Stanford's Hentz wins top scholar honor for volleyball | News | Palo Alto Online |


Stanford's Hentz wins top scholar honor for volleyball

The senior libero leads the Cardinal into this weekend's Sweet 16 at home

Libero Morgan Hentz has been named the Pac-12 Women's Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the conference announced Thursday.

Hentz is the fourth Cardinal player to receive the honor since the award's inception in 2007-08, joining Cynthia Barboza (2008-09), Jordan Burgess (2015-16) and Tami Alade (2018-19).

A three-time Pac-12 Libero of the Year, Hentz carries a 3.59 GPA in psychology with an emphasis in health and development. She leads the conference with 4.96 digs per set and broke the school record for career digs in November.

She is currently fourth in Pac-12 history with 2,233 career digs and her 4.70 career digs per set average is the best in program history. She has registered double-digit digs in all but two matches this season, and reached the 20-dig plateau on 16 occasions.

Hentz will help No. 3 Stanford attempt to earn another trip to the Final Four this weekend when the Cardinal (24-4) meets No. 17 Utah at 8 p.m. Friday in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Cardinal doesn't have to look too far to know the Utes are a dangerous team. The idea of playing a team for the third time in a season comes into play. Utah took Stanford to five sets at Maples Pavilion before losing and lost in four sets at home. Don't expect Friday's match to end in three sets.

"I think we have our share of talent," said Utah's Beth Launiere, named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. "But I also think this team has fought all season. That's one thing we learned about our team as the year went on, that they just wouldn't let down. That's one of the reasons we were in a lot of five-setters, we were always willing to fight and respond. If we had a tough set, it seemed like we would always come back. It's a close-knit group. They work hard. They are just committed to their work, committed to each other."

Utah beat Illinois in the first round team and then knocked of BYU on their home court in straight sets to earn its fourth trip to the Sweet 16.

The sweep over BYU was the first for the Utes in Provo since 2010 and the first time BYU has been swept by anyone at home since 2011.

This is the fourth Sweet 16 that Utah has made in program history and second in three years. They have never made it past the Sweet 16.

The Cardinal captured its third straight Pac-12 title and 19th overall in 2019. It marked the 31st top-2 standing in Pac-12 play in the past 34 seasons. Stanford has claimed 10 of the past 14 Pac-12 titles.

In three seasons under Kevin Hambly, Stanford is 43-2 at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal won 32 in a row at home with Hambly at the helm before falling to BYU on Sept. 21.

And don't overlook what could be a fascinating contest between No. 11 seed Penn State and unseeded Cincinnati.

You'd espect to see the Nittany Lions but the Bobcats needed to beat host No. 6 Pittsburgh to reach the Sweet 16.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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