The No. 23-ranked Utah volleyball team comes into this weekend's match-ups on a four-match winning streak. The Utes defeated No. 2 Washington last week, and look to continue their trend of defeating nationally ranked teams, as they take on No. 1 Stanford in Palo Alto this Friday at 9:00 p.m. MT. They will finish up their Northern California trip Sunday, as they travel to Berkley to take on the Cal Bears at Noon MT.
The top-ranked Cardinal are the only undefeated squad in the country at 26-0 and 16-0 in the Pac 12. Stanford is hitting .315 on the season, which is good enough for first in the conference and third in the nation. They also average 14.28 kills per set, that places them second both in the Pac-12, as well as the country. The Cardinal are lead by two middle blockers in freshman Merete Lutz and junior Inky Ajanaku, who are the top two hitters in the league. Five Stanford players have surpassed 200 kills this season.
The Cal Bears streak was headed the other direction this season. Last week they snapped their 19-match conference losing streak, dating back to last season, as they beat USC in five sets for their first Pac-12 victory of 2014. The Bears are 9-17 overall and 1-15 in conference play. Cal is hitting .215 on the season and average 13 kills.
The now ranked Utes are riding high after winning four in a row, defeating three ranked teams. Most recently, Utah downed both of the Washington schools at home last week. Adora Anae was named the Pac-12 freshman of the week. Anae had 14 kills, and 13 digs versus Washington State, and then followed that up with 10 kills and 10 digs against Washington. Senior Kalee Kirby's nine double-doubles is good for ninth in the conference.
Anae and Kirby, along with the rest of the Utes, face a tall task (literally with Lutz at 6-8) in Palo Alto, but, at minimum, a road split would help the Utes stay in the Top 25 and keep hope alive for post season play.