The first semifinal match up of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament comes between No. 2 Minnesota and No. 6 Stanford.
Each team is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament, as Minnesota has made 21 tournament appearances and Stanford with their 36th consecutive NCAA postseason appearance.
Road so far: Minnesota has had a fairly easy road to the final four. Their first two matches were sweeps to tournament new-comers North Dakota, then to Hawaii. Their toughest test of the tournament so far has come to No. 15 Missouri in a four set match. Their Elite Eight opponent No. 10 UCLA was a tough three set battle that ended with a ball to the face hit by Sarah Wilhite.
No. 2 @GopherVBall swept No. 10 UCLA to set up a national semifinal meeting with No. 6 Stanford: https://t.co/pNMugZv0jc #NCAAVB pic.twitter.com/9juQHzQXGC
— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) December 11, 2016
Who to watch: Senior Sarah Wilhite has been dominate for the Golden Gophers this season, leading them through the tournament with 61 kills. Wilhite is also averaging 4.69 kills per set this postseason. Libero Dalianliz Roasdo has scooped up 65 digs for the Gophers, a team that picks up 18.54 digs per set.
Setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson has dished out 12.85 assists per set this post season, earning Big Ten Setter of the Year accolades. Middle blocker Paige Tapp is a force to be reckoned with in the front row, having put down 3.0 kills her set in this postseason and a total of 1.08 blocks per set this season.
Road so far: Stanford’s first two rounds were quick 3-0 matches over Denver and Boise State. Their third round match came to Florida State, who had just come off an upset against No. 11 Florida, but the Cardinals prevailed in four. Their toughest test came in the Elite Eight against No. 3 seed Wisconsin. The match was an 0-2 comeback for the Cards.
Who to watch: Senior Inky Ajanaku has been a dominate presence for Stanford, with her biggest coming against Wisconsin, where she put down 20 kills on a .447 hitting percentage and 11 blocks. Recently selected AVCA Freshman of the Year Kathryn Plummer. She led the team with 10 double-doubles on the season and recorded team-best kills in 21 of the 32 matches this season.
Merete Lutz is another to pay attention to, with 2.31 kills per set and 1.03 blocks per set this season she is a steady contender for the Cardinals.
Here at VolleyMob we have been watching these teams play all season and are ready to make our prediction for the winner of this semifinal match.
With how dominate they have been playing these past four matches of the tournament and ending their regular season play at No. 1 in the AVCA poll, we at VolleyMob select Minnesota to head to the finals.
In their final regular season matches, the then No. 2 team in the nation, faced No. 1 Nebraska and No. 3 Wisconsin at home. While at home, the team went five with each team, prevailing in the end. Their first four rounds of the tournament have us believing they are going to continue their tremendous play into the final rounds of the tournament.
You can watch them take on the Cardinals Thursday, December 15 at 7:30 PM ET on ESPN.