Widgets Magazine

Women’s volleyball takes care of Trojans in three sets

On Wednesday night, No. 1 Stanford (25-0, 15-0) played against No. 21 USC (14-11, 7-8) at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, California, five days after its intensely close win over Arizona. The Cardinal secured another win against the Trojans (25-21, 25-23, 25-16), its first straight-set sweep since facing Oregon on Nov. 2, to keep its undefeated streak in the Pac-12. It was the first time that the Card beat the Trojans at the Galen Center since 2010.

(DAVID BERNAL/isiphotos.com)

Senior opposite Morgan Boukather (above) dug 11 balls and contributed 9 kills as the No. 1 Cardinal stayed undefeated with a straight-set win over the No. 21 USC Trojans. (DAVID BERNAL/isiphotos.com)

In the first set, junior setter Madi Bugg smashed the ball off of an overpass into a gap in USC’s defense to give Stanford an early lead. Sophomore middle blocker Merete Lutz scored back-to-back kills taking advantage of USC’s scattered defense. But USC came back with an ace and kills from the outside to tie up the game. A block by Lutz put Stanford back in the lead along with senior opposite Morgan Bouakther’s cross-court kill, putting the Trojan defense into greater chaos. Lutz continued to dominate the net, placing the ball in key holes in USC’s defense. The Cardinal demonstrated quick and strategic responses to the Trojans’ spontaneous offensive plays and strong service game.

Junior outside hitter Jordan Burgess made long-angled kills to put Stanford up 12-11. Attack errors from USC’s outside hitter Samantha Bricio boosted the score 15-13 with Stanford in the lead before USC called the first timeout of the game. Post-timeout, the Trojans started to come back, eventually tying up the game at 16-16 until a corner kill by middle blocker Inky Ajanaku halted its momentum. The Cardinal shaped up scoring more kills setting the score 19-16, forcing USC to call another timeout. USC once again tied the set at 20-20 before Stanford called its first timeout.

Post-timeout, Lutz and Burgess immediately scored a kill for the Cardinal putting Stanford back in the lead at 23-20. Boukather scored two more kills to win the first set.

In the second set, the Cardinal and Trojans went point for point with powerful kills from Howard and Ajanaku keeping Stanford in the game. Boukather served an ace to the corner to keep Stanford in the lead. However, tough serves from USC’s Nwanebu put Stanford behind 4-7 before the Cardinal called the first timeout of the set.

Post-timeout, Stanford discovered a way to take control of Nwanebu’s serve with Ajanaku getting the kill. Immediately, Stanford’s momentum pushed upward with Lutz and Boukather scoring kills for Stanford, putting them back in the lead 11-9 before USC called a timeout. Stanford started to struggle slightly after the timeout but reached a breakthrough when Lutz and Boukather smashed more kills for the Cardinal. The set remained extremely tight, with both teams bringing out their outside hitters – their biggest heavyweights – until Stanford was able to gain the lead at set point with a kill from Ajanaku to clinch the set for the Cardinal, bringing the match to 2-0 overall.

In the third set, USC served a couple of aces until Stanford stopped the momentum with a kill by Burgess. Lutz scored her 10th kill to put Stanford back in the set. Ajanaku scored another kill to tie up the game 3-3. Burgess’s roll shot from the backcourt worked out to tie back up the game at 4-4. The set remained tight with the outsides and middle from both teams scoring points back to back with Stanford maintaining at least a one-point lead.

Soon, Stanford experienced a nice shift in momentum, which propelled Stanford to gain a four-point lead before the Trojans called a timeout. The timeout did very little to slow down the Cardinal’s huge upward momentum, with the defense spotting the trends in the Trojans’ offense and the hitters finding the holes in Stanford’s defense. Stanford pushed 18-10 before USC called another timeout.

Stanford maintained an even greater lead until the end of the match with Boukather scoring the last kill to clinch another victory for the Cardinal. Even though the middle of the match saw the Cardinal struggle in serve-receive, the Cardinal took control of the mistakes the players were making in order to gain greater dominance on the court offensively and defensively.

Both Ajanaku and Lutz led the team with 13 kills, and Lutz led in hitting percentage with .667. Senior libero Kyle Gilbert led in digs at 21 with Bugg and Burgess at 14 digs. Bugg also recorded 37 assists and one service ace.

Stanford will play against the UCLA Bruins tonight to close out the week.

Contact Divine Edem at dedem ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

About Divine Edem

Divine Edem '18 is currently a staff writer for the sports section of the Stanford Daily. She is originally from Chino Hills, a small town in Southern California and enjoys playing volleyball, watching movies, and listening to most genres of music. She plans to major in Political Science and can be contacted at dedem@stanford.edu.