Defending Champ Stanford Aiming For 8th Title; Stanford Region Preview

  0 Kyp Harasymowycz | November 27th, 2017 | ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, Division I Mid-Major, News, Pac 12

The Stanford Cardinal have earned the #3 overall seed for the 2017 edition of the NCAA Tournament, and are looking to defend their 2016 National Championship starting at 10PM Eastern/7PM Pacific Time Friday, December 1. According to predetermined rules for the Division I Tournament, as long as Stanford continues to win, they could host the first four rounds leading up to the Final Four, which will be in Kansas City. If Stanford falls in either of the first two rounds, the host would then be the next highest seed, which in this region would be #6 Texas, #11 Utah or #14 Iowa State, in that order.


This is a no-brainer. Until someone legitimately knows how to slow down the offensive juggernaut that is 6-6 outside hitter Kathryn Plummer (4.7 kps, .313, 475 kills) and account for 6-8 opposite Merete Lutz (2.99 kps, .324, 254), this region is Stanford’s to lose. Stanford went 26-3 on the season, with their only losses being to Penn State (#1 overall seed) twice and Washington (#8 overall seed). Not a bad resume.

Their pod for the first two rounds starts with Cal State Bakersfield, the champion from the Western Athletic Conference. What remains is the winner between Colorado State and Michigan. Stanford should go comfortably into the Sweet 16 without too much trouble. Next would be a match-up against Iowa State, followed by a hungry Texas program in the Elite Eight. Barring anything extraordinary, Stanford should be making a repeat appearance in the Final Four this year.


Texas won the Big 12 by three full games over Baylor, the #12 seed in the tournament. Their 24-2 record shows their only blemishes to be at #2 seed Florida and at home to #7 seed Minnesota. Their 18-straight wins heading into the tournament is impressive, as they have won ugly, won quickly, won in a dogfight, and won easily. The multi-headed offense the Longhorns bring four attackers with 2.5+ kills per set. All four of those hitters (Lexi Sun, Micaya White, Ebony Nwanebu and Chiaka Ogbogu) have hit better than .275 this season. This highly efficient offense isn’t one-dimensional, either. Texas also leads the country in blocks per set (3.25). Texas should not be threatened before meeting Stanford in the Elite Eight.

Utah, who finished fourth in the ever-tough conference that is the Pac-12, earned the #11 overall seed and will host in Salt Lake City for the first time since 2005. They may see a tough and big Purdue team in the second round, but playing at altitude at home should be a huge advantage for the Utes. They’re also an efficient bunch, with two attackers in the top 10 in hitting percentage in the Pac-12 in Tawnee Laufalemana (.364) and Berkeley Oblad (.316). Only Stanford has more in the top 10, with 3.

And then there’s Iowa State. Finishing tied for third with Kansas in the Big 12, their 21-6 record includes wins over tournament participants Creighton, Pitt, Wichita State, Kansas and North Dakota. Their only non-conference loss was to Northern Iowa in 5 sets, who is also in this year’s tournament. Iowa State always schedules tough to prepare for the end of the season. Do the Cyclones have enough experience to make it past Stanford in the Sweet 16?


I love this match-up. Stanford, the defending champion, against Texas, seeking to make their second-straight national championship match, which happened to be against Stanford last year. Stanford’s size against Texas’ athleticism. Stanford uses aggression, strength and size to beat you. Texas just jumps over you. If you don’t like this match-up, we can’t be friends. Hambly, the 1st year coach at Stanford, against Elliott, who is Longhorn Volleyball. Should be a fun one.


I’d have bricks launched through my front window if I failed to mention any Big Ten schools while typing this in Central Indiana. Purdue’s size and relentlessness can give anyone fits, as 6-4 Danielle Cuttino can hit from anywhere. 6-6 Sherridan Atkinson came on late in the season, and proved to be an effective blocker, attacker and server (She ended the Boiler’s last regular season match against Michigan State with an ace). 6-1 setter Ashley Evans fills up the stat sheet nightly, and Purdue has knocked off more top-10 programs this year than any other in the history of the program (they’re up to four, for now.).

But what about the Badgers? They claim huge wins as well, knocking off tournament participants Louisville, Marquette (their first round match), Michigan, Nebraska (the Huskers’ only conference loss) and Illinois. But their inconsistencies on the outside might doom them. Lauryn Gillis can hit career-highs one night and hit in the negative the next night (Check her most recent matches against IU and Purdue). Kelli Bates can only do so much, but are the Badgers asking too much of her? This should be the Dana Rettke show for Wisconsin, but they have to get past Marquette first.


The Wisconsin/Marquette match alone makes this the toughest pod. How these two teams, located just a few miles from each other, survive the other will determine was Iowa State can do. Iowa State will knock off Princeton Friday night, but their recovery and preparation time will be shorter than either of the Wisconsin schools. If the Wisconsin/Marquette match turns into a dogfight this late in the season, there might be a lack of energy against Iowa State. If one of the Wisconsin teams sweeps the other, the recovery time will have them more than ready for the host Cyclones.


  1. Wisconsin vs. Marquette
  2. Colorado State vs. Michigan
  3. High Point vs. Purdue
  4. Oregon State vs. N.C. State


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