Musings from Maples: WVB vs. BYU

Stanford had to play yet another ranked team in the title game of the Stanford Invitational on Saturday night. After uncharacteristically dropping the first game, the Cardinal went on to handily defeat #9 BYU, 3-1. Above and beyond a simple recap of Women's Volleyball matches, we present some insightful observations, opinions and notes from the floor of Maples Pavilion.

Stanford Starters

OH – Alix Klineman
OH – Cynthia Barboza
MB – Foluke Akinradewo
MB – Franci Girard
S – Bryn Kehoe
OPP – Erin Waller
L – Gabi Ailes

Brigham Young Starters

OH – Chelsea Goodman
OH – Bryn Porter
MB – Rachel Dyer
MB – Ashton Hansen
S – Kiana Rogers
OPP – Erica Lott
L – Annie Pinegar

Stanford defeats Brigham Young, 3-1 (28-30, 30-18, 30-22, 30-26)

• After last season's shocking four-game road loss to Brigham Young, Stanford did not need any extra motivation to get fired up for the final match of the Stanford Invitational. In the opening stanza, the Cardinal played with passion and purpose, bolting to an early 11-5 lead thanks to the dangerous duo of outside hitter Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo. After a Barboza bomb made the score 14-8, the fans at Maples were settling in for another typical Cardinal slaughter. However, with Akinradewo rotating out of the lineup, BYU mounted a furious comeback that left the home team – and crowd – stunned. Behind the strong serving of Eric Lott and Bryn Porter, the Cougars clawed their way back and then some, going on an incredible 14-2 run to end up with a sizeable 22-16 lead. Stanford eventually snapped out of its funk and even managed to tie the game at 27-27 on a kill by Barboza. Despite the resurgence of the Cardinal squad, the Cougars dug deep and toughed out the 30-28 victory.

• Towards the end of Game One, mounting service errors effectively killed any chance of a Stanford victory, as defensive specialist Jessica Fishburn, setter Bryn Kehoe, and outside hitter Alix Klineman either sent the ball long or into the net. Klineman's serving blunder was particularly painful because it came right after the Barboza kill that energized Maples and also knotted the score up at 27-27. While there was no telling if Stanford would have won the point had Klineman kept the ball in, points awarded to the other team without them having to break a sweat is a big no-no, especially at such a critical juncture.

• The 14-2 BYU run in the first game occurred with Akinradewo sitting on the bench and it demonstrated just how dominant of a player she can be, both on the offensive and defensive end. Out of the 118 total points Stanford amassed in the four-game victory, almost a quarter of them were scored by Akinradewo herself, thanks to 21 kills and eight blocks. Breaking it down even further, 68 points were produced with Akinradewo on the court, compared to only 50 scored when she was rotated out.

• Game Two finished out like how the first game should have – with Stanford toying with Brigham Young and breezing to a 12-point victory. The biggest reason for the turnaround? The Cardinal's block took over and completely shut down the Cougar attack. It didn't matter if quarterback Kiana Rogers was trying to set the left, the middle, or the right, the ball would not go BYU's way, as the team hit -.022 in that stanza. The home team collected eight (yes, you read correctly!) blocks in Game Two alone. Opposite Erin Waller and middle blocker Franci Girard accounted for four blocks apiece to lead the way, while Akinradewo pitched in three rejections. At the end of the match, Stanford totaled 15.5 blocks, with Akinradewo turning away eight attacks to pace all players.

• Game Three was very competitive to start off, as neither team was able to take much of a lead until the midway point when Stanford began to assert its offensive dominance to pull away for the easy 30-22 win. Tallying only four kills on a .050 hitting percentage through the first two games, Klineman picked up her game considerably and tacked on six kills on a .308 clip to lead the Cardinal charge. Kehoe directed the team to a scorching .457 clip, with Akinradewo and Girard sporting identical .667 hitting percentages to top the team.

• One of the ways Klineman collected her kills was the back row attack, which has become a reliable and consistent weapon for Stanford head coach John Dunning. Hitting from the 3-meter line gives Kehoe another option on offense, especially important so the opposing blockers do not camp out on the left side every time she receives a poor pass. Both Barboza and Klineman can put the ball away with authority or dink it over the block out of the back, making it an attack that is very difficult to defend against. Out of the 27 kills recorded by Barboza and Klineman against BYU, 10 of them were out of the back row.

• While Games Two and Three were out of reach for Brigham Young, the final stanza was a different story. The Cougars were able to maintain a high level play on the offensive end, enabling them to stay toe-to-toe with the home team. While Rachel Dyer was effective out of the middle and Erica Lott was crushing balls on the right side, it was the performance of Chelsea Goodman at the antennas that really kept the game close. The outside hitter tallied a whopping nine kills on an impressive .438 hitting percentage to counter Stanford's big three of Akinradewo, Barboza, and Klineman.

• Kehoe finished tonight with a season-high 61 assists and is drawing closer to breaking Wendy Rush's school record of 5,003 career assists. After handing out 43 assists in the sweep of Cal Poly last night, the 5'11" playmaker has taken sole possession of second place on the Stanford all-time assists list, passing Carrie Feldman's mark of 4,461 assists. Including the numbers from tonight's winning effort, Kehoe's career total now stands at 4,550 assists.

Stanford Invitational All-Tournament Team

Kylie Atherstone, Cal Poly, OPP
Cynthia Barboza, Stanford, OH
Rachel Dyer, Brigham Young, MB
Chelsea Goodman, Brigham Young, OH
Bryn Kehoe, Stanford, S
Ali Waller, Cal Poly, OH

Stanford Invitational MVP: Foluke Akinradewo, Stanford, MB

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