Cardinal women find a way to grab volleyball victory


Freshman Audriana Fitzmorris recorded a career-high 20 kills as the ninth-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team held off No. 17 Illinois, 25-22, 19-25, 25-12, 20-25, 15-12, Saturday, in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge at the Coors Events Center.

Fitzmorris hit a match-high .559 (20-1-34), while also tallying seven blocks, three digs and an ace. Redshirt senior Inky Ajanaku turned in 13 kills on .407 hitting and six blocks, while sophomore Hayley Hodson came on late and finished with 12 kills and six digs.

Inky Ajanaku
Setters Kelsey Humphreys and Jenna Gray controlled the offense with 35 and 23 assists, respectively. Humphreys was one assist shy of her career-high and she was one dig away from a double-double. Freshman libero Morgan Hentz collected a career-best 19 digs to lead the Cardinal.

Redshirt juniors Merete Lutz and Ivana Vanjak, and freshman Kathryn Plummer each registered eight kills for Stanford. Freshman outside hitter Michaela Keefe made her collegiate debut in the third set.

As a team, Stanford hit .239 for the match while holding Illinois to a .176 clip. However, the Illini held a 15.0 to 14.0 advantage in blocks and a 59 to 52 edge in digs.

The Cardinal struggled offensively in the first set, committing 11 attack errors and hitting .100. The Illini hit just .029. In total, there were 13 tie scores and five lead changes in the set. Hodson notched four kills to lead the Cardinal, while Hentz picked up six digs to anchor the defense in the first.

The second set was close early on, but Illinois built a 19-14 advantage and never looked back. Fitzmorris racked-up six kills in the set to pace the Cardinal.

Stanford came out fired up after the 10 minute intermission and was firing on all cylinders in the third. The Cardinal hit .467 as a team, posting 16 kills with just two miscues, while the Illini managed to record just seven kills in the set.

Illinois forced a fifth set with a 25-20 win in the fourth. The Illini hit .290 in the fourth, while the Cardinal managed just a .150 attack percentage, committing seven attack errors in the set.

The final set was close early on, but the Cardinal built an 8-5 lead and held on to win its first five-set match of the season. Ajanaku put down five kills in the fifth, while Fitzmorris added three. Plummer sealed the win with her fifth block of the match.

Stanford closes the weekend against 13th-ranked Penn State on Sunday. The match is slated for 2 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Bay Area.

— Stanford Athletics

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