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Gophers Out-Classed in Final Four

Stanford and Kathryn Plummer overpowered Minnesota as the Cardinal advance to their 17th National Championship match where they’ll face Wisconsin.

2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship Semifinals Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

It’s all over for Minnesota (27-6). A season full of adversity was snuffed out by a talented Stanford (29-4) squad that could seemingly do no wrong; the Cardinal swept Minnesota 25-19, 25-22, 25-22.

Reigning, two-time National Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer certainly could do no wrong hitting .353, putting away 26 kills, pulling up nine digs, and posting five blocks to go with one ace.

Stanford passed well and got good defensive touches so they could score in transition. Libero Morgan Hentz finished with 23 digs and six assists as she bettered the ball with every touch.

Minnesota, on the other hand, could not pass well enough to stay in system or transition and consequently had a much tougher time scoring.

Stanford was dialed in from the start as they picked up three blocks and went up 4-1 in set one. Later a 6-1 run broke it open for the Cardinal, 13-9, as they got two more blocks and two kills from Plummer. The Cardinal kept pumping it to Plummer as they got in a good sideout rhythm and she put away eight kills. Little miscues killed the Gophers although the real issue was passing.

Minnesota started the second set fast going up 8-3 as they got seven kills, three by Alexis Hart. Stanford got back to sideing out and went on a 12-3 run to go in front 17-13. Hugh went to his bench and subbed Airi Miyabe in for Samedy. After a block on Plummer, Miyabe got back-to-back kills for the Gophers. An ace from Kilkelly tied the set at 17. After trading points for a stretch, Stanford closed the set on a 5-2 run. The Gophers couldn’t keep pace with the Stanford offense as they were forced out of system by the Cardinal service game.

Facing a two-set deficit the Gophers kept fighting as best they could. An 8-3 run put Stanford up 14-7 as they executed at a high level. Minnesota answered with a five-point run bookended by blocks but Stanford was finally able to sideout. Minnesota drew within two, three more times but never closer as Stanford stayed in control.

Alexis Hart finished her Gopher career with a 12 kill, three-block effort. Kylie Miller posted a double-double in her last match in the Gopher uniform with 32 assists and 11 digs. Fellow senior Taylor Morgan had limited opportunities offensively finishing with three kills and five blocks. The fourth senior on the roster, Lauren Litzau, did not play.

Stephanie Samedy ended the match with 13 kills and .286 hitting. CC McGraw recorded 17 digs.

Stanford advances to face Wisconsin for the National Championship Saturday at 7:00 CT on ESPN2.