On Saturday, #9 Stanford Women’s Volleyball fell to #3 Louisville at home by a final score of 3-1 (26-24, 27-25, 14-25, 25-13). Claire Chaussee led the way in Louisville with 19 kills and 4 digs while Aiko Jones had 12 kills, 4 digs and 8 blocks. Kendall Kipp (15 kills, 4 digs, and 4 blocks) was Stanford’s best player. Louisville improves to 9-1 overall while Stanford drops to 5-3.
“Well, I mean the first two sets were like two good teams,” the Stanford head coach said. Kevin Hambly said after the game. “They executed a bit better than us down the home stretch and then it happens when good teams sometimes play like one of them comes off and understands stuff like we did in the third and we we separated a bit and they did the same. They put a lot of pressure on us and they responded very well. So, I mean they outdid us. There’s a reason they were a final four team last year. Because they can execute at a high level and they have great pins and great arms and they executed us in the game.
Stanford took a 15-13 lead in the first set. Kipp led the way at Stanford with 5 kills while McKenna Vicini had a few blocks. Louisville would respond to go up 19-18 as the set continued to be a back-and-forth affair. Stanford had more attack errors and service errors, not playing as cleanly as needed.
After being killed by Elia Rubin for Stanford, it was a 23-22 lead for Louisville, which took time. Louisville would then get a set point before Stanford responded to tie it 24-24 after back-to-back wins from Kipp and Rubin. Louisville would go on to win the set 26-24 with Elia Rubin and Sami Francois had consecutive attack errors. The first set lived up to the hype.
“Yeah we definitely had good momentum coming off the road in those games and it’s tough when we haven’t played so many home games and so we’ve talked a lot about our fight and played with that chip on our shoulder,” Stanford sophomore Miner Kami said. “Especially when we’re playing outside in these crowded gyms and so for us it’s about finding the same fight and the same consistency and the same execution when we’re at home instead of being relaxed and having fun. to be more comfortable in our own gym And so Louisville, of course, they’re a great team, they were in the last four last year, but for us, we had a game plan and we didn’t. ‘ve simply not executed.
The second set was another battle as Louisville led 15-14 before going up 17-14, forcing a timeout from Stanford. Stanford would respond to tie it 23-23 after a fine assist from Rubin. It was another barn burner of a set.
Much like the first set, Louisville found a way to win the second set, this time by a score of 27-25. It was tied 25-25, but Louisville found a way to score the big points in critical time. Stanford was now trailing 2-0. At this point in the game, Chaussee led Louisville with 11 kills while Kipp led Stanford with 9 kills. Both players were doing a great job leading their teams.
“I think honestly it was about points just leading up to these tight points at the end,” Miner said of why they fell short in the big points. “I think for us it was one or two points, just that things weren’t executing, balls weren’t covering or things weren’t picking up earlier in the set that came back to bite us at the end.”
Stanford came out with a lot of fire in the third set, jumping to a 13-8 lead. They were playing with serious motivation, not wanting to get swept home. Stanford would then rally four straight points to go up 17-8, forcing Louisville to ask for time.
Stanford would finish the third set strong to win 25-14. Truly a dominating performance from Stanford as Caitie Baird had the set-clinching kill. Kipp had two kills near the very end of the set. It was now a 2-1 lead at Louisville.
“Yeah, again, I think it’s all about the execution for us,” Miner said. “Just block and be very aggressive and play like we know how to play and not wait for them to make mistakes for us. So I think those two sets saw you more of that fight and that consistency that we have to show.
In the fourth set, Louisville returned the favor, taking a 12-5 lead. This forced Stanford to ask for time. Stanford was in serious trouble, having to find a way to regain some of the momentum it had in the third set.
Rather than mount a comeback, Stanford ended up falling decisively in the fourth set 25-13. Louisville did a great job of bouncing back from a tough third set and not giving Stanford a chance for a comeback in the fifth set.
“Serving and passing were pretty even in set one and set two,” Hambly said when asked about the lopsided third and fourth sets. “And then in the third set we put them in a lot of trouble passing and in the fourth set they put us in a lot of trouble passing. That was the difference. I think they loosened up a bit and they put a little more pressure on us on serve and we didn’t respond very well, then in the third set we put a little more pressure on them on serve and the got mixed up and the same thing, they didn’t respond very well. I mean, you saw them pull their All-American on the outside because we pulled her out of the game with a good serve. But, we obviously didn’t support it long enough.
All in all, this match was a real battle that could have gone either way. The first two sets were close and went Louisville’s way while the third and fourth sets were skewed in favor of either team. Ultimately, Louisville just found a way to earn the big points, which Stanford was able to do in its previous two games at No. 3 Minnesota and No. 2 Nebraska.
“It was a better game defensively than offensively for both teams,” Hambly explained. “I think both teams let go. For example, we escaped on third and they escaped on fourth, but mostly it was under .200 for most of the game. Yeah, they’re at .222 because they got really loose. But, it felt like a defensive game. It was like a big block and a good defensive game and they had fourteen blocks and we had ten. So I think it was physical it was good they’re not big but they’re really physical and I think they did a phenomenal job defending us and I think we did the same backward. It was more about the fact that if there was no service pressure, they could come loose. And how we did, you know?
While this game didn’t go Stanford’s way, they know what this non-conference season is all about. It’s about playing as hard as possible and preparing as much as possible for the NCAA Tournament. Stanford wishes they had a better start, but they recognize that December is when they really need to be at their best and they hope this tough schedule helps them achieve that goal.
“Our goal with the schedule is to put ourselves in a position to host,” Hambly said of the schedule. “So with our schedule, I think it’s the second toughest schedule in the country. So being 5-3 right now is disappointing. We think maybe we should be better, but that’s the way it is. But the most important thing for us is that we have seen the teams that we need to win the tournament and that will give us the opportunity to work on the things that we need and that is why we are playing this schedule. We know what we have to do against these guys to be better, we know what we have to do against Minnesota, we know what we have to do against Texas, we just have to work really hard for the next bit to make it happen.
“Yeah, I feel like that calendar is pretty invaluable to us,” Miner added. “I mean, we’ve been tested by literally the top four teams in the country and so for us at the end of the year when we go into the NCAA tournament, we know the best of the best that we’re going to see and we know what what we’re working towards when we lose matches like this And so, again, just take the keys to these matches, all of these matches, and use them to hopefully give us some momentum towards the Pac -12 and possibly the end of the season.
Although a lot depends on how the schedule has gone, Stanford are a bit of an anomaly right now in that they are 0-2 at home and 5-0 in real road games. . Stanford hopes to find a way to bring that road warrior mentality to their home games and start seeing success on The Farm.
“Yeah, I think for us it’s about carrying that chip on our shoulder and fighting back when we know we’re in a gym where everyone’s cheering for us and having the same kind of mentality and just sort of of consistency and focus and attention to detail that we have on the road,” Miner said. “When we know we have to perform and just take that when we’re in our gym when we have our own fans and all this here.”
Next up for Stanford is the Pac-12 game. They’ll open things up on the road in Cal on Wednesday. This match will begin at 8:00 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks.
“We have to focus on that, it’s like we have to improve the next two days and work on the things that we talked about and then we have to go and play against Cal,” Hambly said of the start of the Pac game. -12. “It’s always fun to play against Cal and we always get the best out of them. They’re always good against us. And it’s always a tough game. So it should be a great game for us.
“Yeah, it’s always super exciting,” Miner added when asked about starting Pac-12 games. “It’s almost a bit surreal that it’s finally here and that pre-season is over. It looks like it’s just started, but I think for us it will be another chance to play on the road, of course. , it’s a rivalry game, so we’re still super excited for that and so we’re just going to take this loss, take it, just learn from it and try to be more consistent and just focus on our game.”
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