Stanford volleyball hits the road for another big test

Stanford sophomore setter Madi Bugg has a final to take on Wednesday. Her classroom will be some empty space somewhere in a hotel in Lexington, KY.

Such is the life of a student-athlete who puts academics ahead of athletics (that's for all the moms out there) and packs books and study aids along with the sporting equipment.

"I've been doing pretty well so far," Bugg said of her Archeology class. "It all depends on how much studying I can get done."

Cardinal women's volleyball coach John Dunning knows Bugg can study with the best of them. She's worked at her craft long and hard and Dunning appreciates the progress.

Bugg recorded 38 assists and Stanford had 44 kills in beating visiting Oklahoma, 25-15, 25-19, 25-18, in second round action of the NCAA tournament Friday.

The third-ranked and seventh-seeded Cardinal (26-5) meets the winner of Saturday's match between Colorado and No. 10 seed Minnesota in Lexington next Friday in the regional semifinal.

Sophomore middle blocker Inky Ajanaku added 11 kills, five blocks and a .421 hitting percentage as Stanford won its season-high 11th straight.

"Madi and Inky have both had great seasons so far," Dunning said. "They continue to get better every day. Their defense did a great job and we had a hard time getting the ball to the floor. Madi get a good job of holding people or feeding the middles."

Stanford's hitting was limited to .215, but the Cardinal also played well defensively to limit the Sooners to .097.

"They forced us out of our offense," Dunning said. "But we were able to stop them too. We passed a lot of good balls and covered each other."

Bugg currently ranks 10th on Stanford's all-time assist list with 2,210. She's 56 shy of tying U.S. national team member Cassidy Lichtman for ninth.

Senior Carly Wopat had five blocks for the contest to become the third member of Stanford's 600-block club, joining Kim Oden (665) and Bev Oden (650). Wopat has 603.

Brittany Howard added 11 kills and a team-high 17 digs. Kyle Gilbert recorded 15 digs and Jordan Burgess had 10.

Eight of the nine Pac-12 teams entered in the tournament won first-round matches. The only loss was Arizona State dropping a five-set match to BYU in Hawaii. The Sun Devils had beaten top-ranked and defending champion Texas earlier in the season.

Fifth-seeded Florida became the first national seed ousted, sent home by Florida State. The Gators are one of four teams to beat the Cardinal this season.

"Against Stanford we had to play on all six cylinders and hope they are a little off," Oklahoma coach Santiago Restrepo said. "They are well-balanced at every position. They are sure to be in the Final Four."

The Colorado-Minnesota match takes place at the same time Stanford and Arizona State meet for the Pac-12 football title. Bugg hopes to keep an eye on both events.


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