Recap: #5 Stanford WVB sweeps #10 Minnesota & #15 Ohio State
On Friday and Saturday, #5 Stanford women’s volleyball completed a sweep of #10 Minnesota and #15 Ohio State in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge at Maples Pavilion. On Friday, Stanford defeated Ohio State 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-23) and on Saturday, Stanford defeated Minnesota 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 25-16, 25-16). Stanford improves to 6-1 overall after the weekend. Ohio State now stands at 3-4 overall while Minnesota now stands at 3-3.
In the victory over Ohio State, it was Caitie Baird who really carried the load for the Cardinal with 15 kills, 5 service aces, 3 digs, and 2 blocks. Baird was fantastic and really lifted the Cardinal with Kendall Kipp having a bit of an off night. Elia Rubin was also solid against the Buckeyes with 9 kills, 2 service aces, 3 digs, and 1 block. As for Kami Miner, she was excellent with 34 assists, 4 digs, 2 blocks, and 2 kills.
“I mean, I thought we served and passed really well,” Stanford head coach Kevin Hambly said after the match against Ohio State. “Like, I think we passed nails actually and we were in system all night. I think serving-wise, we obviously put a lot of pressure on them. Like we had 13 aces or whatever and they were out of system. At one point they had one perfect pass in two sets. Like you guys don’t see those numbers. So I thought we pressured them in that way. Made a lot more errors than we want to offensively. Definitely not as clean as we typically are. We still hit .300 at the end of it, but we made more errors than we typically do and we want to. I think we have things to clean up. We’ll get better as we go. But, it’s nice to get a win against this team and then we gotta get ready for Minnesota, who is gonna be pretty good.”
Stanford pretty much was in control the whole way against Ohio State, though the first set was close at the start as both teams were tied 13-13. After that, Stanford started to pull away as a kill by Baird followed by an attack error by Ohio State made it 15-13. After a kill by Rubin and a ball handling error by Ohio State, it was a 20-16 lead for Stanford. Ohio State would narrow the gap 21-19 after an attack error by Rubin, but that would be the closest they would get in the set. Stanford finished the set out on a 4-0 run to win 25-19 as Sami Francis and Caitie Baird got a pair of kills followed by back-to-back service aces by Elia Rubin.
“Very solid,” Hambly said of Baird’s performance. “Did she have a hitting error? Like she seemed, one. I mean, she was really good. Really high. Made good choices. Her and Kami were clicking and I thought she carried us there for a little bit because we didn’t get Kipp going and it’s against Londot. Kipp had to stop Londot, which is a big task for her and she wasn’t in the kind of rhythm that she normally is. But, I think Caitie was pretty good. And so was Sami. I mean, Sami was really good as well.”
The second set was not close as Stanford led 10-5 after a kill by McKenna Vicini and a service ace by Caitie Baird. Rubin then got a kill after which Baird got a service ace to make it 12-5. The Cardinal were cooking with gas at this point. After a service ace by Elena Oglivie, Stanford led 22-14 and from there, they took the set 25-16 as a kill by Sami Francis clinched the set.
“Yeah, we just got them out of system a bunch,” Hambly said of the second set. “We got a bout five aces in that one, scored some easy points. I think Caitie got going a little bit, we got to the middles a little bit more. I dunno. Kinda the same thing. Just wore them down a little bit. And then they came out hot in the third. We had to respond. It was good to see us respond and find a way to win that set. And then get Koko to come out there to hit a couple really good serves was cool, too.”
The third set was a dog fight as Ohio State actually jumped out to a an early 10-5 lead after a service ace by Kaitlyn Hoffman. Stanford would then come storming back to tie it up 14-14 after a kill by Rubin and a service ace by Kipp. Stanford would eventually get a three-point cushion to lead 22-19 after a service ace by Baird and from there win the set 25-23 as a kill by Rubin finished the job.
“Yeah, I think we were really excited,” Miner said of beating the Buckeyes. “I’ve never played Ohio State in my career before, so we were really excited to play them and I think we did a great job. The passers were phenomenal, I was in system the entire night, and then just the service pressure that we were putting on Ohio State consistently for us was really huge. I think we had thirteen aces and I think that’s something we strive to do every game and we were really successful with it the whole night. But I think this is just another match that will be a step towards of course tomorrow night and then building towards the end of the season.”
Switching gears to the match against Minnesota, it was Elia Rubin (17 kills) and Kendall Kipp (16 kills) that led the way for the Cardinal while Kami Miner had 41 assists.The opening set was a battle from the jump as it was tied 5-5 early on. Stanford would however soon gain some separation to lead 12-7 after back-to-back service aces by Anna Pringle, which prompted a Minnesota time out. Stanford continued to remain in front as they led 21-16 after a service ace by Rubin. A kill by Kipp made it a 25-21 opening set victory for the Cardinal. Minnesota hung around a bit, but wasn’t able to threaten after those aces by Pringle.
“It was nice to see us fight and come out,” Hambly said after the match. “We learned some things from the Florida match like we talked about, I think we talked about that. Like we didn’t like the fight. None of us did. Came out [against] Texas obviously fought a little, trying to find ourselves a little bit.
“There’s some moments like today in the second set. I felt like, actually early-midway through the first set we kinda backed off a little bit. And then they took advantage that set and made a run. I mean they were playing great in the second and we kinda backed off and then we turned that back around. That’s what this time of year is about. It’s early in the season is about figuring out who we are as a team, kinda forming who we are, understanding what our identity is, and what it takes to be elite and I think we’re fighting hard for that right now, which is great.”
The second set would be different, though it started very similarly to the first set as it was tied 6-6 after a kill by Miner. Minnesota soon went on a 4-0 run to lead 10-6 as McKenna Wucherer had a back-to-back kills during that stretch. After a kill by Lydia Grote, Minnesota led 17-10. From there it would be a 25-19 second set victory for Minnesota as Wucherer finished the set with back-to-back kills.
The third set was tight early on as it was tied 6-6, but from there Stanford started to take control as they led 9-6 after a service ace from Rubin, a kill by Francis, and a kill by Miner. It was all part of a mini 4-0 run. After an attack error to give Stanford a 14-10 lead, Minnesota called for time, hoping to regroup. However, that wouldn’t work out as Stanford went on to win the set 25-16 following a kill by Baird.
“Yeah, she’s incredible,” Miner said of Baird. “It’s so awesome to have her back after the injury and she’s just so consistent and so reliable and I think that’s my favorite part about playing with her and so I think she plays at that literally every single night and so we can always count on her performance and it showed tonight.”
Stanford jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the fourth set following a service ace by Oglivie that came after a kill by Rubin. After another kill by Rubin, Stanford led 12-6, causing Minnesota to call timeout. The timeout did not help the Gophers as two more errors occurred, making it a 14-6 lead for the Cardinal. Minnesota called for time once more. Minnesota was able to close the gap slightly to make it 19-15 after a kill by Grote, but Stanford responded swiftly, closing out the set on a 6-1 run to win the set 25-16 and the match. Taylor Beaven got a nice service ace in that stretch for the Cardinal while an attack error by Minnesota was the final point.
“We were the aggressor,” Hambly said of the third and fourth sets. “The service line, I think we backed off a little bit on the serves. We had some really unaggressive service errors and then I think we found ourselves a little bit there. Like, got a little loose and went for it. We made a few adjustments, got a little bit better, I think defensively we held them to nine kills, that’s a really good offensive team in both those sets. You gotta win a lot of sets when you hold them under ten kills.”
For Stanford, this was a huge weekend. They swept two highly ranked teams with relative ease. After that loss to Florida, they really do appear to have flipped the switch. The return of Caitie Baird obviously was huge, but on top of that, the team is just playing better. They’re confident and playing like the team that Kevin Hambly thinks they can be.
“Yeah, I think that loss to Florida, we did a lot of, taking an in-depth look at the culture of our team and what we want to show when we’re on the court every night,” Miner said. “And for us it was about I think raising our standards each set that we’re playing and holding ourselves to that and keeping each other accountable and I think we’re building on that each match. I feel like it’s showing and I think that’s something that will continue throughout the season up until the tournament.”
“I think the key was just staying really focused on the task in front of us,” Kipp said of getting the sweep. “Not getting all wrapped up in everything going on around us. All the games and getting ahead of ourselves. I think when we had good leads in matches, we just talked about focusing on the next point and not getting ahead of ourselves on that match. So I think we just stayed really task oriented.”
Up next for Stanford is a home match against Nebraska on Tuesday. That will begin at 6:00 PM PT on ESPN. After a grueling week, the Cardinal are happy to have a day off on Sunday and use Monday for preparation.
“Yeah, I mean it’s tough,” Hambly said of the stretch they’ve had. “I think they’re a little bit banged up right now. They’re tired. Especially after we go to Texas, we go to Rice, we played a lot of matches here in a short time. Four in eight days. That’s a lot. We’ll never do that again, you know. So I think for them, they’re like we got a day off tomorrow. They’ll be excited for that. But I think physically, we did a nice job between matches by not doing too much, not pushing too much with the guys that are playing.”
“It’s a lot physically, but we’re used to it,” Kipp said. “We put in a lot of the work. In preseason we did double days, we’re lifting every day, so I think we’re physically capable of it. We go harder in practice sometimes than we do in these matches. So, I think we handle it well and I also think we have a really balanced offense and just everyone on our team is contributing a lot. So, no one person is having to wear the brunt the whole time. We’re kinda just playing really good team volleyball right now.”
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