By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
The moment of truth has arrived for Stanford's top-ranked women's soccer team and the third-ranked women's volleyball team.
Their defining Pac-10 moments come to town Friday in the form of Oregon State and UCLA, respectively, the first a surprise and the second always a given.
Stanford's volleyball match gets underway at 7 p.m. in Maples Pavilion. Stanford's soccer match gets started at 8 p.m. across the practice football field and Sunken Diamond from Maples, and will be televised nationally by Fox Soccer Net.
Cardinal senior Christen Press continues to lead the nation in scoring with 49 points (2.72 per contest) on 21 goals (also tops in the country) and seven assists. Palo Alto High grad Teresa Noyola has eight goals and 11 assists, ranking 39th in the nation in scoring and eighth in assists. Stanford, coming off a 3-0 win at California last Saturday, ranks third overall in scoring offense.
Oregon State (7-0, 15-1-1) enters the match ranked 13th by NSCAA, seventh by Soccer America and sixth by TopDrawerSoccer.com. Stanford (7-0, 16-0-2) is the unanimous No. 1.
The Beavers already have established their best mark in program history and are on a 10-match winning streak.
"The game on Friday is massive," Oregon State coach Linus Rhode said. "It's for the Pac-10 Championship. It's the first time we've ever been in that type of situation as a program. Stanford is the No. 1 team, they haven't lost a game this year, so it should be a great environment to go down there and play and get a result."
Oregon State junior goalkeeper Colleen Boyd, sixth nationally in goals against average, has been credited with 13 shutouts, the past six in succession, and has allowed seven goals on the season. Stanford freshman Emily Oliver ranks third nationally, allowing four goals in 14 contests.
"I think that tactically, it's going to be a tight game," Rhode said. "Defensively, we're going to have to be on it. They have some very talented individuals on their offense. Our defense has been very strong this year."
The Beavers, who have never finished higher than fifth in conference play, own signature wins over USC and UCLA, both of which came in Corvallis.
Their lone loss was at No. 11 UC Irvine. Oregon State is 3-1 against teams with winning records.
Stanford hopes to clinch at least a tie of its second straight Pac-10 title and ninth overall.
The Beavers are looking for their first-ever title.
Whatever the outcome, both schools will advance to the NCAA tournament, which would begin a week from Friday. The NCAA selection show will be televised live on ESPNU on Monday at 1:30 p.m.
The Cardinal, which has a six-game winning streak over Oregon State, has won its last 29 home consecutive home matches and is unbeaten in its last 33 at home. The Beavers have not scored a goal at Stanford since 1996 and have won once (2003) in the 17-game history of the series.
Cardinal sophomore defender Alina Garciamendez returned to school after playing for Mexico in Tuesday's 3-0 loss to Canada in Cancun as part of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament.
Castilleja grad Lindsay Taylor has scored a goal in each of her past five matches after scoring four in the first 13.
The Cardinal (9-2, 18-2) lost its first match against UCLA, giving Friday night's contest even bigger implications.
The 10th-ranked Bruins (7-4, 17-5) are a fistful of kills away from making the Pac-10 race extremely tight, as they also play at No. 2 California this weekend.
The Bears (10-1, 20-1) are also in a trepid situation, with visiting USC (8-3, 18-3) the last team to beat them.
Stanford, which swept both Oregon and Oregon State on the road last weekend, hosts the seventh-ranked Women of Troy at 1 p.m. Sunday.
For the Cardinal to maintain any chance at defending its conference championship, these two matches rank high on the must-win list.
Stanford leads the nation in hitting percentage with a .322 season clip and is ranked third with 14.01 assists per set and fifth with 14.91 kills per set.
Senior Alix Klineman is among the national leaders in kills (5.64, 2nd), points (6.29, 2nd) and hitting percentage (.382, 29th). She leads all active Pac-10 players with 1,792 kills, ranks sixth with 1,027 digs, is tied for fourth with 81 aces and is eighth with 258 blocks. Klineman will likely become Stanford's 10th four-time All-American.
Senior libero Gabi Ailes has 1,955 digs for her career, seventh all-time in Pac-10 history. She appears to be on the brink of becoming the seventh conference player to record 2,000 digs. Her 4.55 career digs average is sixth-best in conference history.
UCLA is led by a pair of outside hitters in senior Dicey McGraw and sophomore Rachael Kidder. McGraw leads the team with 3.58 kills per set and 4.08 points per set, while Kidder averages 3.52 kills and 3.94 points.
Junior libero Lainey Gera leads the Pac-10 with a 4.72 digs per set average, while junior setter Lauren Van Orden is fifth in the conference with 11.17 assists per set.
Men's water polo
Fourth-ranked Stanford hosts a pair of Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contests this weekend.
The Cardinal (3-1, 10-5) meets visiting Long Beach State at noon Saturday and then plays No. 5 UC Irvine on Sunday at noon.
Stanford, which has won its last 11 matches at home, beat Santa Clara, 17-6, in a nonconference match last Friday as each Jeffrey Schwimer and Jacob Smith scored four goals. Smith leads Stanford with 35 goals.
Goalie Brian Pingree is fourth in the conference with 7.13 saves per game and fifth with a 7.69 goals-against average.
The top two teams from last year's NCAA Championships, Stanford (1-0) and Florida (1-1) along with 15th-place Michigan (2-2), compete in a two-day tri-meet at the Avery Aquatics Center on Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m.
Last year's NCAA title came down to the final event, as Florida edged the Cardinal by less than three points.
Stanford's freshmen were rated the top recruiting class in the nation, headlined by Maya DiRado, Felicia Lee and Andie Taylor, all among the top high school swimmers in various events last year.
Stanford hosts the Pac-10-SEC Challenge beginning Friday at the Stanford Golf Course. The tournament runs through Sunday.
Stanford opens its season Sunday with a 3 p.m. nonconference match against Northwestern.
Junior Nick Amuchastegui is the Cardinal's top returning wrestler. He led the team with a 34-6 record, 17-1 in duals, at 165 pounds. He earned All-America honors after placing fourth at last year's NCAA Championships.
He will be joined by younger brother Luke Amuchastegui, who will wrestle at 157 pounds.