- Stanford defeats Texas 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 18-25, 25-21)
- Stanford earns 7th NCAA title in program history
- Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
A battle of strength-on-strength saw a stalwart Stanford defensive front edge Texas’s booming offensive attack for a 3-1 win in the NCAA Tournament final Saturday night.
A towering Stanford lineup that featured three players over 6-foot-6 was able to effectively stifle a Texas offense that had run roughshod over opponents all tournament long.
It was a match of streaks, with each team making competing runs in a number of back-and-forth sets. But it was Stanford that hit its stride at the right time, going on major runs to end the first and second sets after points were extremely tight in the early goings. The Cardinal pressed its height advantage at the net all night, outhitting Texas .216 to .182 in the first set and .366 to .206 in the second set.
But after a trip to the locker room down 0-2, Texas began to rally just as it has multiple times this season. The third set went almost entirely in the Longhorns’ favor, with the team’s hitting percentage jumping to .344 and the team notching 16 kills as a unit.
The fourth, though, saw the sleeping giants of Stanford wake up. A 6-0 early run put Texas in a big hole, and the Longhorns were forced to play catchup for the remainder of the set. Texas ran it back as close as 19-15 at one point and denied Stanford two match points late. But a kill from national freshman of the year Kathryn Plummer went off the hands of Texas’s block unit and out of bounds to give the Cardinal a 3-1 victory.
Stanford’s crew was a mix of the extremes – youth and experience. Plummer led a group of 4 freshman who saw significant time in the final: Plummer, Jenna Gray, Morgan Hentz and Adriana Fitzmorris all played all four sets as rookies for the Cardinal. On the other end, redshirt senior Inky Ajanaku was the clear leader on the court, controlling the huddle and firing up Stanford at every momentum swing.
Plummer would finish with 18 kills and Ajanaku with 16 to lead the national champs. Hentz was the defensive star with a game-high 27 digs.
Texas’s duo of Micaya White and Ebony Nwabenu were unstoppable, especially when both were playing in the front row. White had 17 kills and Nwabenu 16, and White’s 11 digs gave her a clutch double double.