LEXINGTON, Ky. – In what most would call a Final Four caliber match-up, the third-ranked Stanford women’s volleyball team fell in five sets (25-22, 22-25, 26-28, 25-18, 11-15) to No. 2 Penn State, Saturday, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. The Cardinal ends its season 27-6 overall, while the Nittany Lions (32-2) advance to the Final Four.
“That was a great match. I want to congratulate Penn State. They are in that position every year and I wish them well in the final four,” said head coach John Dunning. “I’d like to congratulate my team as well. I thought that was a wonderful match we played. We played with our hearts and put everything that we had out on the floor. I know how hard they worked to get here. As a coach, what you want is people to be able to enjoy the things that they worked so hard for and when you get to here and you can’t, it’s tough.”
Senior Rachel Williams and sophomore Jordan Burgess led Stanford with 17 kills apiece. They both notched double-doubles as Burgess registered 18 digs, while Williams finished with 12. Sophomore middle blocker Inky Ajanaku registered 11 kills and seven blocks, while senior Carly Wopat totaled 11 kills and six blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Brittany Howard finished with five kills, 18 digs and five blocks.
“Going into the match, we knew we were going to have to battle the entire time. We knew it was going to be a fight until the end, and I’m glad it turned out that way,” said Ajanaku. “Although it didn’t end up the way that we wanted, I am really proud of my team. We fought back when a lot of people thought we were done, and that’s just how we play. We were not going to go down without a fight.”
Stanford is now 7-8 all-time against Penn State, including 2-4 in NCAA Tournament matches. The Cardinal outhit the Nittany Lions .221 to .187. Penn State won out in the block column, 15.0 to 13.0. Stanford has fallen in the Regional Final in three of the past four seasons.
Senior Ariel Scott led Penn State with 22 kills and eight digs, while junior setter Micha Hancock racked up 58 assists, 15 digs, four blocks and two aces. Senior outside hitter Deja McClendon added 21 kills, 16 digs and four blocks, while hitting .316.
Bugg and Burgess represented Stanford on the all-tournament team. McCelendon was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding player, while Penn State’s Scott and Hancock were all-tournament selections. Minnesota’s Ashley Wittman and Michigan State’s Allyssah Fetterer also received all-tournament honors.