Merete Lutz recorded 13 kills and had a hitting percentage of .579 to lead another collaborative effort for the sixth-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team in Thursday's 25-20, 25-13, 25-17 victory over visiting New Mexico State in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Maples Pavilion.
The Cardinal (23-6) looks to advance to the Sweet Sixteen on Friday, when it hosts Loyola Marymount in the second round at 7 p.m. The Lions upset No. 13 Colorado State in four sets in another first-round match.
Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Hayley Hodson added 13 kills on a .417 hitting percentage and 10 digs while senior Brittany Howard added 12 kills on a .400 hitting percentage. Madi Bugg added 38 assists and nine digs. Halland McKenna added 10 digs.
"We've had balance the whole year and Madi does a great job at incorporating us at the right time," Howard said. "I think Madi is really awesome. When the other team gets used to blocking a player, she goes to someone else. It's really fun to come and play with this group of girls every day."
Aggies' Gwen Murphy recorded three consecutive service aces to help her team open a three-point advantage at 7-4 in the first set.
The set was tied at 11 when a Hodson kill sparked a rally that put Stanford ahead to stay. Hodson and Lutz scored five of the Cardinal's next six points for a 16-13 edge.
"We did a really nice job against them," Stanford coach John Dunning said. "They started out taking it to us with their serve and we were miserable for awhile but we hung in there and I thought our passers did wonderfully after that."
New Mexico State closed to within 22-20, but then committed a couple of errors to set up Hodson's service ace for set point.
"Having such a diverse offense really opens up the court for us," Hodson said. "It's hard to block us when we have so many options."
Stanford never trailed in the second set, when Jordan Burgess recording the final two points on kills to finish it.
Burgess will face off against former high school teammate Amber Mirabello, a fifth-year senior with LMU. They both attended Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla.
"They have a lot of good players," Dunning said of LMU. "They're just a different team than we are."
The third set was tied 13 times before the Cardinal took control with a 12-4 run to end the match. Howard recorded four kills and a block during that span and recorded match point with a kill.