2-0 | Cardinal Traps Gophers

by Glenn on September 1, 2015

2-0 🌲❤️ #gostanford

A photo posted by Stanford Women’s Volleyball (@stanfordwvb) on

I thought the second match of the season would be an interesting challenge for Stanford. The Cardinal beat Texas A&M pretty soundly in the season opener for both teams, but I expected that Minnesota would be a tougher team. While we were waiting for the Stanford/Minnesota match, though, Texas A&M played Minnesota for the latter’s season opener. The Aggies beat Minnesota in five sets.

Stanford’s second match was available as a live stream, but I couldn’t make it work. I would get a few seconds of action before the video froze. It was great to know that Stanford beat Minnesota in three straight sets, but it was deeply unsatisfying to read a play-by-play instead of watching the action. This is about all I saw of the game, but maybe all I needed to know.

Anyway, here’s how Stanford won:

Stanford Minnesota
37 Kills 37
+3 6 Aces 3
+7 15 Blocks 8
Gifts from Opp.
+6 11 Attack Errors (Less Blocks) 5
0 Opponent Ball Handling Errors 0
+3 6 Opponent Service Errors 3
75 TOTAL 53

What we learned from this second match:
1. While Stanford is ailing temporarily with its middle attack, Tami Alade and Ivana Vanjak are blocking well and other things are going well for the team. The Cardinal outserved and outblocked Minnesota and made fewer errors. You need offense, but these other areas are mitigating fators.

2. The team has three phenomenal outside hitters in Jordan Burgess, Brittany Howard, and Hayley Hodson. Game 1 was no fluke. Brittany Howard struggled at the beginning of this match and her hitting percentage wasn’t as high in this match (.185) as it was in the first match (.478), but this will even out. Burgess is hitting .385 over the two matches and Hodson’s .231 is going to get better.

After this weekend, Stanford remains number two in the rankings by AVCA coaches (source here). What’s interesting about this poll (August 31, 2015) is that of the 334 teams from the 32 conferences in Division I volleyball, eight Pac-12 teams (in bold) are in the top 25.

1 Penn State
2 Stanford
3 Texas
T-4 Florida
T-4 Nebraska
6 Illinois
7 Washington
8 Southern California
9 Colorado State
10 Kentucky
11 Oregon
12 BYU
13 Wisconsin
14 Florida State
15 Arizona State
16 Arizona
17 Hawai’i
18 North Carolina
19 Michigan State
20 Western Kentucky
21 Colorado
22 Ohio State
23 San Diego
24 Purdue

The Pac-12 is a highly competitive conference, but it’s interesting to see some dominant programs from across the country near the top of this list, year in and year out. Take a look at the make-up of the U.S. Women’s National Team that is currently competing in Japan in the World Cup and the first two spots for the 2016 Olympics in Rio and see where they went to school.

Alisa Glass (Penn State)
Megan Easy (Penn State)
Christa Dietzen (Penn State)

Kayla Banwarth (Nebraska)
Jordan Larson-Burbach (Nebraska)
Kelsey Robinson (Nebraska)

Lauren Gibbemeyer (Minnesota)
Tori Dixon (Minnesota)

Kim Hill (Pepperdine)

Foluke Akinradewo (Stanford)

Natalie Hagglund (USC)

Molly Kreklow (Missouri)

Karsta Lowe (UCLA)

Next weekend, No. 2 Stanford plays No. 1 Penn State. Last year, Penn State lost this early game to Stanford and then beat them in the semi-final to end Stanford’s season. It will be interesting to see how these teams match up this year. Penn State is without its star setter. But Stanford’s middle is not the same.  I wonder if Merete Lutz will be back. That will instantly strengthen three of Stanford’s rotations.