Ogonna Nnamani had 29 kills to lead Stanford to the NCAA women's volleyball championship with a 30-23, 30-27, 30-21 victory over Minnesota yesterday at the Long Beach Arena. The 11th-seeded Cardinal needed...
LONG BEACH, Calif. Ogonna Nnamani had 29 kills to lead Stanford to the NCAA women’s volleyball championship with a 30-23, 30-27, 30-21 victory over Minnesota yesterday at the Long Beach Arena.
The 11th-seeded Cardinal needed rallies in the second and third games to win. The victory marked the 15th consecutive win and sixth NCAA title for Stanford (30-6)
Nnamani, the national player of the year, was voted the tournament’s most outstanding player after setting an NCAA record with 62 kills in the semifinal and final matches. Stanford beat Washington in Thursday’s semifinal round.
Danielle Scott of Long Beach State, the previous record holder, had 55 kills in 1991.
“Ogonna was spectacular,” said Minnesota coach Mike Hebert, whose fourth-seeded team was making its first title-game appearance.
“She just wears you down. There are very few people who can attack the ball with the height that she can attack it and play such a smooth, even game in terms of demeanor.”
Nnamani, a member of the United States’ 2004 Olympic team that tied for fifth place in Athens, Greece, used that disappointing finish as motivation.
“Athens was an incredible experience and a very sad ending,” Nnamani said.
“I never forgot how that felt and I wanted to try to do whatever I possibly could not to lose again.”
Stanford coach John Dunning said, “Once in awhile, you get rewarded by being the last team standing. We’re just lucky that it’s us.”
Freshman setter Bryn Kehoe had 48 assists for Stanford and Courtney Schultz contributed 14 digs.
Erin Martin and Trisha Bradford each had 13 kills for the Golden Gophers (33-5).
Minnesota’s Paula Gentil, the NCAA season record holder with 924 digs, left the match in the third game.
Hebert said Gentil injured her neck diving for a ball.
The Gophers held a 27-25 lead before the Cardinal scored five consecutive points to take the second game.
Nnamani scored three points on two kills and a block.
In the third game, the teams were tied at 18 when Nnamani made three kills and Kehoe scored a service ace to put Stanford ahead 22-18. Martin’s kill narrowed the margin to 22-19, but Minnesota committed four successive attacking errors and the Cardinal built a 26-19 lead.