The No. 1 ranked Stanford women’s volleyball team returns from a two-game road trip through Oregon on a high note, with decisive victories over both Oregon State and Oregon.
The Card extended its win streak to an unprecedented 20 consecutive games and asserted its position as the leader in women’s volleyball on. This is the largest winning streak the team has experienced since the 1999 season and the longest streak since head coach John Dunning took over the program’s reins in 2001.
Freshman Brittany Howard led the Cardinal with her fifth double-double of the season, finishing with 14 kills and 13 digs. Junior middle blocker Carly Wopat added 12 kills on 17 attempts with no errors for a career-high .706 hitting percentage, one of the highest percentages in program history. Junior Rachel Williams totaled eight kills, seven digs and three blocks for the Cardinal, while freshman Jordan Burgess logged nine kills and 10 digs.
Splitting time as setters, senior Karissa Cook and freshman Madi Bugg had 21 and 18 assists, respectively. Sophomore libero Kyle Gilbert finished the game with 20 digs, her ninth game of the season in which she reached the 20 dig mark—Stanford ended the game out-hitting OSU .261 to .151.
The beginning of the first set remained close until Stanford went on a 5-1 run and took the set 25-18.
OSU did not give up in the second set, however, and the Cardinal barely escaped with a 32-30 win that took extra points to be decided in the second set. Stanford jumped out to an early lead, but OSU tied it at 21-21. From there, OSU and Stanford would trade off points until Stanford came out on top.
The third set would prove to be a much easier time for the Card as the outmatched Beavers weren’t able to keep their momentum going. The Card won 25-14 and managed to hold the OSU offense to just .050.
With Oregon State having won only three games in conference play, however, the decisive win was not unexpected. The bigger win of the weekend came Sunday in Eugene against the No. 2 Oregon Ducks (20-3, 11-3).
After beating Oregon in a grueling five-set match in the first half of the season, the Card expected to have another tough matchup this time around. Last week coach Dunning stressed the importance this game could have in putting his team “in the driver’s seat” in regards to the postseason.
After Sunday’s win, Dunning’s team certainly has put themselves in a good position.
Despite playing without freshman starter Jordan Burgess, who left the Oregon State match with a leg injury, the Cardinal put on one of its best offensive displays of the year, outhitting Oregon .344 to .188. Juniors Rachel Williams and Carly Wopat led the team with 10 kills each. Wopat also posted a team-high nine blocks in the match. Freshman outside hitter Brittany Howard added eight kills and four blocks, while freshman Inky Ajanaku had five kills and sophomore Lydia Bai finished with four kills.
Stanford came out on fire, and from its first possession controlled the pace of the game. They captured the opening set 25-20 and posted a .567 attack percentage, putting down 17 kills on 30 swings with no errors. Oregon also hit well offensively, recording a .371 hitting percentage.
The second set wasn’t nearly as easy as the Card pulled off a 25-22 win to take a 2-0 lead in the match. Stanford jumped out to an early lead, but Oregon capitalized on some Cardinal mistakes to tie late in the set at 21-21. A 4-1 run by Stanford held off a late comeback by the Ducks. Stanford recorded a .321 hitting percentage, while holding Oregon to just .150.
Despite only hitting .156 in the third set, Stanford completed the sweep and came from behind to grab a 25-21 victory. The Card’s defense was what did Oregon in as the Ducks were held to a .071 attack percentage. Wopat was instrumental in this defense, collecting four blocks in the set out of team total of five and a half blocks.
The Card will continue Pac-12 play this week at home against Washington State on Wednesday and Washington on Thursday, the matchup against the Huskies figuring to be one of the final tests of conference play.