Sports

Stanford women ready for NCAA volleyball Final Four

 

The ninth-ranked and sixth-seeded Stanford women's volleyball team meets a familiar opponent in top-ranked and second-seeded Minnesota in the NCAA national semifinals on Thursday at Columbus, Ohio.

No. 1 seed Nebraska (31-2) and No. 4 seed Texas (26-4) play in the other semifinal, with the winners meeting in the national championship match on Saturday.

The Cardinal (25-7) met the Golden Gophers (29-4) early in the season, handing them a four-set loss at Maples Pavilion.

A lot has happened since then, of course, with the maturation of the freshmen class at the top of the list.

Minnesota, which defeated No. 15 seed Missouri and No. 10 seed UCLA at home last week to reach its second straight Final Four, has improved as well.

The Gophers, which lost one set this postseason, are making their 21st NCAA tournament appearance and fifth in the national semifinals.

Minnesota is hitting .293 on the season and averaging 1.11 aces and 2.68 blocks per set.

The Gophers are led by Big Ten Player of the Year Sarah Wilhite (4.20 kps/2.57 dps) and Big Ten Setter of the Year Samantha Seliger-Swenson (11.60 aps).

Stanford is 7-0 all-time against Minnesota. The last time the Cardinal and Gophers met in NCAA Tournament action was a Stanford sweep in the Lexington Regional semifinals on Dec. 13, 2013. Stanford is 2-0 in NCAA postseason matches against Minnesota.

Stanford advanced to the national semifinals by eliminating 16th-ranked Florida State in four sets and upsetting No. 3 Wisconsin on its home court after being down two sets.

Fifth-year senior Inky Ajanaku took over for the Cardinal, hitting .484 and averaging 4.11 kills and 1.67 blocks per set en route to being named the MVP of the Madison Regional.

Freshmen Kathryn Plummer (3.00 kps/2.11 dps) and Morgan Hentz (6.33 dps) were also named to the all-regional team.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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