Sports

Stanford is named national No. 1 seed in NCAA volleyball

 

The Stanford women's volleyball team earned the overall national No. 1 seed as it heads into the NCAA tournament, which begins Friday.

The top-ranked Cardinal (29-1) hosts the first two rounds. The survivor travels to Iowa for the Ames Regional, hosted by Iowa State the following weekend. The Final Four will be held in Oklahoma City.

Texas, Washington and Wisconsin earned national seeds 2 through 4. Like Stanford, the Longhorns lost a match, to Florida, late in the season.

Stanford opens Friday at 7 p.m. against Cal State Bakersfield (16-14), which won the WAC tournament to advance to its first NCAA tournament. The Roadrunners have won five straight.

Loyola Marymount (23-7) meets Michigan State (18-13) in the other first round match. The Lions won six in a row before losing their last two matches.

The Spartans won their last five in succession to earn an at-large bid. They lost to Oregon in four sets and defeated Oregon State in four sets in a trip west in mid-September.

The Cardinal won its first 28 matches before losing to Washington in Seattle. Stanford came back to top California and earned its 16th Pac-12 title.

Junior setter Madi Bugg is the national leader in assists per set, while Merete Lutz and Inky Ajanaku are tied for fourth in hitting percentage, each at .446.

Stanford and Penn State are the only schools that have played in every NCAA tournament. The Cardinal has never lost in the first round.

Stanford lost to the eventual champion Nittany Lions in five sets in last year's regional final and that's been a motivating factor all season.

The Cardinal opened its season with a visit to Iowa State, winning in three sets. Stanford is 23-1 against teams who made the NCAA tournament, including Iowa State, Penn State, Nebraska, Illinois, Santa Clara, San Diego and Duke.

Roadrunners' senior Molly O'Hagan was named the WAC tournament MVP. O'Hagan and Danika Youngblood were named first team All-WAC players.

Cal State Bakersfield has played NCAA qualifiers Oregon State and Nebraska, losing to both teams during the preseason.

Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado also received at-large bids to the tournament, giving the Pac-12 a total of 10 teams in the tournament. The Ducks were seeded 10th overall, Arizona was seeded 11th and UCLA was seeded 12th.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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