Beach volleyball travels for first round of Pac-12 tournament to face Stanford
This week, Arizona beach volleyball heads up to Stanford, Calif. to put their past year of training to the ultimate test: the Pac-12 Championships. This season, Arizona takes the fifth seed in the tournament as they went 6-3 in Pac-12 matches, dropping all four of their games during the weekend of the Pac-12 South Invitational against No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 USC, No. 3 California, and No. 4 Stanford.
Arizona, the fifth seed, starts out the tournament with a game against the fourth seed, Stanford. So far, the Cardinals are 16-11 on the season, but they are coming off of a tough loss (2-3) against the California Golden Bears on Saturday, April 21 in Berkeley, Calif. in the Big Spike Tournament.
On the weekend of April 14, Stanford beach volleyball had a very impressive performance in the Pac-12 North Invitational in Seattle, Wash. The Cardinals went 3-1 on the tournament, only dropping a game to the No. 2 USC Trojans. Stanford started out that weekend by sweeping (5-0) No. 9 Oregon in their first match, then getting their only loss (2-3) to USC. On the next day, they went undefeated, defeating No. 3 California (3-2) and No. 6 Washington (4-1).
Stanford has had things going their way during these past couple of months, especially after dropping their first four games of the season, to Hawai’i and No. 1 UCLA twice each. They are 16-7 in their past twenty-three games ever since their first tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Arizona and Stanford have met once before this season. On March 24, the Cardinals beat the Sand Cats by a score of 3-2 with Stanford getting all of its points from the first, second, and third pairs.
The Wildcats started out that match hot. The No. 4 pair, Hailey Devlin and Stephany Purdue, defeated Stanford’s Payton Chang and Catherine Raquel in a close three-set match. Also, Arizona’s No. 5 pair, Brooke Burling and Jonny Baham, defeated Stanford’s Kat Anderson and Caitlin Keefe in a two-set sweep. Arizona’s top three pairs all dropped their matches, giving Stanford the three points that they needed to get the win.
The winner of the game of No. 5 Arizona versus No. 4 Stanford will go on to play with the winner of No. 1 UCLA versus either No. 8 Utah/No. 9 Oregon (winner will be decided earlier that day at 8am) on Friday, April 27.
No. 5 Arizona will not have an easy route to the championships, as they could potentially play the top four teams in their conference and the only Pac-12 teams they have lost to this season (UCLA, USC, California, and Stanford). But then again, they have not had an easy season so far and they have managed to do well (19-10).
Follow Amit Syal on Twitter