By Rick Eymer
The men's and women's tennis programs will be in action over the weekend at the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. The Stanford women hosts for the seventh straight year while the Cardinal men venture over to St. Mary's in Moraga. The tournament opens Friday.
For the women, Kristie Ahn, Taylor Davidson, Caroline Doyle, Krista Hardebeck, Amelia Herring, Lindsey Kostas, Ellen Tsay and Carol Zhao will compete in singles and/or doubles.
As a freshman last year, playing in her second collegiate tournament, Hardebeck won the ITA Northwest Regional Championships singles crown, outlasting fourth-seeded Annett Schutting of California 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4). Hardebeck completed an impressive tournament run, dropping only two sets over a five-day stretch.
In the 2012 doubles final, the Cardinal's top-seeded duo of Stacey Tan and Ellen Tsay defeated California's team of Tayler Davis and Annie Goransson 8-4. Tan and Tsay repeated as doubles champions, breezing through five matches while surrendering four games or less in each contest.
On the men's side, Menlo School grad Jamin Ball, Yale Goldberg, Daniel Ho, John Morrissey, Nolan Paige, Maciek Romanowicz, Robert Stineman, Trey Strobel and Anthony Tsodikov are slated to compete for Stanford.
In last year's event, Paige produced Stanford's best showing, dropping a 7-5, 6-3 decision to Santa Clara's John Lamble in the semifinals. Paige was coming off back-to-back three-set victories, after collecting three straight wins to open the tourney, highlighted by an upset of top-seeded Kyle McMorrow of Washington.
Seventh-ranked Stanford (12-3, 5-1 Pac-12) travels to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to take on Pac-12 foes Washington State (15-4, 2-4 Pac-12) and Washington (14-1, 6-1 Pac-12). The Cardinal faced the Cougars on Friday at 6 p.m. in Pullman before playing the sixth-ranked Huskies on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in Seattle.
Stanford got back on track last week, sweeping Utah and Colorado in Maples Pavilion. Ten of the Cardinal's 12 wins this season have been sweeps.
Senior middle blocker Carly Wopat was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after hitting .529 in the two matches (20-1-34). Junior libero Kyle Gilbert led the defense with 5.83 digs per set, including a match-high 19 against Utah.
Stanford's team blocks per set mark of 3.03 is the best in the nation. Wopat leads the conference and is 13th nationally with 1.40 blocks per set, while sophomore Inky Ajanaku is third in the Pac-12 and 30th in the nation with 1.31 blocks per set. Wopat recently eclipsed the 500 block plateau, while Ajanaku tallied the 200th of her career against Colorado on Oct. 12.
Stanford setter Madi Bugg has controlled the offense this season, ranking second in the Pac-12 and fifth in the nation with 11.88 assists per set. Five Cardinal players are averaging at least 2.33 kills per set: Wopat (3.26), Rachel Williams (3.00), Brittany Howard (2.86), Jordan Burgess (2.45) and Ajanaku (2.33).
Gilbert has led the defensive side of the ball for the Cardinal this season and ranks second on the Pac-12 charts with 4.70 digs per set. She collected a season-high 29 digs at California (9/25), leading all players. Gilbert is averaging 3.81 digs per set for her career, ranking second in program history behind Gabi Ailes (4.57).
Wopat leads the Pac-12 and third in the nation with a .498 hitting percentage this season.
Ajanaku is third in the conference with a .426 attack percentage, and 16th in the nation. Wopat is also eighth in the Pac-12 with 4.32 points per set and ninth with 3.26 kills per set.
No. 13 Stanford heads to North Carolina this weekend for a pair of top-25 matchups, taking on No. 14 Wake Forest and No. 8 Duke.
The Cardinal opens Friday at 4 p.m. (PT) against Wake Forest (8-5) before heading to Duke (10-3) Sunday at 9 a.m.
Stanford (10-3) makes the trip east after completing a dominating homestand that included nine goals and two shutouts. Hope Burke led the team with six points on two goals and two assists for the second consecutive week. Burke was named the NorPac West Division Offensive Player of the Week.
The Cardinal put together a strong defensive performance as well, limiting UC Davis to just two shots on Friday, while Dulcie Davies made seven saves to earn the victory over Yale. Davies, who now has tallied six shutouts, was named the NorPac West Division Defensive Player of the Week.
Stanford's six shutouts are tied for the second-most in the nation and the team ranks fourth in the NCAA with a 0.97 GAA.
No. 10 Stanford attempts to halt a rare three-match losing streak when it plays host to Utah on Friday at 7 p.m. to conclude a five-match conference-opening homestand.
This also is Homecoming Weekend at Stanford, and the women's soccer program will honor its alumnae at halftime; more than 60 are expected to attend.
Stanford (9-3-1 overall, 2-3-0) is out to end a slump that has caused the Cardinal to drop eight spots in the NSCAA/Continental Tire rankings in two weeks.
Utah (7-2-5, 3-1-1) is second in the Pac-12 after beating host Washington State, 4-3 in overtime on Sunday. The Utes led, 3-0 at, halftime. Katie Taylor scored the winner in the 104th minute. The result ended Utah's 11-match winless streak in conference road matches.
Taylor leads the team with five goals and 13 points. A year ago, Utah went 8-8-3 overall and 3-7-1 in the Pac-12. Utah is coached by Rich Manning, a former Santa Clara assistant.
On Sunday, Stanford lost for the third consecutive match, all at home, marking the longest losing streak since suffering three consecutive losses bridging the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
It also was its first home three-match losing streak since a four-match home streak bridging the 1986 and 1987 seasons. However, Stanford had a strong nonconference season, going 8-0-1.
After winning its last tournament, in Wisconsin, Stanford will take to the course again beginning Friday at the United States Collegiate Championship in Alpharetta, Ga.
The Stanford men's and women's teams are participating in the Pre-National meet on Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., the site of the NCAA championships next month.
Stanford travels to Berkeley on Sunday to face California for a Pac-12 Conference match against the nationally No. 1-ranked Bears at 2:30 p.m.
Stanford (6-3-2, 1-2-1 Pac-12) lost to UCLA in overtime and tied San Diego State, 3-3, last weekend.
Men's water polo
Nationally No. 4-ranked Stanford (0-1, 10-4) hosts No. 2 UCLA (0-0, 18-1) on Saturday in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation action at 10 a.m.
The Cardinal will conclude its weekend on Sunday against No. 11 UC Davis at noon at Avery Aquatic Center. It will be the third meeting between the Cardinal and Aggies this season.