Stanford women’s volleyball is coming off another successful weekend, with two significant victories on the road against then-No. 2 Oregon and Oregon State. And with a unanimous No. 1 ranking in hand, Stanford (22-2, 14 -0 Pac-12) seems to keep fortifying its dominance within the Pac-12 and national scene week by week.
The Cardinal shut out both the Ducks and Beavers this past weekend, increasing its winning streak to 20 games. It’s the longest winning streak for Stanford since the 1999 season, and also head coach John Dunning’s longest winning streak since he took over on the Farm.
This weekend widened the gap in Pac-12 standings between the Cardinal, which is still undefeated in conference play, and 2nd-place Oregon; the gap currently sits at three games. But with the frenetic pace of conference play, Stanford will put its standing and win streak on the line just two days after returning from its swing through the Pacific Northwest.
The Cardinal will face off against Washington (19-4, 10-4) and Washington State (12-14, 2-12), in the final matchups this season with the Washington schools. Stanford will play Washington State Wednesday, Nov. 7, and No. 5 Washington Thursday, Nov. 8.
Stanford is looking stay undefeated at Maples and make crucial steps toward a perfect season in the Pac-12. Stanford can use its strong performance in Oregon as momentum in its game against WSU on Wednesday. Junior middle blocker Carly Wopat led the Cardinal in its 3-0 victory against Oregon State, with a .706 hitting percentage thanks to 12 kills and zero hitting errors. She continued her near-perfect hitting performance against Oregon, where she hit .692, earning her Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.
She must continue her solid hitting performance against Washington State, which she did during the teams’ meeting earlier this season. The Cougars are coming off their first Pac-12 weekend sweep and first Pac-12 victories this season, with two victories over Colorado and Utah.
Ver’Leea Hardaway led the Cougars in their win against Colorado with 15 kills and zero attacking errors. Libero Kate Sommer also contributed significantly with 19 digs. Washington State had only eight attacking errors in their game against Colorado, so the Cardinal will look to control the game and force Washington State into riskier attacks.
Regardless of Washington State’s weekend sweep, Stanford will be a heavy favorite at home.
The matchup with No. 5 Washington, however, will most likely be a harder task for Stanford. Both teams are coming off exhausting schedules—the Cardinal and Huskies will end this week having played three games in a span of five days, with two games back to back.
When the two played each other at Washington last month, Wopat once again had a big game with 15 kills, and sophomore libero Kyle Gilbert had a tremendous performance with 25 digs. While Washington proved to be a tough opponent, the Cardinal came out on top in five games.
Stanford will need to depend on Wopat for consistency and her strong hitting and blocking power. Freshman outside hitter and Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Brittany Howard has been improving every game, and needs to continue her strong offensive performance against Washington.
The ankle injury to fellow freshman outside hitter Jordan Burgess—suffered in the Oregon State match—is troubling, however. If Burgess is unable to play, expect to see a lot more of junior Rachel Williams, who had 10 kills in the win over Oregon.
Washington, on the other hand, will be coming off a shakier weekend. The Huskies found themselves down 0-2 against Utah, which sits in the middle of the Pac-12 standings. While Washington was able to come back and win the match in a fifth set, it will be harder to come from behind against Stanford.
The Huskies will need a strong performance from sophomore Krista Vansant, who had a career-high eight blocks and 17 digs against Utah. She represents one of the tougher tests Stanford will face against Washington’s strong blocking power—the Huskies had 19 blocks against the Utes.
With the Cardinal holding the momentum, and with its undefeated Pac-12 and home record on the line, Stanford sits in prime position to push on toward the postseason and a national seed in the NCAA tournament. With just four more conference games to play after this week, a potential perfect Pac-12 record and conference crown is also seeming more and more possible.