Propelled by a season-high 11 aces, the Stanford women's volleyball team dispatched Saint Mary's 25-14, 25-16, 25-14 at Maples Pavilion on Saturday night to conclude its nonconference schedule.
It was the second straight sweep for the eighth-ranked Cardinal (6-2), who trounced No. 24 Pacific 3-0 on Friday.
"We've been through a bit this year; we've had some injuries and things, so it has been hard to feel the flow, but I think we're starting to get there," said Stanford coach John Dunning. "I thought our whole game fit together better tonight; volleyball is a lot of serve and pass, if you do those well, you've got an advantage. And, I thought we served and passed really well tonight."
Senior setter Madi Bugg led the Cardinal with four aces, including one on the opening serve of the match, and is the team leader in the category with nine.
Highly-touted freshman Hayley Hodson added three aces of her own, with junior Kelsey Humphreys chipping in two.
"We've been working a lot on serve and pass, it's kind of the building block of every team," Bugg said. "We want to be the best team in the country, which means we have to be the best serving and passing team, that definitely has to be our number-one priority. And, I think our team has been frustrated by how many serves we've been missing. We're still trying to find the line between being aggressive, but not missing."
And the Cardinal was not missing early on. The team jumped out to a 6-1 lead against the Gaels in the first set, and was on top 15-6 before Saint Mary's head coach Rob Browning called his second timeout. But, the Gaels were unable to get within five points from there on out, as Stanford cruised to a 25-14 first set victory.
Saint Mary's did not fold immediately, however, and earned its first lead of the match early in the second set on a Hodson error.
A run of sloppy play by the Cardinal allowed the Gaels to run their advantage to 7-3 and forced Stanford into a timeout.
Kills by junior Merete Lutz and senior Brittany Howard, and two aces from Bugg pulled the Cardinal even at 9-9. A Jordan Burgess kill with the score tied 12-12 put Stanford in front for good. That keyed a 13-4 run as Dunning's group closed out the set 25-16.
Stanford rolled its momentum right through the 10 minute break and into the third set, leading by as many as 13 points en route to a 25-14 victory. The Gaels put in a 5-0 spurt in the latter stages of the set, but it only prolonged the inevitable.
A powerful kill by freshman Tami Alade, the Cardinal's 42nd of the match, ended what was a dominating performance for the home team.
Lutz led the way with 10 kills, Bugg tallied 27 assists, and freshman libero Halland McKenna poured in 18 digs.
The Cardinal will take its seven set winning-streak into its Pac-12 opener against Bay Area rival California when it begins conference play on Tuesday. The match is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks' Bay Area channel.
"I think we're headed in the right direction; I think our team can sense it," Dunning said. "Our confidence is really good every year. When you're on the rise, it feels good, and I think that's the way we feel right now. We have leadership and we have a lot of experience, and so when we come up against the good Pac-12 teams, I think we're going to respond."
Men's water polo
Redshirt junior Adam Abudlhamid netted four goals to lead the fourth-ranked Stanford men's water polo team to an 11-4 victory over seventh-ranked Long Beach State Saturday night at Avery Aquatic Center as the Cardinal advanced to the semifinals of the Kap7 NorCal Invitational.
In a matchup between two of the top four teams in this week's Collegiate Water Polo Association poll, No. 4 Stanford will meet No. 2 USC at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday at Avery Aquatic Center in the second semifinal. Top-ranked UCLA will face No. 3 California at 10:50 a.m. in the other semifinal.
The Cardinal opened an early lead against Long Beach State as Abdulhamid followed a BJ Churnside goal with three-straight scores to give the Cardinal a 4-0 halftime lead.
Stanford had held its opponents (Brown, Santa Clara, Long Beach State) scoreless for nearly 51 straight minutes (50:54) before the 49ers scored 1:06 into the third quarter.
Stanford responded as Marco Stanchi finished a strong offensive possession with a wrap-around goal from behind his back to give the Cardinal a 5-1 advantage.
Sophomore goalie Oliver Lewis recorded his first career shutout, BJ Churnside scored three goals and the Stanford men's water polo team topped Santa Clara, 18-0, Saturday morning to open play in the Kap7 NorCal Invitational at Avery Aquatic Center.
Jackson Kimbell scored 19 seconds into the contest and the Cardinal never looked back as five others each scored twice: Adam Warmoth, Reid Chase, Justin Roberto, Sam Pfeil and redshirt freshman Harrison Enright.