There's no rule that says the second-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team had to schedule four top five teams in a span of six matches. The Cardinal consciously made the choice and thrived on it.
No. 2 Stanford swept No. 3 Texas, 25-15, 25-22, 32-30, Tuesday night at Maples Pavilion and, enjoyed the experience so much, will fly to Austin for a rematch Friday at 6 p.m. on the Longhorn Network.
Meghan McClure /Stanford Athletics
Even losing at now top-ranked BYU last weekend helped Stanford in the RPI as well as in other ways. After its second meeting with the Longhorns, the Cardinal will be ready for a Pac-12 schedule that eerily looks a lot like the past six or seven matches.
After meeting two tough unranked foes, Stanford will face six consecutive Top-25 teams, including Colorado and Utah on the road.
A mere coincidence or an alien conspiracy? Or possibly, Hambly understands what it takes for Stanford to be challenged . . . on a daily basis.
"We wanted that experience, to go into a packed BYU gym, and it got loud," Hambly said. "To be in that environment, we learned a lot about ourselves. BYU is a legit team, as good as anybody. They're capable of holding the No. 1 ranking until the end of the year."
Stanford (7-1) won its fifth straight match, including its third straight over a top-five opponent, since losing in five sets to the Cougars. The Cardinal also swept No. 5 Penn State on Friday and defeated top-ranked Minnesota, 3-1, on Sunday.
The Cardinal scored the first eight points of the match, which included a pair of aces from junior Jenna Gray. Stanford hit at a .500 clip in the first set and held Texas to a .100 hitting percentage en route to a 25-15 win in the opening set.
Texas held the Cardinal to a .179 hitting percentage in the second set, but Stanford held a slight lead throughout and managed to secure a 25-22 victory and two-set advantage.
Stanford, which won its 22nd consecutive home match, pulled out a wild third set. The Cardinal fought off four match points and rallied to win on back-to-back-to-back kills by Audriana Fitzmorris, Kathryn Plummer and Gray.
Plummer, who was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I Player of the Week earlier in the day, led the team with 13 kills and added 10 digs, three aces and three assists. Fitzmorris added 11 kills with a .476 hitting percentage and Gray led the Cardinal with 30 assists. Junior Morgan Hentz finished with a team-high 11 digs.
As a team, the Cardinal out hit the Longhorns, .286 to .225, and had a season-high nine aces.