PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kathryn Plummer had 26 kills and defending champion Stanford swept Minnesota 25-19, 25-22, 25-22 on Thursday night to reach the NCAA women’s volleyball final.
Stanford (29-4) will face Wisconsin on Saturday night, seeking its third title in four years and ninth overall. The Cardinal also beat the Gophers (27-6) in the 2016 semifinals.
Plummer, the reigning AVCA player of the year, hit .353% on 51 total touches and also had nine digs and five blocks. Her final kill was a back-row strike that just snuck inside the end line for the match point.
Even when Plummer wasn’t killing the Gophers, she drew the Minnesota defensive focus.
“There was lots of spaces that got created because you had to look for her in the front row, the back row, and even if she was on the bench, I’m sure she could probably kill it from over there.” Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon said.
Defensively, Stanford was just as dominant. The Cardinal set the tone with eight blocks in the first set. Morgan Hentz had 23 digs, Meghan McClure added 15 and the Cardinal held Minnesota to a .164 hitting percentage.
“I thought our block did a good job early of getting low and over really fast,” Hentz said. “As time went on, I think we were able to see the hitters and their arm swings a little bit better and we were able to scrap with them more.”
Stanford has been to the title game 16 times, going 8-8. It won back-to-back titles in 1996 and 1997. The appearance in the final four was the fourth straight for the Cardinal seniors, including Plummer.
“Because we’ve been here four times, we can kind of hand down our experience to the players that haven’t done that,” Plummer said. “Our freshmen and sophomores haven’t been here as much as we have. I think we can give them some wisdom.”
Stephane Samedy led Minnesota with 13 kills, and Alexis Hart had 12. CC McGraw had 17 digs.