, out for the first four games with an injury, is not expected to start, but redshirt junior Aly Gleason has posted a goals-against-average of just 1.18. That doesn’t compare with Oliver’s heroic career mark of 0.27, but Stanford’s real problems are on offense: It averaged 4.8 goals per game over its first five contests in 2011, but just 2.5 over the same span this season.

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Cardinal men’s soccer (1-2-0) has gone through a rough patch of its own, losing twice in a row to Charleston and No. 22 Furman after starting the season with a win. Its toughest test so far this season is tonight’s 7-p.m. road match with No. 11 UC-Irvine (3-0), a team that has never beaten Stanford in its seven previous meetings with the Cardinal.

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The No. 16 Stanford field hockey team can prove itself against two more ranked opponents this weekend. The Cardinal (3-3), which has already beaten No. 20 Northwestern and taken No. 1 Maryland to double-overtime, will ride a two-game winning streak into today’s home tilt with No. 10 Iowa at 2:30 p.m., followed by a 2-p.m. showdown with No. 18 Drexel on Sunday.

Four Stanford players have three goals each, but the true revelation for the squad this season has been true freshman goalie Dulcie Davies, who has started every game and allowed just 10 goals so far.

—Joseph Beyda

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