That Fifth Act was way too short

by Glenn on December 6, 2015

Friday night was a bad and sad end for a season of Stanford volleyball.

Sixteen seeded teams (of which Stanford was No. 8) each played host to three other teams in two rounds of play to determine which team would make it to regionals. The expectation is that the seeded teams are the ones that move forward. Inevitably, though, there are upsets, which aren’t a big deal unless it’s your team being upset.

I wasn’t sure how far Stanford would go in the playoffs, but felt certain that they would at least get to the Sweet 16 at regionals, where I expected they would play Kansas and, if that went well, a rematch with USC. (See entire bracket here.)

In the first round, Stanford played New Mexico State.

There were some troubling signs for the Cardinal early in the first set (Three aces in a row? Yikes.), but otherwise Stanford swept the Aggies.

Stanford New Mexico St.
Offense
+14 45 Kills 31
-2 2 Aces 4
Defense
+7 8 Blocks 1
Gifts from Opp.
+5 10 Attack Errors (Less Blocks) 5
-1 2 Blocking Errors 3
0 Opponent Ball Handling Errors 0
-1 8 Opponent Service Errors 9
75 TOTAL 50

Some positive signs from this match:

1. Stanford’s higher-than-average .415 hitting efficiency (versus .279 on the season) coupled with holding New Mexico State to a lower-than-average hitting efficiency of .133 (New Mexico hit .283 on the season while Stanford held their opponents to .205) looked promising for future contests.

2. Stanford had balanced scoring, with 13 kills each for Merete Lutz and Hayley Hodson and 12 for Brittany Howard.

3. And, Jordan Burgess’ physical condition seemed to be continuing on the upswing as she contributed 5 kills with no errors at a .357 rate.

Somehow, though, things fell apart against the undersized, but high-performing, Loyola Marymount, who beat Colorado State in their first round match.

1. The Cardinal service return wasn’t there as LM put down 7 seven aces.

2. LM outhit Stanford .337 to .212.

3. LM hustled on defense, outdigging Stanford 50 to 32.

After dropping the first two sets, it looked like Stanford had enough in the tank to power back. They were up most of the way in the third set with some three- and four-point spreads and you took heart. But, in the end, Loyal Maymount fought hard for a victory.

Stanford Loyola Marymount
Offense
-16 35 Kills 51
-4 3 Aces 7
Defense
+1 9 Blocks 8
Gifts from Opp.
+1 5 Attack Errors (Less Blocks) 5
+1 1 Opponent Ball Handling Errors 0
+3 10 Opponent Service Errors 7
65 TOTAL 78

As a most distant observer, this was a very disappointing finish to the season. Stanford is one of three seeded teams not to make it to the Regionals. Hawaii beat No. 10 Texas A & M and Illinois knocked out No. 15 Louisville. I suppose my job at this point is to root for the two remaining Pac–12 teams, No. 1-seeded USC and No. 5 Washington. But I’m not sure.

I’ve had a lot of joy, especially the last two years, watching Madi Bugg, Brittany Howard, and Jordan Burgess (my wife’s favorite) play.

Next fall, Lord willing and life/schedule permitting, we’ll make a road trip to Corvallis and/or Eugene to watch Stanford play on the road. But we will definitely miss this: