The Stanford women's golf team shot consecutive rounds of 1-over 289 Monday to lead the 13-team field at UC Irvine Invitational. The No. 5 Cardinal enters the final round with a 10-stroke lead over second-place Texas A&M and seeks a second straight win for the first time since the opening two contests of the 2013 spring campaign.
Individual leader Mariah Stackhouse of Stanford was 5-under through two rounds, and was joined in the top 10 by teammates Lauren Kim (+1) and Casey Danielson (+3), who were tied for fifth and eighth, respectively.
"Mariah, Casey and Lauren all posted great rounds, which is the reason we have a chance to win. I know every player on our team can play even better, and we're working on that."
The tournament concludes with the final 18 holes Tuesday. The individual winner of the tournament will receive a sponsor exemption to the 2014 Kia Classic (March 27-30) at the Aviara Golf Club.
Stackhouse was 2-under through her first 18 holes at the par-72 Santa Ana Country Club. After a bogey on the third hole of her second round, Stackhouse posted four birdies to finish with a 3-under 69 to end the day.
Kim followed an opening-round 74 with a 1-under 71, including birdies on four and 10. Danielson, who tied for second with Kim at last week's Peg Barnard Invitational, went 69 in the first round but used nine more strokes to finish the second 18 with a 78.
Stanford's Quirine Eijkenboom stumbled out of the gate and went 76-74 to finish at 6-over through 36 holes. Mariko Tumangan had four birdies during her second stint through the course and posted rounds of 76-75 to finish tied for 18th at 7-over.
Nationally No. 8-ranked Stanford rallied from an 0-2 deficit against No. 3 UCLA, but came up short in the fifth set and dropped a 23-25, 26-28, 25-20, 25-19, 15-17 decision on Monday at Maples Pavilion.
The Cardinal dropped to 9-6 on the year and to 6-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, while the Bruins moved to 13-3 overall and to 10-2 in the MPSF.
"I thought Brian Cook had a great match for us tonight," said Stanford head coach John Kosty. "Denny Falls played solidly for us also. We are in the rally-score era and so as well as we did play, each game we have to make a couple more plays. A couple of those plays would shift the momentum our way."
Cook, a senior outside hitter, finished with 17 kills on 40 attempts with just one error to hit .400. The Santa Cruz native also tallied eight digs and four blocks. Senior Steven Irvin finished with 17 kills, a match-high 13 digs and three aces. Falls registered a season-high 10 kills on a .562 attack percentage to go with six blocks.
Sophomore setter James Shaw collected 53 assists to go with seven kills and seven digs. Sophomore middle Conrad Kaminski added eight kills and a match-best seven blocks, while redshirt junior libero Scott Sakaida finished with 12 digs in three sets played.
"I thought Scott [Sakaida came in and did a nice job of settling us down," added Kosty. "The match was won and lost in the first and second games. We had our opportunities, and to UCLA's credit, they played well and played consistently. They made some plays in the end to beat us in those first two sets."
As a team, Stanford hit .278 and held UCLA to a .228 clip. It is the fourth time this season the Cardinal has lost a match while outhitting an opponent. Stanford drops to 0-5 in five-set matches.
Stanford hits the road this week to take on No. 5 Long Beach State on Friday at 7 p.m. The Cardinal will wrap up the weekend at Cal State Northridge on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
"We are in the MPSF, and both Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge are very talented teams," said Kosty. "They both play really well at home, so we have our work cut out for us. Our team is solid and we have some great leadership, and we will be ready to go."
Earlier in the day, Stanford senior opposite Eric Mochalski was named the MPSF/Molten Player of the Week for Feb. 17-23.
Mochalski led Stanford to a sweep over then-No. 5 UC Santa Barbara last Friday. He led all players with 13 kills on a .667 attack percentage. The Manhattan Beach native also registered season highs with seven digs and five blocks. As a team, Stanford set a rally-scoring era record with 21.5 blocks in the sweep. The Cardinal held the Gauchos to a .011 hitting percentage, the second-lowest by an opponent in program history.