This week, we will present our inaugural end-of-season VolleyMob awards, starting with our Third-Team and Second-Team All-America honors. For each level of All-America recognition, we’ve selected six players plus a libero. The week will culminate with us naming our National Freshman and National Player of the Year.
After dropping to 10-5 midway through the season, Stanford needed a change — and freshman setter Jenna Gray was the answer.
The Cardinal switched from a 6-2 offense with two setters to a 5-1 system, with Gray taking the reins as primary setter.
Although it was perhaps a radical call — coach John Dunning went with Gray over senior Kelsey Humphreys — it made a difference. Since October 23, Stanford went 16-1, culminating in a national championship title.
“We made it in the middle of a match, but I think everyone was willing to help each other out,” Gray told The Mercury News. “Luckily, we have a lot players on this team that can fill a lot of different roles, so that was really helpful.”
Gray finished with 1,173 total assists and 9.09 assists per game — good for third and fourth in the Pac-12, respectively.
Gray recorded a season-high 57 assists against UCLA on Nov. 12 and against Wisconsin on Dec. 10. She added 57 kills this season on a .474 clip, along with 19 aces, 220 digs, and 55 blocks.
Gray graduated from St. James Academy in Lenexa, Kansas, where her team captured the state championship in 2012, 2013, and 2015, finishing as runners-up in 2014. She was part of an elite freshman class that has bonded at Stanford.
“Kathryn [Plummer], Morgan [Hentz], and I all have the same exact class schedule this quarter, so there’s been days where we’ve been together from breakfast till dinner, then studying afterward and we’ll go to bed,” Gray told The Mercury News. “The upperclassmen make a lot of jokes at it because we’re together 24/7.”
Jenna Gray and Audriana Fitzmorris were 3x state champs at St. James Academy, now National Champions for Stanford. ???? pic.twitter.com/WJaU89FyJo
— Sean Boston (@Sean_Boston_23) December 18, 2016