Widgets Magazine

Volleyball tries to get back in win column with matchups against UNC, Duke

The No. 3 Stanford women’s volleyball team (3-1, 0-0 Pac-12) will complete its four-game road trip as it takes on North Carolina (1-4) on Thursday and Duke (4-2) on Friday.

(KAREN AMBROSE HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com)

Halland McKenna (black jersey) has been the Cardinal’s starting libero so far this season and has averaged 2.69 digs per set. The Laguna Beach native rounds out an impressive freshman class that has had to step up in response to the team’s graduation and injury losses. (KAREN AMBROSE HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com)

The team won in four sets against No. 6 Illinois last week before falling to No. 1 Penn State in three sets. The match marked the fourth meeting between the powerhouses in the last three years. Although Stanford defeated Penn State in five sets on The Farm during the regular season last year, the Nittany Lions have successfully sent the Cardinal packing in the last two NCAA tournaments. The loss dropped Stanford to third in the nation in the latest AVCA poll, with Florida claiming the No. 2 spot.

The Cardinal will look to rebound this week in the Tar Heel State, first taking on North Carolina in Chapel Hill. UNC entered the season ranked No. 7 in the country. However, the Tar Heels quickly dropped out of the top 25 with losses to No. 6 USC, No. 9 BYU, No. 11 Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Led by fifth-year outside hitter Leigh Andrew (2.81 kills per set), the Tar Heels will be looking for a marquee bounce-back win against the Cardinal in their home opener.

Meanwhile, Duke enters its matchup with Stanford at 4-2, with losses coming against Long Beach State and No. 22 Kansas. The Blue Devils managed to take a set off the Cardinal last season during the Stanford Invitational, before eventually losing the match in four sets. The team’s attack runs through senior outside hitter Emily Sklar, who averages a team-high 3.38 kills per set. Middle Leah Meyer has been equally impressive, with a .427 hitting percentage that ranks her at 38th in the country as just a freshman.

Stanford’s defense and serve receive, anchored by defensive specialists Halland McKenna and Sarah Benjamin, will need to recover after struggling against Penn State. Two-time Pac-12 Setter of the Year Madi Bugg, playing in her home state, will look to continue her impressive performance after notching 49 and 34 assists in her last two games, respectively.

The team does not lack in depth offensively, with senior outside hitters Brittany Howard and Jordan Burgess leading the charge for the Cardinal with an average of slightly over 3 kills per set. Freshman sensation outside hitter Hayley Hodson, new to the Stanford rotation, leads the team with 3.69 kills per set.  

Stanford will face North Carolina on Thursday at 3 p.m. PT, before taking on Duke on Friday at 3:30 p.m. PT.

Contact Neel Ramachandran at neelr ‘at’ stanford.edu.