This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Stanford women's volleyball team. Four-time defending NCAA champion Penn State would probably disagree after what happened Friday night.
Facing its first top-10 team of the season, the No. 3 Cardinal knocked off defending national champion Penn State in the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic at Maples Pavilion, 23-25, 25-19, 27-25, 25-18.
Stanford improves to 5-0 overall while the Nittany Lions drop to 4-2.
Stanford sophomore Rachel Williams finished with her second double-double of the year, leading the team with 22 kills and 12 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Carly Wopat added 11 kills, eight digs and seven blocks, while junior Hayley Spelman and redshirt freshman Lydia Bai each recorded six kills in the win.
Cardinal Junior setter Karissa Cook controlled the offense with 44 assists, while also tallying four kills, eight digs and four blocks. Freshman defensive specialist Kyle Gilbert led the squad with 14 digs. Stanford out hit Penn State .224 to .142.
Sophomore Deja McClendon led the Nittany Lions with 17 kills and seven digs, while setter Micha Hancock registered 45 assists and 11 digs.
Penn State edged Stanford 25-23 in the opening set. The Nittany Lions out hit the Cardinal .283 to .231 in the first in which there were seven tie scores and three lead changes. Sophomore Maddie Martin led Penn State with six kills, while middle blocker Katie Slay put down five. Four Cardinal players registered three kills apiece as Cook tallied 12 assists.
Stanford fought back and captured the second set, 25-19, despite a .162 team hitting percentage. Penn State, which committed 12 errors in the set, was held to a .100 hitting percentage. Williams paced the Cardinal with six kills and four digs, while Cook racked up nine assists and three digs. Slay and McClendon led the Nittany Lions with three kills each.
Stanford came out on top of a nail-bitter in the third, 27-25, which had 19 tie scores and nine lead changes. The Cardinal posted a .294 attack percentage in the set, while holding the Nittany Lions to a .125 clip. Williams led the team again, registering nine kills, two digs and block, while Wopat chipped in with three kills, two digs and two blocks. McClendon put down eight kills to lead Penn State.
The Cardinal finished off the Nittany Lions with a 25-18 fourth-set win. Stanford held Penn State to a match-low .029 hitting percentage. Williams put down four kills, while Wopat and Spelman tallied three kills apiece. Stanford collected five blocks and 13 digs in the set to hold off Penn State. The Nittany Lions were led by McClendon and Martin, who each put down three kills.
Stanford now leads the all-time series against Penn State 7-6.
Stanford will face either Florida or Texas match at 7 p.m. on Saturday.