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Beach volleyball stuffed in Pac-12 North Invitational

Stanford wins one of four, falling short to ranked opponents

Junior Morgan Hentz (above) helped Stanford secure a victory over Washington on Saturday to start off the Pac-12 North Beach Volleyball Invitational. She competes in the No. 2 pair with sophomore Sunny Villapando. (GLEN MITCHELL/isiphotos.com)

After a strong 3-2 win against Washington (6-8, 1-3 Pac-12) on Saturday afternoon at the Pac-12 North Beach Volleyball Invitational, No. 19 Stanford (9-13, 3-1 Pac-12) lost to conference foes No. 2 USC (20-4, 0-0 Pac-12), No. 1 (26-1, 1-0 Pac-12) UCLA and No. 12 UC Berkeley (16-5, 5-1 Pac-12) on the Cardinal’s home court.

Stanford began its weekend with a matchup against the Huskies. The No. 2 pair composed of junior Morgan Hentz and sophomore Sunny Villapando put the first point on the board for the Cardinal. However, an hour later, the Cardinal women found themselves at a tied score with No. 3 pair freshman Maddie Dailey and sophomore Amelia Smith serving for the win. Although the Huskies sought their first ranked win of the season, the Cardinal clinched the game 3-2.

Later in the day, the women returned to the Stanford Beach Volleyball Stadium to lock horns with USC, and the Trojans won 4-1. The victory moved the Women of Troy to 2-0 on the day following a 5-0 sweep over California earlier in the day. USC claimed the first dual point of the day against Stanford when Abril Bustamante and Tina Graudina defeated No. 1 pair freshman Tori Ashkinos and freshman Charlie Ekstrom 21-16, 21-15.

The Cardinal fired back, however, to even the score. No. 2 pair Hentz and Villapando upended USC’s Terese Cannon and Sammy Slater, 21-19, 21-13. The No. 2 duo is now 8-1 overall and Hentz ranks second, just behind teammate senior Courtney Bowen, as Stanford’s all-time individual wins leader, with 45. With a chance for a major upset against the nation’s No. 2 team, hopes were for the Cardinal, but short lived. USC moved ahead with three straight victories, while Stanford was unable to bounce back.

After a split Saturday, the Cardinal tried to up their game against UCLA on Sunday afternoon. Stanford, however, was no match for the Bruins, as the latter racked up a 4-1 win. Stanford’s sole victory came from a hard fought three set win at the No. 4 pair, featuring the Cardinal duo of sophomore Blake Sharp and junior Shannon Richardson.

Stanford returned to its home court for its last match of the weekend against its rival, the California Golden Bears. With a neat three-set win at the No. 2 pair of Hentz and Villapando, the Cardinal seemed to be getting back to winning ways. However, the Golden Bears had different plans for the host as they notched three consecutive wins. Stanford’s  No. 4 pair of Richardson and Sharp defeated Mia Merino and Abby Waldburger to tighten the score, but it was too little, too late, and the Cardinal fell 3-2 — extending its losing streak to three.
 
Up next, Stanford travels to Moraga, California on Thursday to take on No. 18 Saint Mary’s.

Contact Amita Gondi at agondi ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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