The Bruins had three players with 19 kills or more but couldn’t prevail against the newly crowned Pac-12 champions.
No. 18 UCLA women’s volleyball (16-10, 9-8 Pac-12) fell to No. 4 Stanford (24-3, 17-1) in a five-set battle with scores of 19-25, 25-23, 25-20, 21-25 and 13-15.
Stanford had clinched the Pac-12 championship the night before with a sweep over USC.
UCLA hit only .121 against Stanford in their first matchup on October 13 in a 3-1 loss. Thursday night was a different story, as the Bruins had a .261 hitting percentage.
Sophomore middle blocker Madeleine Gates tallied 22 kills with a .462 hitting percentage, while senior outside hitter Reily Buechler had a double-double with 22 kills with a .283 hitting percentage and 13 digs. Freshmen outside hitter Jenny Mosser added 19 kills with a .280 hitting percentage.
Stanford started out strong and took the first set after going on a 6-0 run midway through. While UCLA led the set in digs, assists, and kills, Stanford’s size overwhelmed UCLA’s offense and the Cardinal out-blocked the Bruins six to nothing. Stanford starts three players 6 feet 6 inches and taller, while UCLA tallest starter is Gates at 6 feet 3 inches.
Stanford, a team that ranks third in the country in blocks per set, ended the game with 17 blocks. UCLA finished with a mere three blocks, and the Bruins didn’t earn their first block until their 57th point of the match.
Despite this, coach Michael Sealy said that UCLA played great defensively. The Bruins lead the Pac-12 in digs per set. They finished with 83 digs, led by 23 from junior libero Zana Muno, who was unable to play in their first matchup.
In the second set, UCLA narrowly earned the win behind eight kills from Gates. After the fifteenth point of set two, the Bruins didn’t trail again until the fourth set.
Stanford went on a 13-6 run in set four to advance the game to a final set. Set five had eight ties and three lead changes, but Stanford came out on top in the end with a .421 hitting percentage.
Cardinal outside hitter Kathryn Plummer, who leads the Pac-12 in kills per set, had a season-high 28 kills and a .323 hitting percentage. Stanford opposite Merete Lutz added 21 kills with a .476 hitting percentage.
UCLA continues its road trip to play California on Sunday.