Stanford women's volleyball coach Kevin Hambly knew his team would face a familiar opponent in the Round of 16 but he didn't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it since the third-ranked and third-seeded Cardinal still needed to beat Cal Poly on Saturday to assure itself of a berth in the Sweet Sixteen.
Seniors Kathryn Plummer and Audriana Fitzmorris combined for 30 kills, nearly matching Cal Poly's team total of 32, and Stanford swept the visiting Mustangs 25-13, 25-16, 25-17, to reserve a spot in the regional semifinals, which begin Friday at Maples Pavilion.
Kate Formico/Glen Mitchell
The Utes swept 14th-seed BYU, 25-15, 25-15, 25-15, on Saturday to advance. Utah took Stanford to five sets in its last visit to Maples.
"It's exciting to be playing them again," Fitzmorris said. "I'm sure they will bring a good fight next week."
Hambly said he's not surprised to be seeing the Utes, rather than BYU, which won at Stanford in four sets earlier in the year.
"The Pac-12 is really good this year," Hambly said. "We're excited about playing them."
Like Stanford, Penn State has been a mainstay in the NCAA tournament. They're the only two schools to have played in all of them, dating to its inception in 1981. Only Stanford has won more NCAA titles than the Nittany Lions.
Cincinnati, which did not receive enough votes even to be mentioned among this week's AVCA Top 25 list, knocked off host No. 6 Pittsburgh in five sets, rallying from a 12-9 deficit in the decider.
The Bearcats are led by Jordan Thompson, who is worth the price of admission in her own right. She celebrated her 22nd birthday this year (May 5) by recording 30 kills for the United States national team in a crucial victory over Brazil during the finals of the Volleyball Nations League. The Americans beat Brazil for the VNL title two days later.
Thompson had 27 kills in Cincinnati's win over Pitt.
Stanford hit .392 and limited Cal Poly to a .152 hitting percentage for the match while registering an 83% sideout ratio.
Plummer hit .371 and also recorded 10 digs. Fitzmorris hit .440. Madeleine Gates (7-0-11) and Jenna Gray (5-0-6) combined to hit .706. Gray added 32 assists and Morgan Hentz recorded 14 digs.
Cal Poly freshman Grace King, who played at Menlo School, was on the court but not in uniform for the Mustangs (21-9). She contributed great enthusiasm and led a couple of cheers.