Sports


Stanford women endure to win grueling 5-setter over Duke

 

Freshman Hayley Hodson recorded a season-best 17 kills, redshirt sophomore Merete Lutz added 15 kills and the third-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team outlasted host Duke, 25-17, 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-10, Friday at the Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.

The Cardinal (4-2) stopped its two-match slide by rallying for the five-set victory. Stanford looks to continue its winning at home against Pacific next Friday at 7 p.m.


Joe Rosa
Hodson recorded two key kills in the final set that gave Stanford a 7-5 edge and paced the team with a .333 attack percentage to go with 12 digs.

Lutz recorded three of her kills and one of her blocks over Stanford's final six points. Senior outside hitter Brittany Howard also tallied a double-double with 11 kills and 13 digs.

Senior setter Madi Bugg led the offense with 44 assists and 14 digs for her second double-double of the season. Freshman libero Halland McKenna anchored the defense with 23 digs, and a key ace in the fifth set.

Redshirt sophomore Ivana Vanjak, playing in just her sixth match as a middle blocker, had a career high 11 blocks to go with seven kills. Senior outside hitter Jordan Burgess finished with four kills and a season-best 18 digs.

As a team, Stanford out hit Duke .234 to .189 and led the Blue Devils in the block column, 15-44.

Duke's Emily Sklar, the 2011 California Gatorade Player of the Year out of San Jose, led all players with 27 kills.

Women's soccer

The goals came quickly, two exquisite rapid strikes that left No. 2 Stanford looking at a 2-0 loss to Penn State on Friday night.

Stanford (4-1) doesn't lose often in women's soccer, and it doesn't lose big at home -- Stanford's last home loss by more than a goal was way back in 2007.

Contrary to the score, Stanford was not outplayed. It outshot the No. 7 Nittany Lions, 16-4, and had a time of possession advantage of more than 15 minutes, by Stanford's count.

But there was something missing that prevented the result from seeming like a fluke. How does a team outshot by such a margin leave feeling it deserved it? By seizing each chance with confidence and control.

Penn State's Frannie Crouse epitomized that. First, she picked Stanford clean just outside the box to launch a quick attack that ended with her first-touch left-footed shot that bounced in off the right post.

That 10th minute strike was followed by another, in the 66th minute. Crouse beat a defender to the end line to send in a cross that was volleyed in by Brittany Basinger from close range.

It wasn't the four shots, it was what Penn State did with those four shots that could serve as a lesson for Stanford, a team that started three freshmen and counts heavily on young players across the board.

"The thing you learn a lot from the college game is how much every second of every game means," said Stanford's Andi Sullivan, a sophomore captain. Big games like this aren't won across the whole spectrum, they're won in tiny seconds where you could have done something more. You could have dug a little deeper.

"That's not something just our freshmen need to learn, but that goes for our whole team. We were lacking hunger."

Those freshmen --Jordan DiBiasi in midfield, Alana Cook in central defense, and Michelle Xiao up front -- did quite well.

Xiao has scored two goals and been the team's most dynamic attacker. Cook is learning that a Stanford central defender must be as good with her feet as she is in parrying away attacks. And DiBiasi has become one of the team's most vital players – unspectacular, but involved in every Stanford offensive thrust.

"Jordan has an unusual and exceptional understanding of the game," Sullivan said. "She reads the game very well, especially offensively. And she's not only super consistent, she's also creative. She's got great vision and combines with her teammates very well."

Scoring goals remains the biggest need for improvement. Stanford has scored eight times this season, and the goals have come from six different players. Of those, Xiao's two and one by Ryan Walker-Hartshorn represent Stanford's only goals from forwards. That's where DiBiasi comes in.

"She's a major catalyst for us." Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "The hard thing with younger players is consistency. But I thought they did well today. They played well and they're continuing to grow with each game, and that's the most important thing."

Stanford came in with a lofty ranking, and the loss certainly will drop the Cardinal some. But it may not be a bad thing, Ratcliffe admitted. Stanford is a team that needs to prove itself, despite a recent history that includes six NCAA College Cup appearances in seven years.

"It's a young team," Ratcliffe noted. "We've got to learn from it."

Cross Country

Stanford opened its cross country season at the Fresno State Invitational on Friday morning, taking a controlled approach to a meet that was marred by poor air quality.

The Cardinal used the men's and women's races as tempo workouts, running in packs and hitting specific splits. The meet was scored as a series of duals, with Cal Poly beating the Stanford men, 24-33, and beating the Cardinal women, 23-33. Six teams competed in the men's race and eight in the women's at Woodward Park.

The seven Cardinal men all finished within four seconds of each other, clocking between 18:34-18:38 over 6 kilometers (3.7 miles). Joe Rosa and Thomas Coyle were the highest finishers, in sixth and seventh, both in 18:34.

In the women's race, Stanford's seven runners finished within 20 seconds of each other, between eighth and 19th place. Molly McNamara and Aisling Cuffe, were eighth and ninth, respectively, with each clocking 14:38 for the 4.2-kilometer (2.6 miles) distance. It was Cuffe's first race since finishing fourth at the 2013 NCAA cross country championships.

Those making their collegiate debut after redshirt seasons were Steven Fahy and Patrick Perrier, who finished 12th and 13th, respectively, in 18:36 and 18:37.

The races were run despite smoky air blown from the Rough Fire, which continues to expand east of Fresno and has consumed more than 119,000 acres of forest land. The sun appeared orange and the air took on a grayish color.

A Fresno State women's soccer match scheduled for Friday night was postponed and high school football games throughout the area were canceled.

Stanford had arrived directly from a 10-day training camp at Mammoth Lakes, at more than 7,800 feet in elevation, and returned to campus Friday afternoon.

The Cardinal competes next at the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 26 at the Stanford Golf Course. The team's only home event this year begins at 9 a.m. with the first of 12 high school races. The college races are scheduled for 9:50 a.m. (women's) and 10:30 (men's).

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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