Uploaded: Friday, November 9, 2012, 12:47 AM
Stanford digs in against the Huskies in Pac-12 volleyball
|Brittany Howard, one of the five freshmen who have made an impact for the top-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team, recorded her seventh double-double of the season and did so in a big way.
Howard led the Cardinal to its 22nd consecutive victory, recording a team best 12 kills and 31 digs, a 25-23, 25-11, 21-25, 25-22 victory over No. 5 Washington at Maples Pavilion on Thursday in yet another critical Pac-12 match.
Stanford (16-0, 24-2) gets no respite, traveling to Los Angeles to meet No. 8 USC next Thursday at 7 p.m., and No. 6 UCLA the next night, also at 7 p.m.
Howard's digs total matched Stanford's all-time leader in the category Gabi Ailes for third-most in a single match.
Juniors Carly Wopat and Rachel Williams each added 10 kills and freshman Jordan Burgess had eight kills to go with 13 digs.
In a defensive battle, libero Kyle Gilbert had 24 digs, one shy of her career best, while Madi Bugg and Karissa Cook combined for 46 assists. Stanford hit just .190, but limited the Huskies to a .133 hitting percentage.
Successive blocks from senior Hayley Spelman and freshman Inky Ajanaku gave the Cardinal a 21-20 advantage in a see-saw first set and Stanford was able to hold off the Huskies the rest of the way.
Palo Alto High grad Melanie Wade, a Washington freshman, made her return a solid one as she started and produced nine kills for the Huskies. The 6-foot-5 Wade was the most efficient hitter on either team with one swing error in 14 attacks for a .571 hitting percentage. She also had four block assists, one in Game 3 against Howard.
Wade had her own rooting section as former Paly teammates plus head coach Dave Winn made the short trip across El Camino Real to watch Wade perform. Last year at this time, Wade was helping the Vikings prepare for what turned out to be their second straight CIF Division I state championship.
Wade's debut with the No. 5 Huskies (20-5, 11-5 Pac-12) was delayed after an ankle injury forced her to miss the first nine games of the season. Since then she has worked herself into the lineup, earning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors earlier following home matches against Cal and Stanford, where she had 13 blocks during the weekend split.
Stanford seeks its 15th women's team title and 13th men's when it competes in the NCAA West Regional on Friday at the Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle, Wash.
The meet, one of nine regionals around the country on Friday, acts as a qualifier for the NCAA Championships Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky. Neither Stanford team has finished lower than third since 1994 and both have qualified every year in that span.
The West Region consists of California, Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and portions of Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona. The top two teams in each race automatically advance. In addition, 13 teams will receive at-large berths in each of the men's and women's divisions.
Individual runners can also qualify for NCAAs if they are among the top four finishers in the region not on an advancing team, while also finishing in the top 25 overall in the race.
The Stanford men were first and the women third last year. The Cardinal men, ranked No. 3 in the nation, are ranked No. 1 in the region. The Cardinal women, No. 5 in the nation, are ranked No. 3 in the region.
In the women's competition, senior Kathy Kroeger enters the 6,000-meter race (3.73 miles) coming off her Pac-12 individual championship on Oct. 27. Her highest placing in this meet was fifth in 2010 in Springfield, Ore., but she's expected to contend with two-time champion Jordan Hasay of Oregon for first.
Among the men, Stanford is coming off a second-place finish at the Pac-12 meet, with Joe Rosa leading the way in sixth. However, with Pac-12 champion Colorado competing in the Mountain Region, Stanford comes in as the favorite to win its third title in four years, over the 10,000-meter course (6.2 miles).
Consensus No. 1 Stanford begins defense of its 2011 national championship when it plays host to Idaho State on Friday (7 p.m.) at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
Stanford (17-1-1) recently captured its fourth Pacific-12 Conference championship and plays the Bengals (11-5-3), the Big Sky Conference tournament and regular-season tri-champ.
Stanford puts its 63-match home unbeaten streak on the line as it begins its attempt to reach its fifth consecutive College Cup.
Freshman Krista Hardebeck won her opening-round match at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships on Thursday afternoon, defeating Alabama's Alexa Guarachi 6-4, 6-2.
Hardebeck advanced to Friday's second round, where she will face Florida's Sofie Oyen at 10 a.m. PT.
Meanwhile in doubles, the Cardinal's duo of Stacey Tan and Ellen Tsay dropped an 8-4 decision to USC's Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria following a first-round bye.
Tan and Tsay will next battle Columbia's Bianca Sanon and Tiana Takenaga in a consolation match on Friday at 7 a.m. PT.
— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Sports Information
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