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Beach volleyball drops final two regular season games

Freshman Tori Ashkinos (above) joined forces in the No. 1 position with freshman Charlie Ekstrom and recorded Stanford’s sole win against Cal Poly on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinal suffered a 1-4 defeat to the Mustangs. (AL CHANG/isiphotos.com)

In the final two regular season games, No. 20 Stanford beach volleyball suffered back-to-back defeats to No. 7 Cal Poly and rival No. 11 California at home.

The Cardinal (10-16, 3-2 Pac-12) began play on Saturday afternoon with their first meeting of the season against Cal Poly (21-10, 5-1 Big West), a team that entered the game with a 2-2 record over the last four games — all of which were against ranked opponents.

Freshmen Tori Ashkinos and Charlie Ekstrom recorded the only win for the Cardinal at the No. 1 position, defeating Cal Poly’s Tiadora Miric and Crissy Jones, a veteran graduate student who was a three-time All-Pac 12 selection during her undergraduate career at Washington.

Despite the three-set victory from the freshman pair, Stanford dropped the remaining four matches to concede a 1-4 loss to the Mustangs. The No. 5 pairing of juniors Chelsea Red-Horse Mohl and Shannon Richardson forced a third set, but ultimately came up short 15-8 to Cal Poly’s Brayden Gruenewald and Vanessa Roscoe.

The loss to Cal Poly marked the team’s fifth loss over the last seven games, which included defeats to No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 USC.

The Cardinal women returned to the Beach Volleyball Stadium a few hours later to face rival Cal (19-7, 6-1 Pac-12), a team that was riding a two-game losing streak heading into Saturday’s festivities.

Before facing the Cardinal, Cal picked up a 3-2 victory over Cal Poly. Momentum continued for the Golden Bears as they defeated Stanford 5-0 to close the regular season for both teams.

At the No. 1 position, Askinos and Ekstrom put up the closest dual of the day. The two freshmen forced a third set, but lost in 15-8 decision. The No. 3 and No. 4 pairings for the Cardinal also forced a three-set match before falling to the Golden Bears.

Before play began against Cal, Stanford honored the team’s sole senior, Courtney Bowen, in a Senior Day Ceremony. Bowen ranks as Stanford’s highest all-time wins leader with 49 to her name, despite missing the last month and a half to an injury.

With the regular season behind them, the Stanford women will head to the Pac-12 Championships April 25-27 at UCLA’s Merle Norman Stadium, home of the reigning conference champions.

Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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