PITTSBURGH, Pa. – No. 3 Stanford swept No. 4 Wisconsin to win its second straight national championship, third in four seasons and ninth in program history on Saturday night. The Cardinal swept the Badgers, 25-16, 25-17, 25-20, to repeat as national champions for the first time since 1996-97.
Kathryn Plummer once again led the way, totaling 22 kills on a dominating .459 hitting percentage. She added 10 digs and three blocks. Graduate transfer Madeleine Gates hit .529 with 10 kills, finishing six NCAA Tournament matches with just one attack error. Morgan Hentz had 17 digs and Meghan McClure added 13, while Jenna Gray led the way with 39 assists. As a team, the Cardinal hit .358 to Wisconsin's .152.
"I think the overwhelming feeling I have right now is I'm kind of sad that this time with these great young women to my right and the rest of the seniors is over," said head coach Kevin Hambly. "I'm certainly glad that we can go out the way that we did. For them, it's amazing. And they played amazing, all three of them, and all the seniors played great tonight, as well as the rest of the team. Going to miss them as people."
The Cardinal was dominant all night, and all tournament long. After going to five sets with Utah in the Sweet 16, Stanford proceeded to sweep three straight Big Ten programs, Penn State, Minnesota and Wisconsin, en route to the championship.
Stanford went up 10-4 early in the first set on Saturday night and cruised to a 25-16 victory. In the second set, the Cardinal dominated with a 25-17 win. The third set was much more competitive, as Wisconsin took an early 8-6 lead before Stanford scored six straight to lead 12-8. The Badgers battled back to tie the score at 17-17, but the Cardinal closed it out by scoring eight of the final 11 points to win the match.
The senior class became the second in program history to win three national titles in their four seasons. This year's senior class finished their careers with a record of 121-16, including a 22-1 record in the NCAA Tournament.
"Obviously it feels incredible," said Gray during the postmatch press conference. "I feel it's a whirlwind of emotions. We took a different path than I was expecting. The season didn't go really how I expected it to go at all, but I think the ending is all that matters. So perfect ending for us."
Plummer was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player for the second straight season. She was joined on the all-tournament team by Gray and Hentz. Baylor's Yossiana Pressley, Minnesota's Alexis Hart and Wisconsin's Molly Haggerty and Dana Rettke were also named all-tournament.
Hambly becomes the seventh head coach all-time to lead a school to back-to-back titles, joining Russ Rose (Penn State), Mick Haley (USC), Don Shaw (Stanford), Andy Banachowski (UCLA), John Dunning (Pacific) and Dave Shoji (Hawai'i).
Women's volleyball's title was Stanford's third NCAA crown this fall, as they joined men's water polo and women's soccer to claim the championship. Stanford has now won 126 NCAA Championships (67 men, 59 women) and 152 national championships overall.