Sports

The road is no longer so bad for Pac-12 volleyball teams

 

The No. 12 Stanford women's volleyball team hits the road for its final regular season road trip at Arizona State on Friday, and at Arizona on Sunday.

The Sun Devils are winless at home (0-6) this season, which means spit when it comes to Friday, since, hey, it's yet another crazy year in the conference.

The Cardinal (17-7, 11-5 Pac-12) currently finds itself tied with Oregon for third in the conference, a game behind co-leaders Washington and UCLA.

Stanford took both matches from the Huskies but lost twice to the Bruins. UCLA hosts Oregon and Oregon State and Washington is at Colorado and Utah this weekend.

The Bruins travel to Washington for their only meeting of the regular season over the final weekend.

The Pac-12 is again playing out with surprising results. Stanford dropped consecutive home matches to Utah and Arizona (8-8 in conference play), for example, and the Bruins were swept by the Wildcats in addition to losing to Washington State at home and at Colorado.

The Huskies have dropped home matches to the Cougars and Oregon, in addition to Stanford.

The top four teams in the conference each have better winning percentages on the road than at home. The Ducks are unbeaten away from Eugene and have taken seven home losses. The Cardinal is 7-5 at home and 10-2 away from Maples.

Washington is 14-1 outside Seattle and UCLA is 16-3 outside of Westwood. Never before has such an oddity taken place in a conference that prides itself of holding home court advantage.

In the previous four years, Stanford lost a total of three home matches, twice to USC and once in the NCAA tournament. The Cardinal had never lost more than four home matches (twice) in a season before now.

You'd find similar results at Washington and UCLA. Such is the charm of the Pac-12 Conference, where predictability gets turned on its head and up means sideways and down is a term better used for black jack.

Three of the nation’s top-16 blocking teams in the country are in the Pac-12, with Washington State and Stanford leading the way at No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, the Cougars averaging 3.39 blocks per set and the Cardinal at 3.33. Washington ranks 16th with a 2.78 average.

A pair of Cardinal players are also in the top 15 in the category, including Inky Ajanaku (8th, 1.52) and Audriana Fitzmorris (13th, 1.46).

Men's golf

Stanford's Director of Men's Golf Conrad Ray announced recently that Ashwin Arasu and Nate Menon each signed a National Letter of Intent to continue their academic and athletic careers at Stanford.

Arasu (San Diego) and Nate Menon (Wyomissing, Pa.) will join the Cardinal roster in the fall of 2017.

"We are excited to welcome Ashwin Arasu and Nate Menon to the Stanford golf family," said Ray. "Both student-athletes represent the 'top of the class' in combining academics and athletics in the country. We see both players having the ability to make an immediate impact on our team as freshmen but also having huge upside when it comes to their potential development during their time on The Farm."

Men's gymnastics

The Cardinal signed three impressive prospects with Andrew Bitner, Blake Sun and Bryan Perla set to join the program for the 2017-18 year.

"This class is packed with talent and we are very fortunate to come away with three top tier prospects,” Stanford coach Thom Glielmi said. “The USA coaches for the junior gymnasts are doing a phenomenal job in preparing our young talent to transition into the collegiate and senior ranks."

Bryan Perla (West Boylston, Mass.) is the 2016 U.S. Junior Olympics national horizontal bar champion. He also finished 10th on vault.

Andrew Bitner (Buford Ga.) is U.S. Junior National Team member who recently competed at the Pan American Games in Bolivia, where he was crowned the still rings champion, garnered the silver medal on pommel horse and took the bronze medal in the all-around.

Blake Sun (San Antonio) finished sixth on floor exercise and second on parallel bars at the 2016 USA Junior Olympic Championships.

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