Stanford’s celebration of another NCAA Division I volleyball title should include delivery of a fruit basket, flowers, chocolates ... something ... to a couple of addresses in the Kansas City area.
The Cardinal survived an epic five-set match against Nebraska at Minneapolis’ Target Center on Saturday night thanks in large part to the efforts of a pair of St. James Academy products: Audriana Fitzmorris and Jenna Gray.
Stanford collected its eighth championship, and second of the Gray/Fitzmorris tenure, with a gritty victory in front of 18,000-plus fans.
This one, representing the most Division I championships ever for an NCAA program, did not come easily. Really, it was gut-check time all night. The Huskers forced the deciding fifth set with a fourth-set triumph, but Stanford outlasted the defending champs in set five.
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Fitzmorris finished with 14 kills, and Gray was a leader on the floor all night, too.
“She’s the best leader a team can have,” Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer, the two-time national player of the year, said of Gray in the postgame TV interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe.
Said Stanford coach Kevin Hambly, who won his first national title, “We scrapped. I’m really proud of how they came back after a fourth-set (loss). ... Jenna, and KP (Plummer), and Fitzmorris ... If you’re telling me when you’re 14 years old that you don’t want to be in this moment ... this is why you came to Stanford.”