Cardinal WVB 1-1 versus Washington

by Glenn on November 15, 2015

Against the University of Washington this season, it’s been the best of times and the worst of times.

When the two teams met last month at Maples, it was an exciting upset for the Cardinal. With the match scored at two sets to one in favor of the Huskies and the Cardinal down 16-11 in the fourth set, it was a remarkable comeback win over a higher-ranked opponent.

The debate in the sometimes uncharitable and dismissive world of volleyball chat boards is whether Stanford actually won or Washington merely lost. Of course, the end of the matter is the same and there are no asterisks on a team’s match record, which is to say that following that match Washington’s record wasn’t :

20-2*

*One of these losses wasn’t really a loss because Stanford really didn’t win the match outright.

A win is a win and a loss is a loss. I’m not sure always it matters for that game how you won or lost, but it certainly tells you a lot about what needs to happen in the future, the only thing you can do something about at that point. Here is how that first match ended in terms of numbers:

Stanford 21 Oct @ Maples Washington
Offense
-4 63 (@ .242) Kills 67 (@.309)
4 Aces 4
Defense
-5 10 Blocks 15
Gifts from Opp.
-1 11 Attack Errors (Less Blocks) 12
+3 4 Opponent Ball Handling Errors 1
+8 12 Opponent Service Errors 4
104 TOTAL 103

What seemed clear from the overall numbers is that the Huskies simply needed to commit fewer service and ball handling errors. Otherwise they out hit and outblocked Stanford.

For Stanford, they needed more offense both in terms of overall numbers and efficiency.

As the Cardinal made its way to the Alaska Airlines Arena (aka Hec Edmundson Pavilion), another victory would mean they would need to improve their hitting and blocking and not count on as many errors.

And then Hayley Hodson didn’t play. The report from the announcers at the match was “an undisclosed practice injury.”

Let’s begin with the delightful:

1. Stanford won the first set outhitting the Huskies .333 to .286.

2. Jordan Burgess had a good night—14 kills at .200. Not spectacular in terms of hitting efficiency, but demonstrating continued improvement on a season where she has had to work hard to get back into her normal form. Good for her.

3. Sidney Brown came in to replace Hodson and had 9 kills at .250. It was great to see her even hit some of the back row shots that Hodson normally hits.

4. Merete Lutz was great on offense—13 kills at .407.

After a first set win, Stanford could neither string points together nor side out efficiently. Here’s how the match ended.

Stanford 12 Nov @ UW Washington
Offense
-8 54 (@ .193) Kills 62 (@.329)
-5 1 Aces 6
Defense
-8 5 Blocks 13
Gifts from Opp.
10 Attack Errors (Less Blocks) 10
-1 0 Opponent Ball Handling Errors 1
-1 5 Opponent Service Errors 6
75 TOTAL 98

I guess it could be seen as less disappointing that at least your team lost to a team that is ranked higher and playing at home, but this would have been a lovely statement victory.

One thing you have to say about Washington is that they sure look good this year after losing Krista Vansant. Last year it felt like she carried Washington.

Clearly other good players simply weren’t shining because the offense ran mostly through Vansant. This year, Lianna Sybeldon has the big numbers. This is especially impressive because she only plays three of the six rotations. One of the debates in volleyball chat world is whether the Huskies have enough “elite” outside hitting to balance out the middle attack and win the National Championship. I guess we’ll see.

***

A highlight from the match was the fact that it was on ESPNU, which provided Paul Sunderlin and Karch Kiraly as informed commentators. It’s fun to watch volleyball through the eyes of great students of the sport.