No. 2 ranked Stanford women’s volleyball (14-1) is now 6-0 in Pac-12 play after a weekend road sweep of fellow conference members No. 24 Utah (9-7, 1-4 Pac-12) and Colorado (10-7, 2-4). Stanford is now riding a 12-game winning streak; the team hasn’t lost a match since falling to BYU over a month ago.
If they expected a waltz through their road trip, the Cardinal were quickly reminded that they will have to play their best in every match this season in order to remain atop the Pac-12. Teams tend to play some of their best volleyball when playing against the Cardinal, out of sheer necessity.
Stanford experienced this first-hand during their first match of the weekend, when the Utes came out firing, catching the Cardinal off-balance. An aggressive Utah attack forced the Cardinal passing out of balance, drawing them into 18 total errors through the first two sets. Stanford has been plagued by hitting errors throughout the season, and Friday’s match was no different.
As a result of these errors, the first set was drawn out into a tie. Stanford nearly dropped the set, but managed to squeeze out two points in a row to win 28-26. The difference maker was the defense for Stanford, stalwart as always, led by senior middle blocker Tami Alade, who finished the game with a staggering 10 total blocks, one solo.
Utah had a tough time getting the ball to fall on the court, as Stanford finished with a season-high 74 total digs on the night. This effort was led by junior libero Morgan Hentz, who racked up 26 of them, a match high.
Utah swiped the second set of the match from under the nose of the Cardinal, sliding past the Stanford defense 25-23. After that set, the game was never as close again, as the Cardinal stepped up their overall game and resumed play after the mid-game break refreshed.
The leader for the Cardinal offensive was junior opposite hitter Audriana Fitzmorris, who dominated the Utah defense, hitting .405 on the night with a team-leading 18 kills. She also contributed to the defensive front with five blocks of her own, as well as two digs.
The Cardinal rolled through the final two sets with their usual ease, winning the match by a score of 3-1. Compared to the 18 errors through the first two sets, the Cardinal only committed eight in the final two.
Stanford’s tandem of outside hitters, sophomore Meghan McClure and junior Kathryn Plummer, attacked relentlessly throughout the night, with 90 total swings between the two of them. Plummer hit .184 with 18 kills, three blocks and 13 digs, registering a double double. McClure also picked up a double double with 15 kills on .244 hitting, 12 digs and two blocks of her own.
With the victory in Utah secured, Stanford moved on to their second match, taking on Colorado on Sunday.
The final score of 3-0 looks on paper to be one-sided, but the Buffaloes put up a significant fight, taking every set the distance against the Cardinal. The first set went to a deuce with the Cardinal coming up 27-25 before winning the next two 25-23 and 25-22.
The defense was not as on display for either team during Sunday’s contest, as both teams hit at a high clip, Stanford at .384 and Colorado at .358. Hentz still led the team with 15 digs, but the Cardinal only put up six blocks, compared to their 13 against Utah.
The Cardinal hitters were incredibly efficient, taking advantage of the Colorado front. Alade finished the game with 10 kills on a .692 hitting percentage, only missing three hits, one for an error. Plummer was the main offensive threat for the Cardinal, racking up a massive 23 kills through only three sets, hitting .400 on the night.
McClure added 11 kills and 11 digs on the night, good for her second double double of the weekend. Her performance in all areas of the game is a testament to the massive impact she has on the team as a whole.
Fresh off of two wins, the Cardinal return home this Friday to take on Washington State in Maples Pavilion. The game begins at 8 p.m. PST.
Contact Bobby Pragada at bpragada ‘at’ stanford.edu