By Zach Zafran
No. 18 Stanford women’s volleyball (11-5, 6-2 Pac-12) took care of business against Colorado (12-5, 3-5 Pac-12) on Sunday afternoon, sweeping the Buffaloes in three sets. After losing the first point of the match, Stanford never trailed again.
An all-around performance from Stanford propelled its offense to a staggering 52 kills on a .345 hitting percentage. In comparison, Colorado recorded just 26 kills and hit .149 for the match.
Four Cardinal players recorded nine or more kills, which head coach Kevin Hambly attributed to the team’s passing abilities.
“We passed really well, and then that put us in a situation where [we could] use the whole breadth of our offense,” Hambly said. “We were able to use all the weapons we have … we’re lucky we have a lot. Everyone on our team can score.”
From the get-go, the Cardinal’s well-rounded attack put them in the driver’s seat and prevented Colorado from gaining momentum.
After starting the first set down 1-0, the Cardinal went on a 10-2 run, anchored by redshirt sophomore outside hitter Caitie Baird and junior opposite Kendall Kipp. They finished the set with six kills apiece, hitting at an impressive .667 and .400, respectively.
Stanford’s advantage carried over into the second set, where the Cardinal started off on a 5-0 run. However, Colorado did not go down easily. A long rally that sent players from both sides diving onto the hardwood concluded with a kill from Colorado’s sophomore outside hitter Maya Tabron. This play gave the Buffaloes their fifth point of the set and enough momentum to make Stanford uncomfortable.
The two teams fought back and forth and found themselves in a 9-9 tie midway through the second set.
But the Cardinal offense prevailed once again. A 10-3 run gave them the cushion they needed to ultimately take the set 25-16.
Through two sets, Stanford posted an impressive hitting percentage of .342 compared to Colorado’s .090.
The story of the third set was more of the same, highlighted by six service aces from the Cardinal. Hambly noted that the team “put a lot of service pressure on [Colorado],” which was a major factor in the victory.
Ultimately, Stanford won the third set 25-17 to take the match in straight sets.
Stanford entered the matchup with an all-time record of 22-1 against the Buffaloes, including nine straight victories. However, with both 2020 contests canceled due to COVID-19, this was Stanford’s first time playing Colorado since 2019.
Senior middle blocker Holly Campbell remarked that such a hiatus brought some challenges to the team in Sunday’s match.
“Having not played them since 2019 and not having many people out there that have actually played against them … the first few points of the game, it took us a few seconds just to get into it,” Campbell said.
Following this win, the Cardinal will hit the road to take on No. 25 Washington State and No. 10 Washington, both of whom sit in a tie for first place in the Pac-12 alongside Stanford. First serve against the Cougars is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. PT.
Cybele Zhang contributed reporting.