No. 11 Stanford women’s volleyball completed a Bay Area sweep on its first real road trip of the season, handily taking down Saint Mary’s and Pacific in three sets each over the weekend and toppling Cal 3-1 on Tuesday night.
The Cardinal have looked strong this year, finishing out their non-conference slate with a record of 6-2 and taking their first conference match. The team set a season-high hitting percentage against Saint Mary’s (.333) but promptly broke its own record, hitting .355 against Pacific.
Stanford dominated Saint Mary’s in every statistical category on Friday, as the Gaels were plagued by inconsistent play leading to a total of 23 errors in the match. As a result, their hitting percentage dropped to just .072 as a team on the day.
The Cardinal freshmen came in strong once again, as opposite Kathryn Plummer paced the squad with 10 kills and a career-high .556 attack percentage, and middle blocker Audriana Fitzmorris tacked on an additional 8 kills, along with 6 blocks and a service ace. The tide of the match was firmly in the Cardinal’s favor, and they finished with a resounding 25-19, 25-17, 25-12 sweep.
On Saturday, Stanford took another short road trip across the bay to face off with the Pacific Tigers. Despite being outhit by the Cardinal .179 to .355, the Tigers kept the match surprisingly close, relying on defense and some clutch runs.
After Stanford jumped out to a quick lead in the first set, Pacific pushed back, tying the score at 13. The teams traded blows for several points before the Cardinal took an 8-4 lead, defeating the Tigers 25-21. The second and third sets were less closely contested, as Stanford maintained its lead throughout. Pacific used an 8-2 run to tie the score at 22 in the second, but a kill from fifth-year senior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku brought the momentum back in Stanford’s favor, and the Cardinal took the third set and the match for a final line of 25-21, 25-22, 25-17.
It was a team effort on the attack for the Cardinal, as six players registered 6 or more digs apiece. Senior outside hitter Ivana Vanjak led the team with 10 kills and a .474 hitting percentage. Michaela Keefe, Ajanaku and Merete Lutz each contributed 8 kills to the cause as Keefe set a career high in kills and digs (13).
Plummer had another 7 kills against Pacific, and her play this week led her to be named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week, her first such honor. She did not record an error across either game this weekend, averaging .500 hitting.
After dropping a close first set to Cal on Tuesday, Stanford fought back, taking the next three sets to win the match 23-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-13. Plummer put up another fantastic performance, recording a career-high 16 kills and leading the team with a .538 hitting percentage. Stanford has won its last nine consecutive matchups against the Golden Bears.
A hard-fought third set decided the momentum of the match as Stanford triumphed despite five tie scores, including when an attack error from Lutz allowed the Golden Bears to tie it up at 23 apiece. A block from Ajanaku was just what the Cardinal needed, bringing them to a 26-24 win.
Stanford held its momentum into the fourth, opening the set on an 8-2 tear. Cal called a timeout, but the Bears failed to turn the tide as the Cardinal came out of the break even stronger, taking six of the next seven points and forcing California to use its second timeout. Although the Bears pushed back, they could not overcome the Cardinal, who took the set and the match with a 25-13 win. Stanford hit an impressive .652 in the fourth set, while holding Cal to a .111 clip.
Up next, the Cardinal will head north to take on Oregon State on Friday. Oregon State currently owns a three-match win streak, but the Beavers will face tough competition as they take on No. 24 Oregon on Thursday before flying to the Farm.
Last season, the Cardinal swept the Beavers in three sets both times the teams faced one another. In fact, Stanford has never lost a match to Oregon State in 63 matchups, and this year’s meeting should be no different. Friday’s match will be available on Pac-12 Bay Area with first serve at 7 p.m.
Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.