By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Goliath has fallen. Just one week after No. 4 UCLA was upset by then-unranked Washington, another Pac-10 giant gained its first loss, No. 1 Stanford.
But this week the Bruins (24-3 overall, 13-2 in the Pacific 10 Conference) were on the other side, defeating the Cardinal in five games.
Before last weekend, the Stanford women's volleyball team (21-1, 13-1) had yet to go five games with any team. But all that changed in what Cardinal coach Don Shaw called "our worst weekend of the season."
Stanford came out Friday night knowing it was about to face its toughest conference match of the season. But many people still felt Stanford would win convincingly.
"I was talking to one of my friends before the game and he said the only way we could lose would be if we gave the game away, which we did," Shaw said.
Stanford's serving and hitting was uncharacteristically sloppy. For a team that is usually even in the ratio of aces to service errors, Friday night was a major surprise. The Cardinal had no aces and 14 serving errors. And although their hitting was also far off their usual consistency, they were still getting good strikes on the ball.
"I think we had a zillion hitting errors," Shaw said. "But the funny thing was that we weren't hitting the ball all that badly. It seemed like most of our errors were just barely out. They could have easily had been in."
UCLA assistant coach Burt Fuller felt Stanford's errors were due to the Bruins' defense.
"I think that we really pressured them on defense," Fuller said. "We had shown the girls video of the Stanford hitters, so I think we knew some of their tendencies. I also think that our blocking was a major factor. We outblocked them nearly two to one."
The Bruins' offensive attack was also improved from their last meeting.
"When we played Stanford earlier in the year, they tried to slow down Annett Buckner, and we did not
counter with anyone else," Fuller said. "But Friday we had more of a balanced attack with four players in double figures in kills."
With No. 18 Arizona facing Stanford Saturday, this might be a bad time to face the Cardinal.
"I think that Stanford is going to come out Friday night to show the nation that they are still the number one team," UA coach David Rubio.
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After winning three straight, Arizona (12-8, 7-7) is heating up at the right time. With the tournament approaching, the Wildcats know they need to keep up the intensity in their last four games.
"We had a tough middle of the season when we faced Stanford, USC, UCLA and Arizona State," Rubio said.
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