The No. 8 Stanford women's volleyball team was living dangerously, down two sets to one to host Arizona, and down by a point late in the fourth set.
The Cardinal found a way to recover and beat the 14th-ranked Wildcats, 15-25, 25-15, 21-25, 25-23, 17-15, Wednesday, at the McKale Center in Tucson.
Arizona scored four straight points to erase a deficit and take a 19-18 lead in the fourth set. The teams traded points until Stanford took a timeout, down 23-22.
Brittany Howard delivered a kill off a Madi Bugg assist out of the timeout to tie the score and an Arizona attack error put the Cardinal at set point. Freshman Hayley Hodson put down the winner on a set from freshman libero Halland McKenna.
The Wildcats took a 13-12 edge in the deciding set before Stanford used another timeout to full advantage. Howard again came up with the tying score and another Arizona error gave the Cardinal match point.
The teams traded points to 15-15, when consecutive kills from Hodson and Merete Lutz gave Stanford its dramatic victory.
The Cardinal could not afford to fall behind any further in the rugged Pac-12 if it continues to entertain title hopes. Arizona State is one of three conference teams currently ranked ahead of Stanford in the national AVCA poll.
Stanford out hit Arizona, .211 to .172, and posted a season high 18 team blocks. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Ivana Vanjak paced the Cardinal with nine blocks.
Lutz registered a career high 20 kills on a .450 attack percentage to go with a season-best eight blocks.
Howard was one kill shy of her career high, finishing with 16. She also added 10 digs for her fourth double-double of the year and had a season-best five blocks.
Bugg controlled the offense with a season-high 51 assists. She was also solid defensively for the Cardinal with 14 digs and a career-high tying six blocks. McKenna racked-up a match-best 17 digs.
Hodson also recorded a double-double for Stanford, totaling 13 kills and 11 digs while also tying her career high with three aces. Senior outside hitter Jordan Burgess added nine kills and 13 digs.
Sophomore defensive specialist Sarah Benjamin was also steady for the Cardinal in the back row, finishing with six digs.