Stanford women win at USC for the first time in four years


The top-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team did itself a favor Wednesday night in beating host USC, 25-21, 25-23, 25-16, in a Pac-12 Conference match.

The Cardinal (15-0, 25-0) preserved some of its energy for Thursday night's 7 p.m. match at UCLA, which will be the team's fifth match in 11 days.

Stanford, two wins from matching the 1991 team record of 27 straight to start a season, went to five sets in each of its previous two matches at home.

Playing so often does have its benefits. The Cardinal will have eight days to relax, reset and refocus for the final four matches, which includes a Nov. 26 date with No. 2 Washington in Seattle.

Beating the Trojans is never easy and Stanford was pressed through the first two sets in earning its first victory at the Galen Center since 2010.

Junior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku and redshirt freshman Merete Lutz each recorded 13 kills for Stanford while sophomore setter Madi Bugg added 37 assists and 14 digs. Lutz had a .667 hitting percentage.

Senior libero Kyle Gilbert had 21 digs and has 92 over his past three matches. Junior Jordan Burgess added 14 digs while senior Morgan Boukather had nine kills and 11 digs.

Stanford can finish no lower than second place, and the Huskies are a win away from clinching the same thing.

Only Washington or the Cardinal can win the conference title, which makes that Thanksgiving Eve meeting one to watch.

Men's water polo

No. 2 Stanford scored more than 20 goals in a game for the 10th time, involving 10 different players, en route to a 22-5 nonconference road victory over No. 17 Santa Clara on Wednesday night.

Stanford (21-3) completes the regular season at home on Saturday against No. 7 Pacific in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation game at noon.

The Cardinal will also honor its seniors Alex Bowen, Conner Cleary and Nick Hoversten. The day includes an alumni game.

In the previous 10 years, the Cardinal scored 20 or more goals in a game on 12 total occasions, and last season was the lone time in the past decade Stanford totaled more than 400 or averaged more than 12 per contest (413; 14.2 a game).

The Cardinal has scored 382 to date, with at least five more games remaining.

Following its match against Pacific, Stanford will compete as the No. 2 seed, behind UCLA, at next weekend's conference tournament.

Alex Bowen and Cody Smith led the Cardinal with five goals apiece. Bret Bonanni (added three while four others each scored twice: Reid Chase, Davis Clute, Sam Pfeil and Justin Roberto.

Bowen scored the 235th goal of his career, tying the senior with James Bergeson for third on the Cardinal's all-time list.

Smith recorded his first multi-goal effort since scoring six against Loyola Marymount on Oct. 11. The freshman has 40 on the season and is second among MPSF first-year players in goals per game at 1.67.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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