#2 Stanford (25-1, 17-0 Pac-12) at #20 Washington (18-9, 10-7) — Sunday, 1 PM, Pac-12 WA/Bay Area or https://pac-12.com/womens-volleyball/event/2018/11/18/stanford-washington with login.
The Huskies loss at Stanford on Oct. 13 marked the beginning of a brutal 5-game losing streak, which would go on to include losses at unranked Utah and Colorado. But the Huskies have responded with a 5-game winning streak since, with ranked wins over Arizona, USC, and UCLA, putting the Huskies back in the top 20 and into a tie for fourth in the conference.
Stanford is as dominant of a team as volleyball’s had the past few years. The loss at BYU was by just a few points in five sets, and the margins they’ve won by since then against other elite competition (Minnesota, Penn State, Texas twice, and then a Pac-12 schedule) are unlike anything the Pac-12 has seen in years.
That said, they are beatable. When UW faced Stanford a month ago, the match was in Palo Alto — where UW has had a long run of futility — and during a stretch where Stanford was playing some of their most dominant volleyball all season. Now, Stanford has looked a least a bit vulnerable, having to win a fairly competitive 4-set match at WSU on Friday, with a narrow escape of Colorado at home recently as well.
Washington’s playing a lot better than they were last time, too. The sweep at UCLA last weekend, in particular, was by far the best serving and defense this team has played all year. With an extremely young but highly touted roster, it seems somewhat logical that the team could get notably better over the course of the season.
Keep an eye on both team’s secondary outside hitters. UW freshman Claire Hoffman, inserted as Washington’s OH2 a few weeks ago, will get her first look at a new team, which can often lead to either a fantastic performance or a miserable one, with no experience to draw on but also less of a scouting report available for the opponent. Meanwhile, Stanford sophomore OH2 Meghan McClure has been one of the most improved players in the Pac-12, giving the Cardinal a quiet star alongside the junior trio: OH1 Kathryn Plummer, S Jenna Gray, and L Morgan Hentz.
History is on the line as well on Sunday. Dating back to easily the craziest match in UW volleyball history against Oregon late in the 2012 season, the Huskies have defeated each of the last 11 top-8 teams to come to Hec Ed. 4 of those 11 times, the victim has been Stanford (oddly enough, the only time Stanford has won in Seattle during that stretch was 2016, when they were #9). Many of the wins were also with UW highly-ranked, but a few in particular were impressive upsets:
- Nov. 26, 2014: #5 Washington spoils #1 Stanford’s bid for an undefeated season in the final week, knocking off the Cardinal to celebrate Krista Vansant’s Senior Night in front of a Pac-12 record 8,646 fans.
- Oct. 31, 2015: #5 Washington beats an undefeated #1 for the second year in a row, putting an emphatic end to USC’s sparkling start with a sweep to avenge an earlier loss in LA that had been UW’s first loss.
- Nov. 8, 2017: On an emotional night as Krista Vansant became just the fifth UW player of any sport (second for volleyball) to have her jersey raised to the rafters of Hec Ed, #13 Washington won their first match of this streak without being in the top 10 themselves, handing #2 Stanford their only Pac-12 loss of the season.