Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - October 15, 2010

It's just another busy weekend for top Stanford teams at home

by Rick Eymer

Even without a scheduled football game, the Stanford campus will be buzzing with activity this weekend. Anchored by two-day events in tennis and swimming, Cardinal athletic teams also face competition in men's and women's soccer and women's volleyball.

Stanford also sends four of its nationally ranked, including No. 1 men's cross country, on the road with a lot at stake.

Yet another top 10 battle is on tap for the second-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team, which hosts No. 7 Washington at 7 p.m. Friday. The men's soccer team kicks off at 7:30 p.m. against nationally ranked UCLA, while the top-ranked women open the soccer doubleheader at 5 p.m.

The George Haines Invitational swimming and diving meet opens Friday with trials at noon and finals at 6 p.m. Sunday's schedule starts at 11 a.m.

The meet continues the Western Athletic Conference Invitational that was held annually at San Jose State. The meet was renamed to honor the late former Stanford coach George Haines, who coached the Cardinal from 1981 to 1988, producing two Pac-10 titles and the 1983 NCAA title. In his seven years at The Farm, Haines' teams never finished lower than third at the NCAA meet.

Stanford comes in after a runnerup national finish at last year's NCAA Championships. Under sixth year head coach Lea Maurer, a former Olympic medalist for the Cardinal, Stanford won its first conference title since 2005 and 17th overall.

To go along with the No. 1 rated recruiting class in the nation, the Cardinal feature features: Kate Dwelley (freestyle), Betsy Webb (sprints), Sam Woodward (sprints) and Liz Smith (breast) among its top competitors.

Haines, of course, has an extended influence on Bay Area swimming. The Hall of Famer founded the highly-successful Santa Clara Swim Club in 1950, eventually coaching 26 future Olympians. He also coached on seven U.S. Olympic teams.

Stanford is the host site for the men's Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northwest Regional Championships, which runs through Sunday at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

In addition to host Stanford, the event will showcase top players from California, Eastern Washington, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Oregon, Pacific, Portland, Portland State, Sacramento State, Saint Mary's, San Francisco, San Jose State, Santa Clara, UC Davis, Washington and Washington State.

The singles finalists and doubles champion from each of the 24 regionals earn a berth to the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, scheduled to begin Nov. 4 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

Ten Cardinal players will compete in singles action this weekend. Ryan Thacher enters the weekend as the tournament's No. 2 seed while Alex Clayton (No. 3), Greg Hirshman (No. 9), Denis Lin (No. 9) and Matt Kandath (No. 17) are also seeded.

Also in action for Stanford will be Menlo School grad Jamin Ball, Daniel Ho, Fawasz Hourani, Ted Kelly and Walker Kehrer.

Women's soccer

Christen Press set Stanford's career goals mark last Friday, when she scored on a 20-yarder against USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum in a 2-1 victory. She also owns the all-time school scoring record.

The top-ranked Cardinal (3-0, 11-0-2) hosts Washington State at 5 p.m. Friday and Washington at noon Sunday.

Men's soccer

After gaining its first win in Pac-10 play, Stanford (1-2, 5-6) will try to improve its standing in the conference with a pair of home matches this weekend and it's not going to be easy.

First up is unbeaten UCLA (3-0, 8-2) as the back end of a men's and women's soccer doubleheader. The Cardinal and 13th-ranked Bruins square off at approximately 7:30 p.m.

San Diego State (1-2, 7-3) comes to Stanford for a 2:30 p.m. match Sunday, also following a women's match.

Stanford earned an overtime win at Oregon State in its last appearance. Dominique Yahyavi scored the golden goal in the 107th minute.

"Dom is an explosive player with the ability to break down defenses on ball," Stanford coach Bret Simon said.

Galen Perkins made his first two career starts over the weekend, allowing two goals in 197 minutes for a goals-against average of 0.91. He recorded his first career shutout against Oregon State.

"He has great hands and good mobility," Simon said. "He is brave and confident in the goal."

Yahyavi leads the Cardinal in scoring with five goals and 11 points. Bobby Warshaw, who has led Stanford in points the previous three years, has three goals from his central defender position.

Stanford and UCLA have an interesting history. The Cardinal owns a 3-2-4 mark against the Bruins in their past nine meetings. That comes on the heels of a nine-match losing streak to UCLA dating to a tie during the 2001 season.

Women's volleyball

No. 2 Stanford's loss at UCLA on Saturday ended a 14-match season-opening win streak and dropped the Cardinal to No. 2 in the AVCA rankings. Stanford (14-1, 5-1) is in a three-way tie for first in the loss column with Cal (15-1, 5-1) and Washington (15-1, 4-1). The Cardinal hosts No. 7 Washington on Friday at 7 p.m., Washington State at 7 p.m. Saturday and California next Friday at 7 p.m.

The Cardinal leads the nation in kills per set (15.06), and is second in the country with a .324 hitting percentage and 14.10 assists per set. Senior Alix Klineman is among the national leaders in kills (5.63, 2nd), points (6.16, 3rd) and hitting percentage (.382, 30th).

Stanford has out hit its opponents in all 15 matches this season. In fact, the Cardinal has hit .250 or better in all 14 of its wins.

Senior libero Gabi Ailes leads the conference with 5.09 digs per set in conference only matches, while Klineman is the Pac-10 leader in conference matches in kills (6.68), hitting percentage (.396) and points (7.02). Klineman also ranks amongst the top-10 in dig per set in conference matches (3.14, 10th).

Men's water polo

Stanford (1-0, 7-4) moved into fourth in the CWPA Top 20 rankings Wednesday but there's more work ahead.

The Cardinal, which beat top-ranked USC at home last Saturday, has a chance to make another move this weekend when it travels to No. 3 UCLA (1-1, 9-3) for a 7 p.m. contest Friday night in an important Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match.

Stanford also plays at No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (9-4) at noon Sunday. The Gauchos handed Stanford one of its losses at the SoCal Invitational.

UCLA has lost two of its last three, splitting a pair of MPSF contests last weekend. The Bruins fell, 11-8, to California and beat Pacific, 10-9.

UCLA beat the Cardinal in the semifinals of the NorCal Invitational earlier in the season.

The Bruins are led by Menlo School grad Ben Hohl, who has a team-high 22 goals.

Cross country

Stanford returns to action this weekend as both the men's and women's teams will compete at the NCAA Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday.

Most of the top teams in the nation will be in attendance as the course is also used for the NCAA championships in November.

The men are ranked No. 1 and are the defending team champions of the event. The women are ranked No. 17 and are looking to raise its ranking.

Field hockey

Stanford has been in the national rankings for a school-record 16 consecutive weeks, dating to Sept. 18, 2009.

The Cardinal (8-3) entered last week ranked No. 17 in the country and routed Harvard 6-0 in its only match. Instead of climbing in the polls, Stanford actually dropped three spots to No. 20.

A win over 8th-ranked Syracuse (8-4) at 9 a.m. (PT) in Albany, N.Y. would certainly solidify Stanford's position in the rankings.

The Orange has all three previous meetings with Stanford, though they last met five years ago.

Stanford is at Rutgers Sunday and Northeastern on Monday.

The Cardinal features a balanced offensive attack in which 15 different players have scored goals. It is led by junior forward Stephanie Byrne, who has 13 points, with five goals and three assists. Becky Dru has four goals and a team-high four assists. Junior goalkeeper Alessandra Moss has an 1.36 goals against average and 33 saves.

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