After winning their NCAA tournament opener on Friday, No. 1 Stanford women’s volleyball (26-4, 19-1 Pac-12) returned to Maples Pavilion on Saturday to face LSU (16-4, 9-9 SEC) in Round 2. Led by a dominant .667 attack percentage on 24 kills from senior opposite and Pac-12 Player of the Year Kendall Kipp, the Cardinal defeated the Tigers in straight sets to reach the Sweet 16.
Stanford, the top seed in its section of the draw and ranked fifth overall in the country, and LSU had each faced some resistance in their opening round victories the previous night. The Tigers bested eighth-seeded Hawaii (22-7, 19-1 BWC) in four sets, while the Cardinal had to put down an offensive surge from Pepperdine (19-11, 10-8 WCC) to earn its place in the next round. But these matchups gave both sides the opportunity to scout their second-round competition.
“They’re athletic, they’re big, they’re going to make some plays,” Stanford redshirt junior outside Caitie Baird said, previewing LSU. “And we’ve just got to stay focused on our side and control what we can.”
And true to Baird’s word, Kipp and the Cardinal controlled everything within their reach.
The senior opposite gave Stanford its first point of the night with a kill. Sophomore setter Kami Miner, recently honored as Pac-12 Setter of the Year, consistently fed the ball to Kipp, who had no problems finding the floor throughout the night. She finished off the first set just as she had started it, with a kill for 25-11.
Kipp struck first for the Cardinal again in set two, followed by Baird with a kill of her own. Stanford’s outside Elia Rubin also got in on the action with four kills in the set. Baird and redshirt junior middle McKenna Vicini teamed up to block LSU’s Hannah Jacobs and bring on set point. Moments later, a Tiger attack error gave Stanford the set comfortably, 25-15, and a 2-0 lead.
LSU raised their level in the third set, finding their first late-game advantage of the match to lead 19-15. The Cardinal fought back, however, as Miner connected with Baird, Kipp and Rubin on the pins to tie the score at 20-all. From there, it was Stanford’s sweep to lose. A kill from Kipp finished off a 10-2 Cardinal scoring run to claim the set 25-21 and the sweep. It marked her 4th kill of the NCAA tournament thus far.
Along with Kipp’s stellar showing, Rubin finished with nine kills and Baird had eight. Miner tallied 45 assists, and junior libero Elena Oglivie posted 19 digs.
Stanford will continue its NCAA campaign in Maples Pavilion on Thursday when the Cardinal will face off against No. 5 Houston (30-3, 19-1 American Conference) for a spot in the Elite Eight.