Sports

Stanford women corral third-ranked Longhorns in volleyball

 
Tami Alade (left) and Jenna Gray celebrate a point. Photo by Erin Chang/isiphotos.com.

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
"There are two things the committee leans on when it comes time for seeding," Stanford coach Kevin Hambly said. "One of them is the RPI. Hosting the first two rounds are a big deal and we want to earn that."

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.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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