The Florida State Seminoles won a thrilling first set against #6 Stanford, but the Cardinal ended the FSU upset run with three straight set wins to move to the Elite Eight. ArchivePhoto via Stanford Athletics
#6 Stanford defeats Florida State 3-1 (25-27, 25-20, 25-9, 25-23)
Stanford advances to the regional final against #3 Wisconsin
UW Fieldhouse, Madison, Wisconsin
The Florida State Seminoles won a thrilling first set against #6 Stanford, but the Cardinal ended the FSU upset run with three straight set wins to move to the Elite Eight.
Stanford hit just .115 in the first set, but topped .350 in each of the next two sets to build a lead. Stanford’s Inky Ajanakuand Kathryn Plummer had 17 and 15 kills a piece, respectively. Meanwhile Morgan Hentzhad 27 digs defensively.
Florida State struggled to convert chances all night, hitting a meager .115 for the match and finishing the third set with a hitting percentage of -.125, with 12 errors and just 7 kills. Natasha Calkinsdid have 12 kills and hit a solid .241 for the match. Cecelie Woie led in digs with 21.
With UCLA beating UNC in the final match of the night, the ACC is now completely eliminated from the tournament. Stanford is one of three Pac-12 teams left – tied with the Big Ten for the national lead. The regional finals take place Saturday, with the field pared down to just 4 teams by Sunday morning.
Florida State’s first set was the first set any team has taken off of Stanford so far this tournament. Only one team is undefeated in sets (Washington at 9-0) and Stanford and Minnesota have each dropped a single set.
MADISON, Wis. – No. 9 Stanford outlasted No. 16 Florida State 25-27, 25-20, 25-9, 25-23 on Friday afternoon at UW Fieldhouse, punching its ticket to the program’s first NCAA Regional final since 2014 and 12th since the current NCAA championship format was put in place (1998).
Standing in the way between Stanford (24-7) and its 20th NCAA Final Four appearance will be regional host No. 3 Wisconsin (28-4). The Cardinal and Badgers square off Saturday, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m. PT in the regional final on ESPNU.
Redshirt senior Inky Ajanaku tallied a season-high 17 kills on a .538 hitting percentage. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native also recorded four blocks and is just one shy of reaching 600 for her career. She will have the chance to become just the fourth player in program history to reach the 600 blocks plateau on Saturday.
Gray controlled the Cardinal offense, which hit .247 for the match, with 45 assists. She also had a career-high five kills and her fifth double-double of the season. Freshman libero Morgan Hentz matched her career-high with 27 digs for the third time this season and put down a career-high five aces. Stanford held Florida State to a .115 attack percentage and out blocked the Seminoles, 11.0 to 3.0.
Florida State (26-6) gained an early advantage, capturing a hard-fought first set at 27-25. It was the first time Stanford had dropped a set since a 3-2 loss to UCLA back on Nov. 12, with the Cardinal sweeping its previous six opponents.
After countering with a 25-20 victory in the second set, Stanford seized momentum with a convincing 25-9 triumph in the third set. In that pivotal frame, the Cardinal raced out to a 14-6 lead, tallied the next five points and closed it out on the strength of a kill from Lutz from the middle.
How dominant was Stanford in the third set? Florida State’s nine points were the fewest allowed by Stanford in NCAA Tournament competition since Dec. 5, 2008, when the Cardinal dominated Albany 25-9 in the first set of a sweep.
The competitive fourth set featured 15 ties and seven lead changes. Trailing 22-20 and 23-22, the Cardinal won the final three points of the set, including the game-winner on an attack error by the Seminoles.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State’s Natasha Calkins drove home a team-high 12 kills and Milica Kubura added 11, but it was Stanford’s trio of Inky Ajanaku (17 kills), Kathryn Plummer (15) and Merete Lutz (10) that proved to be the difference as the sixth-ranked Cardinal (24-7) earned a 25-27, 20-25, 9-25, 23-25 victory over the 16th-ranked Seminoles at UW Field House in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Florida State closed out the 2016 slate at 26-6 overall and 17-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference action, reaching the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in program history. The Seminoles also graduated four seniors including Mara Green, Katie Horton, Melanie Keil and Hailey Luke.
Calkins’ offensive performance against the Cardinal was one kill shy of her career high, while Kubura topped double-digit kills for the 19th time this season. Horton added eight kills for the Florida State offense as she closes out her career with 1,207 kills. Luke was also vital for the flow, leading the Seminole lineup with 23 assists, as she capped off a four-year career with 2,580 assists.
Junior Cecilie Woie anchored the back row with 21 digs as she tallied her eighth 20-dig outing of the season. Teammate Madison Sullivan also reached double figures with 14, tying her career-high. Horton rounded out back row defenders with 14 digs as she ends her indoor career with 1,079 to her credit.
Keil converted two assisted blocks in her final game with the Seminoles to wrap up her career with 391 assisted blocks and 415 total blocks. Green also contributed a block, along with her five kills, to finish off her career with 442 kills and 253 total blocks (228 assisted blocks).
“Obviously, you’re always disappointed whenever you lose at the end. I think this team overcame a lot all year,” said head coach Chris Poole. “I mean, we constantly were having to shift our lineup and make some changes because of different things that were going on during the season that we can’t control. That’s just part of the game. That’s part of being able to step up and figure out a way to keep winning.”
Trailing by three points early in the fourth frame with Horton in serve, Stanford committed three unforced errors while Keil and Kubura converted a block to provide the Seminoles with a one-point lead. Following an Audriana Fitzmorris block, which tied the game at 10, the two teams evenly traded the next 20 points and endured 11 ties to reach a 20-all deadlock.
Calkins and Horton responded with a series of offensive strikes, stretching the Florida State lead to two as Stanford burned its final timeout. Three Cardinal kills, including a go-ahead strike by Ivana Vanjak, made for a 24-23 set point. Stanford close out the victory on an unforced error and advances to the Elite Eight to face Wisconsin.
A solid defensive effort, which included 19 digs, teamed with offensive performance that resulted in 12 kills and a .355 hitting percentage was instrumental in giving Stanford a victory in the third set and a 2-1 lead in the match. The Cardinal received three kills each from Ajanaku and Lutz to highlight the offensive outburst.
The Cardinal scored 18 of the first 24 points in the third, forcing a pair of timeouts as it establishing a double-digit lead. Kills by Calkins and Keil made for the final two Seminole points as Stanford completed the decisive 16-point win.
Behind two kills from Lutz the Cardinal opened the second set on a 7-3 run, resulting in a quick Florida State timeout. Strikes by Green and Keil looked to get the offense back on track for the Seminoles, but three kills by Kathryn Plummer kept Stanford in the lead, 18-13.
Two Kubura kills combined with strikes from Florida State’s front row combination of Calkins and Miljevic helped trim the deficit to three, 23-20. A timeout by the Cardinals followed by back-to-back kills by Ajanaku and Fitzmorris knotted the match at 1-1.
The two teams endured three ties inside the first 10 points, reaching a five-all deadlock, before a kill by Calkins and two unforced errors by the Cardinal provided Florida State with an 8-5 advantage. An ace from Luke coupled with strikes by Green, Calkins and Keil, stretched the Seminoles’ advantage to 13-9, forcing a Stanford timeout.
Transitions during the Cardinal timeout resulted in a 9-5 run, bringing the set to an 18-all tie. Horton drove home two kills and Sullivan added an ace to give Florida State a 22-19 led. Stanford rallied and fought off two set points before a kill by Kubura and an unforced error by Audriana Fitzmorris provided the two-point victory for the Seminoles.
For more information visit Facebook (Florida State Seminoles Volleyball), Twitter (FSU_Volleyball) and Instagram (FSUvolleyball).