Musings from Maples: WVB vs. Oregon

Stanford beat another ranked team when Oregon came to Maples last night. 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/Jessica Fishburn
L – Gabi Ailes

Oregon Starters

OH – Sonja Newcombe
OH – Gorina Maricic
MB – Karen Waddington
MB – Neticia Enesi
S – Nevena Djordjevic
OPP – Heather Meyers
L – Katie Swoboda

Stanford defeats Oregon, 3-1 (30-24, 27-30, 30-19, 30-17)

•  Game ball is awarded to Erin Waller, the versatile junior out of Ballwin, Mo. The 6'1" opposite had one of her best overall games in a Cardinal uniform, posting 10 kills on a .450 hitting percentage while adding six digs, four blocks (three solo!), and two aces. However, it was her ability to energize her teammates that won her Player of the Game honors. With Stanford clinging to a slim 15-13 lead, Waller blasted the ball past the Duck's defense for a kill, causing a huge celebration from her teammates. It was from that point on that the home team played with purpose and energy and Waller's on-court demeanor played a huge role in the emotional turnaround. A few points later, she also stepped behind the service line and rattled off seven straight points, including two aces, to put her team firmly in control.

•  When Stanford took to the court tonight, the fans at Maples Pavilion saw a change in the lineup with Alix Klineman and Cynthia Barboza switching places. Normally, Klineman would play the first outside hitter spot with Barboza occupying the second antenna position, but as the whistle blew, it was Barboza who was playing next to setter Bryn Kehoe and quick hitter Foluke Akinradewo with Klineman sandwiched in between Waller and middle blocker Franci Girard. The two had been struggling with their games the past few weeks so perhaps this was an opportunity for head coach John Dunning to switch things up and keep things fresh.

•  Another noticeable change was the types of serves Stanford broke out against Oregon. At the beginning of the season, the Cardinal had a strong core of jump servers in libero Gabi Ailes, Klineman, and Barboza, but tonight, that was reduced to just Barboza. Klineman settled for a standing float serve, while Ailes employed a jump floater. Ailes had abandoned her topspin serve last week in Los Angeles, while this is the first time this season that Klineman did not use her high-velocity jumper. One possible theory behind Klineman's change of serve could be to preserve her stamina. In matches where it would extend to four or five games, Klineman's efficiency at the net would dwindle off as she grew tired. By not having the 6'5" freshman go all out with her serves, she'll be able to conserve her energy for later stretches when the team will need her to finish off rallies.

•  Stanford's block was as formidable as ever against Oregon tonight, as the team registered 15.0 team blocks. In the first game, the Cardinal only made two stuffs, but was getting touching and redirecting many of the attacks. In addition, the Ducks made 11 hitting errors and avoiding the block caused many of the miscues. The blocking picked up considerably in Game 2 and 3 with a combined 11.0 total team blocks, including three consecutive blocks in the beginning of the third stanza that got the team and crowd pumped. Akinradewo tied her season best effort with eight rejections, while Klineman posted a career-high six stuffs.

•  The best play of the night occurred in the second game with Stanford trailing 6-7. With Oregon's Gorana Maricic behind the service line, Klineman took the pass only to place up and out of reach of Kehoe's waiting hands. An Oregon player took a swing at the overpass, though Kehoe blocked the attack back and the offense was reset. Ex-basketball player turned outside hitter Kristen Forristall then took a crack at the ball, only to be denied by Barboza and Akinradewo on the right side to tie up the game.

•  Kehoe is famous for being one of the best jousters in the college game, often turning a potential disaster into a Stanford point. Tonight she showcased her incredible athleticism when a Cardinal overpass made her quickly move laterally to the left side of the court to battle Maricic on the impending attack. Kehoe leapt into the air, positioned her hands where they needed to be, and put the ball down for the point and another yet another joust was won by the senior playmaker.

•  One of the reasons why Ailes is such a great volleyball player is her court awareness. She is constantly paying attention to the play and her position out on the court. After Kehoe dug a Ducks attack, Ailes was getting ready to set the ball overhand. However, she looked down and noticed that she was about to cross the 10-foot line with her right foot so she picked it up and set the left side off of one foot. That type of alert play is difficult for any player to make, let alone a freshman.

•  Barboza had a difficult time on the court against the Ducks despite her double-double of 12 kills and 13 digs. Her passing was off and on and her hitting percentage was just .093 on the night. For much of the match, she wasn't hitting with authority and appeared tentative with a majority of her swings. However, in the fourth game, the 6-1 outside hitter's level of play picked up considerably, especially her serve. With Stanford trailing 5-7, Barboza hammered out two aces in a four-point run that put the home team back in charge. The next time she took her place behind the service line, the junior notched another two aces en route to a five-point spread. The velocity off her front-row attacks also increased dramatically after her long serving runs and she ended up hitting .375 off of four kills, one error, and eight swings.

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