By James Hemker
No. 13 beach volleyball (2-5, 2-0 Pac-12) opens its first home stand of the year with a full weekend. Stanford will compete against UC Davis (2-0, 0-0 Big West) and No. 11 Cal (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) on Saturday, while Sunday will feature a rematch against No. 20 Saint Mary’s (2-3, 0-0 WCC) and the first meeting with San Jose State (4-3, 0-0 MPSF).
The Cardinal come into the weekend with momentum from two strong conference wins over Oregon and No. 14 Arizona.
“We were stoked with how the team prepped for and stayed resilient against a quality Arizona team,” said head coach Andrew Fuller. “Last week’s successes came from a constant focusing and refocusing with each point. We know we have been working on good stuff, and it is going to score a lot of points for us if we have faith.”
UC Davis is in the first year of its program, so Saturday will be the inaugural meeting between these two schools. The Golden Bears and the Cardinal play twice each year, and for the past two seasons, the matches have been split. Cal was able to defeat Stanford at the Big Spike last year in a close 2-3 duel.
Saint Mary’s made a big opening statement to its season this year by sweeping Stanford 0-5 in the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Beach Classic in Hawai’i two weeks ago. Expect the Cardinal to be looking for revenge.
The weekend ends with the Spartans, who have lost to Stanford for the past two years. Last year’s meeting saw the Cardinal mount an exceptional comeback after falling early, 0-2. Three consecutive wins handed Stanford the duel.
Within the squad, two flights have shown the most promise. The flight two pair of senior Courtney Bowen and freshman Tori Ashkinos is the only pairing on the team with a positive record (4-3) through all seven matches. Last week, in flight three, junior Morgan Hentz and sophomore Amelia Smith were paired to great effect, going 2-1 on the weekend.
While the rest of the pairs haven’t quite found their rhythm, Fuller is confident they will all start finding success.
“We really believe that wins can come from any variety of combinations and that every single one of our teams is capable of contributing to a win,” he said. “We don’t put any more or less pressure on any pair based on what we think they can do.”
Catch the Cardinal against UC Davis on Saturday at 11 a.m. PST, the Golden Bears at 2 p.m. PST, Saint Mary’s on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PST and the Spartans at 3 p.m. PST. All duels will be held at the Stanford Sand Volleyball Stadium.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.