Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 5, 2010

Another big test for women in water polo

Cardinal hosts nation's top teams at Stanford Invitational

by Rick Eymer

The Stanford women's water polo team faces its biggest test of the young season and the Cardinal players would not have it any other way.

After all, it's the Stanford Invitational, with eight of the top nine teams in the nation entered, and Cardinal coach John Tanner didn't even try to manipulate things to his advantage.

Top-ranked Stanford (3-0) hosts sixth-ranked Michigan in Saturday's first game at 8:30 a.m., and then faces second-ranked USC later in the day at 4 p.m.

"We'll be good," Tanner said. "Practices have been great and I feel we'll be able to go at people in a lot of different ways."

The Cardinal plays seventh-ranked San Jose State on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and then could face defending national champions and No. 3 UCLA in the placement game later on Sunday.

Michigan (3-1) is no slouch. The Wolverines have NCAA tournament experience and owns a win over seventh-ranked San Diego State. Their lone loss was a 10-7 decision to the Bruins.

The Spartans are off to their best start in history, opening the season with seven wins. The Women of Troy won 26 of 28 matches last year, and lost to UCLA in the national title contest.

The Cardinal owns an all-time record of 30-6 in their invitational, with all six setbacks to UCLA or USC, dating to 2001.

Sophomore Melissa Seidemann once again leads Stanford in scoring, with seven goals and a pair of hat tricks over the weekend. Returning all-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation goalkeeper Amber Oland and fellow goalies Kim Hall and Kate Baldoni all saw action in last week's tournament at Berkeley.

The tournament is an early barometer for national presence among the top teams from the MPSF and across the nation. It also brings local high school grads together from other schools, including Sacred Heart Prep grad Adriana Vogt at San Jose State and a host of locals who play for UCLA: Menlo School grad Megan Burmeister, Sacred Heart Prep grad KK Clark, Menlo School grad Camy Sullivan, and Sacred Heart Prep grad MJ Mordell.

"We're confident we can play strong or in a fast-paced game," Tanner said. "We have some speedsters."

Stanford has finished third in its own tournament in each of the past six years. The Cardinal last won the title in 2003. 

Men's volleyball

Stanford rebounded from two close home losses with a convincing 30-22, 28-30, 30-20, 30-26 victory over visiting Pacific on Wednesday night.

The fifth-ranked Cardinal (4-3, 4-3) hopes to carry that momentum into Friday night's 7 p.m. nonconference game against visiting UC Santa Cruz.

Stanford hosts two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contests next weekend against UCLA and defending national champion UC Irvine that will go a long way in determining the conference champion.

"I think we hit our rough spot," Stanford middle blocker Charley Henrikson said. "We're going to get better."

Stanford dropped matches to UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge last week to fall off the pace in the MPSF.

Cardinal outside hitter Spencer McLachlin, out with a shoulder injury, missed those matches, and remains unavailable.

Senior Jason Palacios was in the starting lineup for the first time this year and the third time in his career for the victory over the Tigers.

He did great," Stanford coach John Kosty said. "He had a solid passing game, and had key kills and key digs. He did everything that we needed from him to win in the MPSF. And he can play better, and that's what we're excited about."

McLachlin could return next week. In the meantime, Kosty has used Palacios, Garrett Dobbs, Henrikson, and freshman Myles Muagututia at different points in an effort to find the right combination.

"It's not easy having a three-year starter out," Stanford senior setter Kawika Shoji said. "Other guys are stepping up, but we're still figuring out how to play together, especially guys like Brad (Lawson) and Erik (Shoji) trying to figure out how to pass with a new person in there."

Erik Shoji, who set the national season record for digs last year, had a season-high 18 and Kawika Shoji had 47 assists and seven kills against Pacific. Ellis and Garrett Werner each had six blocks as the Cardinal combined for 13 1/2.

Lawson and Evan Romero each had 17 kills against the Tigers. Romero hit at a .359 clip. 

Men's tennis

Stanford sophomore Bradley Klahn just keeps getting better following his sensational freshman season as the ITA Newcomer of the Year.

Klahn was named Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week it was learned Wednesday. The honor is the first of the season for Klahn and fourth overall for his career.

Klahn won both of his singles and doubles matches at the No.1 position over the weekend, helping Stanford earn a berth to the National Team Indoor Championships.

In the Cardinal's win over UNC Wilmington, Klahn cruised past Michael Pereira 6-3, 6-0 and teamed with Ryan Thacher for an 8-3 doubles win over the Seahawks' top team of Pereira and Ryan Ybarra.

Against Oklahoma, Klahn handled No. 10 Andrei Daescu 6-2, 7-6 (11) and teamed with Thacher for an 8-2 win at the No. 1 spot in doubles.

Klahn is ranked No. 54 in singles while he and Thacher comprise the nation's top-ranked doubles squad.  

Stanford is back in action on Saturday with a home match against Hawaii at 1 p.m. 

Women's tennis

Junior Hilary Barte led a sweep of the singles in straight sets as Stanford downed visiting UC Davis, 7-0, in a nonconference match Tuesday.

Barte and Veronica Li, at No. 6 singles, each lost one game. No one else lost more than six games as Stanford won its 153rd consecutive home match, and 205 of 206 over the past 14 years.

The Cardinal (2-0) travels to Texas Christian for a noon match on Friday and to Texas for a noon match Saturday.

Barte and Lindsay Burdette won at No. 1 doubles, 8-1. Li and Carolyn McVeigh's win at No. 3 clinched the doubles point.

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