Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 27, 2013

Stanford women's volleyball tops Cal

Cardinal cross-country runners host annual invitational on Saturday

by Rick Eymer

The Stanford women's volleyball team got off to a good start in Pac-12 Conference play on Wednesday night and will have to maintain that momentum when Arizona State comes for a visit Friday night at 6 p.m.

Carly Wopat and Jordan Burgess each recorded 14 kills to help the seventh-ranked Cardinal beat host California, 20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 28-26 in the conference opener.

Rachel Williams, Megan McGehee and Brittany Howard each added 11 kills as Stanford (1-0, 8-2) won its sixth straight. McGehee started the match in place of Inky Ajanaku, who did not make the trip across the Bay due to an illness. Kyle Gilbert recorded a season-high 29 digs and Madi Bugg had 55 assists for the Cardinal.

There's not much time to relax in the Pac-12. The No. 16 Sun Devils (1-0, 12-1) lost in five sets to Illinois and beat then No. 2 Texas in three sets.

Stanford travels to No. 11 UCLA on Wednesday and to No. 4 USC next Friday. The conference teams are a combined 116-22 through the conference openers. No team has a losing record, nor does any team have more than three losses.

"We have a really strong offense and a lot of big hitters who can put the ball away," Wopat said. "That makes us really hard to defend against. I also thin k our defense is really strong. We get a lot of blocks, a lot of touches, and we're a scrappy team. We get after it and get a lot of digs."

Stanford out-blocked the Golden Bears, 18-4, but also committed 12 service errors to Cal's two. Wopat's seven blocks gives her 503 for her career, moving her past Kerri Walsh into fifth-place all-time in Stanford history.

Women's basketball

Stanford redshirt freshman forward Aly Beebe took a medical retirement Thursday, ending her Cardinal career.

Beebe, a prep standout at St. Joesph's High School in Santa Maria, suffered an ACL injury in July during summer workouts, which would have forced her to miss the upcoming 2013-14 season. It was her third ACL injury, having previously injured the ligament twice while a prep. The latter incident caused her to miss the 2012-13 season at Stanford.

Cross country

The 40th annual Stanford Invitational will be held Saturday at Stanford Golf Course. Besides being Stanford's only home meet this season, it also serves as a showcase for some of the best high school runners in the state.

The college races begin at 9:50 a.m. and are sandwiched among 12 high school races — six each for boys and girls covering five enrollment divisions and seeded races. Also, 33 college teams will be represented.

The college men's race will showcase a Stanford team that won the NCAA West Regional last year and was 16th at the NCAA championships. The Cardinal has five of its top seven returning and comes into the meet ranked No. 20 nationally.

The Cardinal should be led by seniors Erik Olson and Tyler Stutzman, a pair of 2013 track and field All-Americans, and junior Jim Rosa. The meet will serve another purpose for coach Chris Miltenberg, who will evaluate his team's results to help determine the Cardinal's top seven for the rest of the season.

The Stanford women are ranked No. 8 in the country and No. 4 in the Pacific Region. The Cardinal returns its top finisher from its third-place NCAA championship performance of last year, Aisling Cuffe. Also, Jessica Tonn was a 2013 track All-America in the 5,000 meters and returns as well.

Stanford's top five will have a different look without graduated defending Pac-12 champion Kathy Kroeger, the winner of the past three Stanford Invitational races. However, a strong freshman class could make an impact and 800-meter track standouts Justine Fedronic and Amy Weissenbach could score points, as well.

Women's soccer

Nationally No. 2-ranked Stanford opens Pac-12 Conference play at Colorado on Saturday.

The Cardinal (7-0-1) is one of three unbeaten teams in the conference, though Colorado and UCLA have the most wins. Both teams are 8-1 entering the weekend.

Stanford responded to adversity in its 3-2 overtime win at Santa Clara last weekend. The Broncos were leading until the final minute of regulation play, when Courtney Verloo scored to send in into overtime.

Verloo scored all three goals, including the game winner, and was named National and Pac-12 Player of the Week as a result.

Men's soccer

Stanford senior goalkeeper Drew Hutchins is a big reason why Stanford is currently on a four-game winning streak heading into Friday night's nonconference contest at UC Santa Barbara.

Hutchins was named Pac-12 Player of the Week after recording a pair of shutouts last week, 2-0 over College of Charleston and 1-0 over Colgate.

The wins helped extend Stanford's (4-1-1) winning streak to four matches, the team's longest such streak since Sept. 16-26, 2010.

Hutchins made four saves in Friday's win over College of Charleston, being forced to go horizontal multiple times over the final seven minutes to preserve both the win and the shutout. He was called into action twice more in Sunday's shutout of Colgate and has now marshaled the Cardinal defense to three clean sheets over the past four matches.

On the year Hutchins has played all 560 minutes for Stanford this season, boasting a 0.96 goals-against average. He has allowed just one goal over Stanford's current four-match winning streak.

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