Stanford Claims 8th NCAA Women's Volleyball Title

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Dec. 15, 2018, 11:53 p.m. (ET)

Stanford won its eighth NCAA title by defeating Nebraska in a five-set thriller in front of 18,113 fans in Minneapolis.
Stanford won its eighth NCAA title by defeating Nebraska in a five-set thriller in front of 18,113 fans in Minneapolis.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 15, 2018) – Top-seeded Stanford (34-1) claimed its record-setting eighth NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship title after defeating seventh-seeded Nebraska (29-7) 28-26, 22-25, 25-16, 15-25, 15-12 on Saturday evening in front of 18,113 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Stanford, playing in its 16th championship match, denied Nebraska was winning back-to-back titles and its third in four years. The Cardinal ended the year on a 32-match win streak.

Stanford and Nebraska are the only two schools to have won NCAA titles in the past four years. Nebraska won titles in 2015 and 2017, while Stanford claimed the gold in 2016. Back in 2006, Nebraska defeated Stanford in the only other time the two programs faced each other in the finals.

The Cardinal came back from a 10-5 deficit in the opening set to take a 23-20 advantage, but the Huskers saved three set points to force to frame into extra points. Stanford finally claimed victory at 28-26 on its sixth set point opportunity. The Cardinal had five aces in the set and took advantage of 12 errors by the Huskers. Nebraska broke a 15-all tie in the second set with a 5-1 run to take a 20-16 advantage and cruised to the 25-22 victory to level the match at one set apiece. Stanford raced to a 7-2 advantage in the third set, then after the Huskers closed to with 10-8, the Cardinal ran off seven unanswered points for a 17-8 lead en route to a 25-16 victory.

Nebraska scored the first five points of the fourth set and upped its lead to 9-1 and cruised to a 25-15 victory to send the match to a deciding fifth set. Stanford broke a 9-all tie in the fifth with a 5-1 run staking the Cardinal to a 14-10 lead, including an ace from Sidney Wilson. Nebraska saved two set points but Meghan McClure ended the match with a back-row kill at 15-12.

Stanford won its eighth NCAA title by defeating Nebraska in a five-set thriller in front of 18,113 fans in Minneapolis.Stanford junior outside hitter Kathryn Plummer, who was named the AVCA Division I Player of the Year for the second year in a row, scored three of her 19 kills in the deciding set. For the match, she had 21 points with two blocks assists, one ace and 10 digs. Plummer is the only player to win a medal in a World Championship event in both indoor and beach volleyball age-group competition. Cardinal opposite Audriana Fitzmorris had 14 kills on 34 swings and five block assists. She was part of the 2013 FIVB U20 World Championship silver-medal team and followed with gold at the Global Challenge in 2015 and 2018 with the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team and the U.S. Collegiate National Team-Europe, respectively.

Jenna Gray led the Cardinal to a .247 hitting efficiency via 56 assists. She added three kills, two block assists and an ace in the victory. Stanford libero Morgan Hentz tallied 31 digs and added four assists. Middle Holly Campbell added 15 kills on 29 attacks and just an error to go with three block assists.

McClure finished the match with six kills, an ace, three block assists and 19 digs. Middle Tami Alade charted six kills on 11 attacks and eight block assists. Sidney Wilson had four aces as a defensive specialist and Formico had two aces and four digs.

Nebraska’s Mikaela Foecke scored a match-high 27 kills on 70 attacks to go with two block assists and an ace for 29 points. She recorded a double-double with 11 digs. She has come up through the USA Volleyball High Performance pipeline, including a silver-medal at the 2013 FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship. Middle Lauren Stivrins pocketed 19 kills on 26 attacks as part of a .615 hitting efficiency. She added a block solo and four block assists at the net. Jazz Sweet pitched in 10 kills and five block assists in the title match.

Husker setter Nicklin Hames, the first freshman setter in program history, set Nebraska to a .272 hitting efficiency. She added 11 digs and a kill. Libero Kenzie Maloney charted 17 digs and four assists in the match. Lexi Sun provided seven kills, one ace and one block assists while providing 15 digs. She helped Team USA win silver at the 2015 FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship after playing in the 2013 FIVB Women’s U23 World Championship at age 15.

Capri Davis had five kills on eight attacks in her limited front-row action. Calli Schwarzenbach totaled four kills and four block assists. Megan Miller had 12 digs at her defensive specialist position.

Stanford out-served Nebraska with a 9-2 ace advantage, while also holding an 11.5-8 block margin.

Husker seniors Mikaela Foecke and Kenzie Maloney were attempting to win their third NCAA titles. The pair holds a 21-2 record in their four years playing in the NCAA Tournament with the only other loss being in the semifinals in 2016.

Stanford advanced to the title match after sweeping fourth-seeded BYU in the semifinals, while Nebraska came back from a two-set deficit to defeat Illinois in a five-set semifinal thriller.

After Stanford score the first two points of the match, Nebraska answered with four straight points on Maloney’s serve to go up 4-2. The Huskers raised their lead to 9-4 following a Foecke service ace. The Cardinal closed the gap to three at 11-9 on a 4-1 run. The Cardinal moved to within one at 12-11 on an ace from Wilson, her second of the set. Sweet put up a block and Foecke followed with a kill to give the Huskers a four-point cushion at 15-11. Fitzmorris hammered a kill and put up a block to close Stanford to 17-15. Formico served back-to-back aces to pull the Cardinal into a tie at 18-all, then Plummer hit an off-speed kill to put Stanford in front 19-18 following a 6-1 run. McClure served an ace after a Campbell kill to yield a two-point cushion for Stanford at 21-19. Plummer hit a line shot to put the Cardinal up 23-20. The Huskers saved three set points on three Cardinal attack errors to tie the set at 24-all. Stanford claimed the opening set at 28-26 on a block from Gray and Campbell. Stanford claimed five aces in the opening set and it hit .268 as a team led by Plummer’s six kills. Nebraska held a .302 hitting efficiency in the opening set, but 12 errors did the Huskers no favors.

Sun and Foecke notched consecutive kills after a Stanford service error to put Nebraska in front 6-4 early in the second set. However, Plummer drilled an attack to tie the set at 6-all. Sun scored a kill and block assist to lift Nebraska to an 8-6 margin. Stanford went on a 3-0 run with a kill from Plummer and two Husker attack errors to put the Cardinal in front 11-10. Stivrins and Sun slammed back-to-back kills to reverse the lead to Nebraska at 13-12, then went up 15-13 following two Stanford errors. Stanford tied the set at 15-all with consecutive kills from Campbell and Plummer. The momentum shifted back to Nebraska with a Stanford service error and Sweet block at 17-15. Foecke expanded the Husker lead to 20-16 with back-to-back kills. Alade blocked Nebraska after a Husker service error to reduce the Cardinal deficit to 21-19. Out of a Husker timeout, Foecke crushed consecutive kills to up the Nebraska lead to 23-19. Stanford chipped away at the deficit with an Alade block and Fitzmorris kill at 23-21. Nebraska won the set at 25-22 on a Stanford blocking error. Much like the opening set, the set loser actually out-hit their opponent with Stanford hitting .353 to Nebraska’s .326.

Plummer scored back-to-back kills to open the third set to give Stanford a 2-0 lead, then the Cardinal raised the lead to 4-1 with a Fitzmorris kill and Alade block. Stanford continued the charge with a kills from McClure and Fitzmorris around a combined block from Campbell and Fitzmorris to extend the Cardinal lead to 7-2. The Huskers closed to two at 9-7 with a kill and block from Schwarzenbach. Stanford stormed back to an eight-point cushion with kills from Pllumer and Alade, followed by two blocks from Alade and Plummer and two Foecke attack errors at 16-8. Fitzmorris scored a seventh straight Cardinal point with a kill at 17-8. Plummer served an ace between a Fitzmorris kill and Nebraska attack error to jump Stanford’s lead to 20-9. Nebraska sliced four points off the lead, closing to 21-14. Campbell hit a kill of the block to give the Cardinal set points at 24-16, then Alade put up a block to close the set at 25-16. Although Stanford hit just .238 in the third set, the Cardinal limited the Huskers to a .027 efficiency including eight attack errors.

Sweet scored consecutive kills, Stanford committed an error and Foecke slammed a kill to give Nebraska an early 4-0 lead in the fourth set. Out of a Stanford timeout, Nebraska raised its lead to 5-0 on a Cardinal net violation. After Stanford stopped the run, the Huskers scored four straight points with two kills from Stivrins and a combined block from Stivrins and Foecke to go up 9-1. Stanford inched to within five at 14-9 after a Gray service winner, but Sun scored a kill and ace followed by a Sweet kill to raise the Nebraska lead to 17-9. Stivrins slammed a kill and combined with Foecke for a block for a 21-11 Husker lead. Foecke ended the set with a back-row attack at 25-15. Nebraska was on fire in the fourth set with a .412 hitting efficiency with Foecke leading the charge as her kill total reached 23 for the match. Stanford mustered just nine kills with a .121 hitting efficiency in the set.

Nebraska jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fifth set with a Foecke kill and combined block from Sweet and Schwarzenbach. Stanford launched a 4-0 run with a Plummer kill, two Husker attack errors and a Plummer and Alade combined block to take a 5-3 advantage. Nebraska tied the set at 6-all with a Stivrins kill and Cardinal attack error. Sun slammed consecutive kills to tie the set at 9-all. However, Campbell and Plummer downed back-to-back kills to give Stanford an 11-9 advantage. The Cardinal raised their lead to 14-10 with kills from Campbell and Gray followed by an ace from Wilson. Stanford saved two set points to close to 14-12. McClure ended the set with a back-row kill to win 15-12 after Nebraska saved two set points.