Sitting fourth in the nation, Stanford women’s volleyball (9-2, 2-0 Pac-12) came into its match against No. 25 Colorado (10-3, 0-2) having only lost sets against Penn State, otherwise dominating opponents with a combination of stellar team defense and powerful outside hitters. On Sunday, however, the Cardinal had to recover from an injury to star sophomore middle blocker Audriana Fitzmorris and battle back to win a close five-set decision 20-25, 25-13, 27-29, 29-27, 15-12.
Stanford struggled in the first set as players filled in for the loss of Fitzmorris, who missed a game for the first time in her career. Fifth-year senior opposite Merete Lutz transitioned to play middle blocker, where she played during her first two seasons as a Cardinal. Lutz stepped up in a big way as the game progressed, notching season-highs with 17 kills and five blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Kathryn Plummer also switched her position, taking over the right side and delivering 18 kills and a career-high 19 digs.
Over the long match, Stanford hit .282 to Colorado’s .181, relying on the team’s offensive depth. Sophomore setter Jenna Gray led the Cardinal throughout the match with her career-high 64 assists, controlling the offense, which saw four Cardinal players finishing with double-digit kills. Four players also recorded double-digit digs. Junior middle blocker Tami Alade had perhaps the best match of her career, topping her previous career-best seven kills with her 17 kills on the day. The junior also finished with nine of Stanford’s 15 blocks. Freshman outside hitter Meghan McClure earned her first career double-double against the Buffaloes, notching 10 kills and 14 digs.
In the must-win fourth and fifth sets, Cardinal defense had to come up big to hold off Colorado, especially junior outside hitter Alexa Smith, who finished with a match-high 25 kills. Sophomore libero Morgan Hentz helped Stanford stay in the match, contributing 18 digs while also scoring her first kill of the season.
After recording sweeps for all previous wins, the Cardinal showed their tremendous depth against Colorado. With a consistent offensive performer in Audriana Fitzmorris out, the team rallied behind season-best performances by Lutz, Plummer, Alade, Gray and McClure to take the hard-fought match. While not the dominant performance of previous victories, Stanford displayed resiliency in one of its hardest matches of the year so far, coming out ahead after a full team effort.
The Cardinal will return home to take on two more Pac-12 Conference opponents this Wednesday against Arizona State and Friday against Arizona. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m.
Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’ stanford.edu.