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W. Volleyball: Trying to get back on track

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After stumbling with back-to-back losses in Southern California last weekend, the No. 6 Stanford women’s volleyball team returns home to Maples Pavilion hoping for a pair of redemption wins against the Arizona schools. The Cardinal (8-3, 2-3 Pac-12) looks to break .500 in league play and move up from eighth place in the conference standings.

Junior Hannah Benjamin (above) and the Stanford women's volleyball team have dropped back-to-back matches, and welcome the Arizona schools to Maples this weekend. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

On Friday night, Stanford will host Arizona State, one of only two teams–Colorado being the other–that remains winless in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils (4-9, 0-4) are currently riding a six-match losing streak and were swept by visiting Washington last Sunday after falling in a five-game match against Washington State two days prior.

On paper, Stanford outshines Arizona State all over the court, with the Sun Devils ranking in the bottom half of the conference in every statistical category, including dead last in hitting percentage at .169. Its greatest strength thus far has been blocking, ranking seventh in the conference with an average of 2.32 blocks per set, led by junior middle blocker Erica Wilson and freshman outside hitter Nora Tuioti-Mariner with 46 overall blocks apiece thus far.

Redshirt sophomore Ashley Kastl leads the offense in kills, with 160 this season (an average of 3.33 per set), while sophomore setter Sarah McGaffin ranks seventh in the conference with 10.31 assists per set. In comparison, Stanford’s offensive leader, sophomore outside hitter Rachel Williams, ranks second in the conference with 192 total kills, or 4.68 kills per set, while junior setter Karissa Cook is fourth in the Pac-12 with 11.02 assists per set.

The following night, Stanford will have a slightly tougher test against the Arizona Wildcats (10-3, 2-2), who will travel to Maples Pavilion after facing No. 4 Cal on Friday. Currently standing right above Stanford at seventh in the Pac-12 with a .500 record, the Wildcats split both of their opening conference series, picking up victories against Oregon State and Washington State and falling to Oregon and Washington.

Arizona and Stanford’s front lines are closely matched, with the teams ranked fifth and sixth respectively in hitting percentage and kills–the Wildcats are hitting .241 and 13.41 kills per set while the Cardinal is tallying .224 hitting and 13.29 kills per set. The Stanford defense holds the advantage, leading the conference with 17.71 digs per set, while Arizona is sixth with 14.84.

Senior middle blocker Cursty Jackson and freshman outside hitter Madi Kingdon are the Wildcats’ strongest offensive threats, with Jackson ranking sixth in the conference with her .363 hitting percentage and tenth in blocking, while Kingdon currently ranks eighth in kills, with 3.82 per set.

History does not bode well for either the Sun Devils’ or the Wildcats’ chances. Stanford holds a 58-4 advantage in the series with Arizona State, last falling to the Sun Devils over a decade ago, and a 56-6 overall record against Arizona.

The Card will take on Arizona State on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. in Maples Pavilion.

 

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