Stanford women's volleyball remains atop Pac-12 standings with a sweep of Arizona
When it comes to women's volleyball and the Pac-12 Conference, there's no such thing as a sure thing. Second-ranked Stanford, undefeated in conference play, has been put to the test the past two weekends and there's another one this week.
The Cardinal, however, began the new week just like the previous ones with a 25-19, 25-18, 25-20 sweep of Arizona on Wednesday night in Maples Pavilion.
Cardinal freshman Inky Ajanaku recorded 11 kills and Stanford spread the wealth around in beating the Wildcats.
Junior Carly Wopat, who was the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for wins over Washington and Washington State last week, joined with freshman Jordan Burgess for nine kills while junior Rachel Williams added eight kills and five blocks as the second-ranked Cardinal (11-0, 19-2) opened the second half of Pac-12 play with its 17th consecutive victory.
Ajanaku also had four blocks and a hitting percentage of .526 as Stanford outhit the Wildcats, .292 to .130. Burgess added 12 digs and Williams recorded a season-best .412 hitting percentage.
Setters Karissa Cook and Madi Bugg combined for 40 assists and 16 digs for the Cardinal, which hosts Arizona State on Friday night at 7 p.m. before going on the road to meet Oregon State and current second-place Oregon.
Ajanaku had seven of her kills and three of her blocks in the first set to pave the way for the sweep. The Cardinal hit .394 and limited the Wildcats to a .161 clip.
Stanford returned to No. 1 in the NSCAA Top 25 released Tuesday.
Stanford's weekend home sweep over Washington and Washington State, combined with previously undefeated Florida State's 3-2 loss at Boston College on Thursday, enabled the Cardinal to move from No. 2 past the Seminoles in the rankings.
The latest rankings add to the intrigue for a Pac-12 showdown on Sunday between No. 1 Stanford (14-1-1, 8-0) and No. 2 UCLA (14-0-2, 7-0-1), which also leapfrogged past Florida State.
Stanford plays at UCLA's Drake Stadium on Sunday at 6 p.m. in a match televised nationally on the Pac-12 Networks.
Stanford first plays at unranked USC on Friday (7 p.m.), while UCLA plays host to No. 21 California.
Stanford was the NSCAA's preseason No. 1 and held the ranking for an additional two weeks before being upset by then-unranked West Virginia on Aug. 26, 1-0, in University Park, Pa.
Stanford also has been ranked No. 1 the past three seasons, and advanced to the NCAA College Cup final each time.
Stanford freshman Krista Hardebeck may still be getting used to the college scene but she hasn't forgotten how to win tennis tournaments. In her second collegiate tournament, Hardebeck captured the singles crown at the ITA Northwest Regional Championships on Tuesday at Stanford.
The fifth-seeded Hardebeck outlasted fourth-seeded Annett Schutting of California, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), to claim the title, completing an impressive tournament run in which she dropped only two sets over a five-day stretch at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
Hardebeck, who reached the quarterfinals of the ITA All-American Championships earlier this month, improved to 11-1 overall with Tuesday's victory.
In the doubles final, Stanford's top-seeded duo of Stacey Tan and Ellen Tsay defeated California's team of Tayler Davis and Annie Goransson, 8-4.
Repeating as doubles champions in the event, Tan and Tsay breezed through five matches while surrendering four games or less in each contest.
The singles finalists and doubles champion from each regional earn berths to the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, slated for Nov. 8-11 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Winners and finalists from the various ITA Regional Championships around the country, plus at-large selections, will make up the singles field of 32 and the 16-team doubles draw.
Stanford freshman Nolan Paige's impressive tournament run came to an end Tuesday afternoon at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northwest Regional Championships in Moraga.
Paige dropped a 7-5, 6-3 decision to Santa Clara's John Lamble in the semifinals.
The Cardinal rookie 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.