Sports

LMU stuns the Cardinal in NCAA volleyball tournament

 

Jordan Burgess, Brittany Howard and Madi Bugg leave the Stanford women's volleyball program among the all-time greats, though they will leave without another trip to the Final Four.

Loyola Marymount held the sixth-ranked Cardinal well below its season hitting average and beat Stanford, 28-26, 25-16, 25-23, on Friday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.


Halland McKenna
LMU (24-8) will go on to play Kansas next Friday night at San Diego's Jenny Craig Pavilion at either 5:30 or 8:11 p.m., and will be televised on one of the ESPN stations.

"Loyola Marymount played great and did really good things," Stanford coach John Dunning said. "What you really want to say is you're miserable. That's just how you feel."

Burgess recorded eight kills, without an error, and hit .320 in her final collegiate match. She also had four digs to move ahead of Cary Wendell for fifth on the school's all-time dig list with 1,320.

"It's been life-changing coming to Stanford four years," Burgess said. "It's been the greatest four years of my life. We were all sitting in the locker room, crying our eyes out, and I looked down at my jersey and it had 'Stanford Cardinal' written on it. It's been cool."

Bugg had 30 assists and leaves Stanford No. 2 on the school's all-time list with 5,014.

"I feel bad for the seniors," Dunning said. "They have had amazing careers. They played 63 matches in this gym and lost three times."

Merete Lutz had 10 kills to lead the Cardinal (23-7), which failed to get past the second round for just the third time since Dunning took over in 2001.

Burgess predicted great things for next year's team, with its mixture of youth and experience, and the return of all-American Inky Ajanaku, who missed her senior season with an injury and comes back for a fifth year.

"We have an amazing recruiting class coming in," Burgess said. "And the team will be absurdly motivated and hard-working."

In addition to Ajanaku and the incoming class, the Cardinal also returns Lutz, middle blocker Ivana Vanjak, libero Halland McKenna and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Hayley Hodson.

Kelsey Humphreys, who appeared in 108 of Stanford's 110 sets, also returns. Her mother is Wendi Rush, who had 5,003 assists while playing at Stanford. It was she who Bugg surpassed on Friday night.

Burgess may not have had her best season, but she certainly played her best against the Lions. Over the final two sets she hit .500, recording seven kills on 14 swings.

She also recorded a pair of service aces and produced a highlight reel play when the Cardinal absolutely needed it to stay in the match.

Burgess tracked down an errant ball out-of-bounds on the Lions' side and somehow managed to save it to keep a rally alive. She also recorded her only block of the match on the same play.

"Jordan is a special person," Dunning said. "She's one of the people willing to work hard in the gym every day and push herself. She had to push herself things that were hard and painful. She really stepped up and did a great job."

Stanford led, 8-6, in the first set before the Lions scored the next five points. LMU still led at 23-19 when the Cardinal scored five straight to inch ahead, 24-23. Howard had two kills and joined with Vanjak on a block during the rally.

A Lutz kill tied the second set at 9-9 before LMU, which hit .571 in the set, went on an 11-4 run to take charge and win going away.

The Lions recorded six service aces to Stanford's zero through the first two sets. The Cardinal also committed six service errors. LMU out-hit, out-dug and out-blocked the Cardinal.

The third set was good old-fashioned volleyball, though the Lions continued to out-hit Stanford and left Maples with a .337 hitting percentage to the Cardinal's .212.

For a time, near the end of the match, Stanford was hitting .188, near its season-low of .162 in a loss to North Carolina. The Cardinal never stopped playing.

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