Musings from Maples: WVB vs. Oregon State

Stanford breezed through its match against Oregon State at 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/Cassidy Lichtman
L – Gabi Ailes

Oregon State Starters

OH – Jill Sawatzky
OH – Kristin Murray
MB – Lexie Rathgeber
MB – Bree Knitter
S – K.C. Walsh
OPP – Rachel Rourke
L – Ashley Evans

Stanford defeats Oregon State, 3-0 (30-18, 30-19, 30-20)

•  Alix Klineman started off the match in dominating fashion, accounting for three of Stanford's first four points as the home team bolted to a 4-0 lead thanks to two kills and a solo block by the precocious freshman. The 6'5" outside hitter then went behind the service line two points later and returned to her normal topspin jump serve, unleashing bullets that gave the Beavers trouble all night long. Her first serve resulted in an ace and she served two more points to push the lead to 8-1. Klineman's exceptional play early on set the tone and Stanford was never truly threatened throughout the night.

•  The passing was a bit inconsistent again tonight. At times, the ball was perfectly placed for Bryn Kehoe to consider all offensive options and other times, all she could do was set the left or the pipe (back-row attack) because that was the only choice available to her. However, with Klineman hitting at an All-American level (15 kills and four errors on 24 swings for a .458 hitting percentage) and fellow left-side attacker Cynthia Barboza posting solid numbers (eight kills at a .273 rate), the Cardinal could afford a few bad passes. Overall, Kehoe did a great job distributing the ball and getting the middles involved whenever she could; the team finished with a .435 hitting percentage

•  Klineman lodged her fifth double-double of the season and put forth another great effort against Oregon State, tallying 15 kills, 10 digs, three blocks, and two aces. Combine that with her performance against Oregon last night (16 kills, .324 hitting percentage, six blocks, and five digs) and another Pac-10 Player of the Week honor wouldn't be out of the question.

•  Senior Franci Girard had one of her finest matches in a Cardinal uniform tonight, as she and Kehoe were connecting very well out of the middle. The 6-1 quick hitter out of Brooklyn (N.Y.) got her kills in a variety of ways and used a combination of off-speed shots and hard-hit slams to keep the Beaver defense guessing. In total, she put away 11 balls at a .526 clip and added a tied her personal best in digs with five.

•  Freshman Cassidy Lichtman and sophomore Janet Okogbaa saw extensive court time tonight against Oregon State and the duo made the most out of their playing opportunity. Lichtman was apart of the starting rotation in Games 1 and 3, subbing in for opposite Erin Waller in the back-row, while Okogbaa replaced Foluke Akinradewo in the middle during the final two stanzas. The duo did not disappoint, as the versatile first year finished with five digs and a career-high three aces and the high-flying quick hitter registered six kills and no errors on a .667 hitting percentage.

•  Tonight marked the return of redshirt sophomore Alex Fisher. The Menlo Park (Calif.) native last appeared in a Stanford uniform on September 27 in a home win over USC. The 6-1 outside hitter replaced Waller on the right side in the first and third games and ended the night with two kills to her name. Fisher is an important player for Stanford to have back because her versatility will allow her to play either on the left or the right, depending on which starter is struggling, and having that type of depth will be key to advancing far into the NCAA Tournament.

•  Despite finishing with only six aces to five service errors, Stanford's performance from behind the service line was exceptional. Whether it was the missiles coming from Barboza or Klineman or the deceptively difficult-to-handle floaters from Girard, Kehoe, Lichtman, or Waller, the Beavers had a hard time getting their serve receive game under control and that was a big reason why the visitors only hit .173 on the night.

•  Favorite Play of the Night: In the first game, Oregon State's Rachel Rourke served the ball to Lichtman, who shanked the pass way right. Kehoe hustles after it, nearly colliding with the fans sitting in the front row, and Girard, who trailed the setter, has to shovel the ball over. The Beavers get a free pass to set up their offense and middle blocker Lexi Rathgeber attempts to score on her slide attack, only to have it meet the hands of Barboza and go straight down for a Cardinal point.

•  If Oregon State starter K.C. Walsh looks familiar, it's because she is the youngest sister of former Cardinal great Kerri Walsh, who was a four-time First Team AVCA All-American playing under Don Shaw during her time on The Farm from 1996 to 1999. The 1999 AVCA Co-Player of the Year is now famous for being one-half of the best volleyball tandem on the beach, as she and partner Misty May have teamed up to dominate the domestic and international beach circuit. However, K.C. and Kerri aren't the only exceptional athletes in the Walsh family – sister Kelli played volleyball at Long Beach State, brother Marte was a basketball player at Cal Poly, mother Margie suited up on the volleyball court for Santa Clara, and father Tim made it to the minor leagues in baseball, playing for the Oakland A's farm system.

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