Friday, November 30, 2007

Women's Vball NCAA Round 1 11/30/2007

Stanford 3 Santa Clara 0 (30-22, 30-28, 30-27)To paraphrase, the road to Sacramento began tonight. Thanks to our tough wins and strength of schedule, we secured the overall #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and received a pretty good draw. If the seeds hold, we'll face UCLA in the Elite 8 and Texas in the Final 4, which is definitely better (in my mind) than USC, Washington or even Cal in the Elite 8 and Nebraska or Penn State in the Final 4. But as I mentioned previously, we need to take it one game at a time.

The first 75 students got in for free tonight although I'm not quite sure that all the tickets were used up. It was understandable though, with the final night of Gaieties coinciding with the game. Gaieties is an annual production that runs the 3 nights before Big Game. Alex is on the Board of Directors and this year, the Lopez twins were in it too although I hear that Robin didn't perform tonight, probably because of the trip to Colorado.

While we may have been the overall #1 seed in the tournament, Santa Clara is definitely not the 64th team in the nation (for volleyball, they seed the top 16 teams and then figure out other match-ups based on location). They definitely made us work in games 2 and 3. We started out the match really strongly, looking very fluid on offense and winning the long rallies with scrambling defense. It looked like we would waltz to a very comfortable victory.

In games 2 and 3 especially, we seemed to go away from Foluke. Even when Bryn received a good pass, she didn't set to Foluke in the middle, instead choosing to go to Alix or Cynthia outside. Santa Clara adjusted to this and while we still scored our fair share of points, it seemed like they managed to get some digs and touches (I might just be quibbling too much because based on the hitting percentage from box scores, we actually did a better job in 2 and 3). Sitting directly behind the players as opposed to midcourt, I was able to appreciate the amount of movement that certain serves have. I guess I'm more understanding now about serve reception, but still, it was iffy in parts and we especially struggled with #1's serve, which moved quite a bit in the air. I also noticed that Santa Clara didn't have that many service errors - one reason they were able to keep in the game.

But at the end of the day, we responded to the challenge with a monster game from Alix, who had 3 consecutive solo blocks in the 3rd to swing the close game in our favour. We face Sacramento State, who upset Minnesota earlier today, tomorrow after Big Game. 1 win down, 5 more to go (but really 1 more tomorrow and then we'll worry about the next one). As a side note, I can't believe that tomorrow will be my last Big Game as an undergraduate. Let's Beat Cal!
~ Zhihao

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