By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Rachel Williams and Brittany Howard each recorded 11 kills, each with a .417 hitting percentage, to help the No. 2-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team open its home season with a 25-14, 25-11, 25-14 victory over Pacific on Wednesday night.
Palo Alto grad Kimmy Whitson had 14 assists and four digs for the Tigers (3-2).
Sophomore Madi Bugg had 36 assists and 11 digs for the Cardinal (2-0), which goes to Austin, TX for matches against No. 8 Florida on Saturday and No. 6 Texas on Sunday. The Longhorns are the defending national champions.
"We're excited to be playing Texas and Florida," Stanford senior Carly Wopat said. "We've been working hard with those matches in mind. We want to see what we can do against them. We're excited about putting ourselves to the test."
Stanford sophomore Jordan Burgess enjoys playing Florida, Stanford's next opponent. She's from Fort Myers and the Gators were the first team to recruit her.
"When I was a kid I wanted to go to Florida," she said. "It was like my dream."
She ended up at Stanford, while her twin brother Nick goes to Florida.
The siblings played a lot of volleyball together in the backyard.
Burgess was the team captain for the United States junior national team that played in the world championships in the Czech Republic over the summer. She also met future teammates Kelsey Humphreys and Merete Lutz on the team.
"When I was named team captain, I thought leadership was trying to more things," Burgess said. "I learned it's about embracing everybody else's talent and playing my best."
The experience also helped Burgess return to Stanford as a more confident person, knowing she had that much more of an edge.
"I think every experience with USA is interesting and different," she said. "It's good to get out of your comfort zone. It was a cool experience and a high level experience."
Burgess did not have a great hitting game against Pacific, though she added 10 digs and a pair of blocks.
Kyle Gilbert had a game-high 17 digs, while Wopat added five blocks. Inky Ajanaku had eight kills, five blocks and recorded a .727 hitting percentage.
The crowd of 1,570 fans included most of the football team (Ed Reynolds and Shayne Skov addressed the crowd at the intermission), the men's soccer team, the women's soccer team and a couple of baseball players.
The Pacific men's volleyball team also showed up in full force. The team is trying to drum up support to save their program. Stanford would be directly affected if the program was cut.
Grace Kennedy was the lone freshman to see any playing action and only as a server.