LEXINGTON, Ky. – The third-ranked Stanford women’s volleyball team knocked out No. 10 Minnesota, 28-26, 25-23, 25-22, Friday, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky., to move on to the Elite Eight. The Cardinal moves to 27-5 overall, while the Golden Gophers finish their season 29-7.
For the second straight season and the third time in the past four years, the Cardinal has advanced to the Regional Final. Stanford has now posted 22 sweeps on the season and is 24-0 when winning the first to sets in a match. The Cardinal has swept nine of its opponents during its current 12-match winning streak.
“I’d like to congratulate Minnesota on a great season, they are really good and really tough,” said head coach John Dunning after the match. “I’m very proud of our team for how we hung together at the end of each set. It’s one of the things we’ve been trying to fight through and become good at. We’re getting better at it.”
Sophomore middle blocker Inky Ajanaku led the team with 12 kills and four blocks on a .348 attack percentage. Senior Carly Wopat and sophomore Brittany Howard added 11 kills apiece. Sophomore outside hitter Jordan Burgess registered nine kills, 17 digs and a season-best four blocks. Senior Rachel Williams totaled seven kills and 12 digs.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a tough match and Minnesota has a different style of play then we’re used to,” said Wopat. “They are very good at seeing the court and making shots, so we had to prepare ourselves for that and I think we did a really good job.”
Sophomore setter Madi Bugg guided the Cardinal with 46 assists to go with seven digs, four kills and tied her season-high with three aces. Junior libero Kyle Gilbert finished with 20 digs, marking her ninth 20-plus dig performance of the season. As a team, Stanford finished with nine blocks to just four by Minnesota. The Cardinal outhit the Golden Gophers, .303 to .254.
Stanford will face No. 2 seed Penn State in the regional final on Saturday, Dec. 14. The Cardinal and Nittany Lions will square off at 1 p.m. PT on ESPNU. Stanford and Penn State are meeting in the Elite Eight for the first time.