No. 9 Stanford women's volleyball opened the postseason with a convincing 25-12, 25-22, 25-20 victory over Denver in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night at Maples Pavilion.
Stanford (22-7) lived up to its billing as the tournament's No. 6 overall seed, winning for the 11th time in 12 games overall while improving to 12-4 in NCAA Tournament play over the last five seasons.
The Cardinal hit .361 for the match but featured at least three players with double-digit kills for the first time since Nov. 12 against UCLA. Redshirt senior Inky Ajanaku totaled 12 kills on .526 hitting, while redshirt junior Ivana Vanjak and freshman Kathryn Plummer both added 11 kills. Plummer also accounted for three of Stanford's five service aces.
Ajanaku also added three of the Cardinal's 10 blocks while the trio of Plummer, freshman Jenna Gray and freshman Morgan Hentz contributed 11 digs apiece.
Denver's only lead of the first set at 8-7 was short-lived, as Stanford countered with five unanswered points. Leading 14-11, the Cardinal regained control with a 9-0 run that featured two kills apiece from Ajanaku and Vanjak. Stanford posted a .423 hitting percentage compared to Denver's .057 clip.
The Pioneers (23-9) looked sharp again to open the second set, building an early four-point advantage and holding the lead until an error put the Cardinal in front 16-15. Tied at 17-17, Stanford seized momentum to close out the set despite its hitting percentage dipping to .250 in the frame.
The third set featured five lead changes and nine ties, the last of which occurred at 17-17. Stanford earned some breathing room by winning back-to-back points before closing out the set with an 8-3 run.