Stanford Sweeps Minnesota to Advance to NCAA Regional Semifinal
Dec. 13, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 7 Stanford Cardinal used two late-set runs in the opening and third sets to sweep the No. 10 Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Lexington Regional semifinal, 3-0, (28-26, 25-23) to advance to the Elite Eight at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. This is the second season in a row that the Cardinal have made it to the Elite Eight.
In the first set, Stanford (27-5) captured the early 1-0 lead as the two teams went extra points, with Stanford edging Minnesota (29-7), 28-26. The Golden Gophers staved off three set-points at 24-23, 25-24 and 26-25 before succumbing to the Cardinal attack and dropping the side-out opportunity at 28-26. The Cardinal lead was as big as three points at 12-9 before the Gophers chipped away and tied it late in the set. Brittany Howard led the Cardinal attack with a team-high six attacks in the set. Leading the way for the Golden Gophers was Ashley Wittman, who had seven kills in the opening frame.
Stanford took a commanding 2-0 lead in the match as they used a late-set run to top the Golden Gophers, 25-23. Minnesota led for a large majority of the set, and pushed its lead to three points at 16-13 before the Cardinal responded with a 6-0 run to re-take the lead at 18-16 overall. After the teams exchanged points for the final stages of the set, Stanford called a timeout at 23-23 and won the final two points to collect the 2-0 lead. Every player in the Stanford lineup for the set recorded a kill, with Carly Wopat, Rachel Williams and Jordan Burgess each striking for four kills. Kyle Gilbert had seven digs in the set. Both Wittman and Daly Santana had five kills in the frame for the Gophers, with Santana also collecting a set-high seven digs.
The Cardinal secured the match in straight sets with a 25-22 third set victory after a mid-set run put them comfortably ahead for the duration of the set. The two teams exchanged leads and ties for the early part of the set, before Stanford went on a 5-0 run to go from trailing 8-7, to leading 12-8. After stretching its lead to 19-15, Minnesota collected the next three successive points to pull within two points at 19-17 and force Stanford to use its first timeout of the set. The Gophers closed to within a point at 19-18 after the timeout and then tied the match at 20-20 just two points later. Minnesota forced another Stanford timeout after the Gophers re-claimed the lead at 22-21. Stanford then went on to win the last four points of the match to close the match on a 4-0 run and take the set, 25-22.
Ashley Wittman led the match with 17 kills for Minnestoa, with Kyle Gilbert collecting 20 digs for the Cardinal in the winning effort.
With the win, Stanford advances to the Lexington Regional final against No. 2 Penn State at 4:00 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum.