It has been a whirlwind start to the season for the Stanford Women’s volleyball team. The defending 2016 NCAA champions welcomed their new head coach Kevin Hambly, who was previously the head coach at Illinois last year. Hambly has lead the No. 4 Cardinal (6-2) to a strong start for the 2017-18 season. The team returns five starters, including sophomore Kathryn Plummer, who was the AVCA National Freshman of the Year last year; redshirt senior and three-time All-American Merete Lutz; and sophomore Audriana Fitzmorris (AVCA).
The season began on Aug. 25, and very quickly the team gathered three-consecutive sweeps over Long Beach State, Iowa and Wright State. Unfortunately, the Cardinal’s streak was halted as it fell to No. 3 Penn State 1-3 on Sept. 1. Stanford and Penn State are the only two teams that have appeared in every NCAA tournament since 1981. Both teams have won seven NCAA championships, the most of any team. Stanford, however, has appeared in the most championship games of any team at 15 times.
The team rallied after the disappointing loss to Penn State with two more sweeps, this time against Texas A&M and Illinois. However, Penn State has been a thorn in Stanford’s side, and again they beat the Cardinal 3-2 on September 9. Penn State now leads the all-time series against Stanford 12-9. Despite Plummer having her third double-double of the season with 20 kills and 10 digs, it was not enough. The Cardinal hit just .186 against the Nittany Lions.
Ever resilient, Stanford bounced back to win its home-opener in Maples Pavilion on Sept. 15, sweeping Pacific. Lena Gray served a career-high five aces, while Plummer and freshman Meghan McClure added two more apiece. Stanford followed up this victory with another sweep against St. Mary’s on Sept. 16. Plummer continued her hot start to the season with 20 kills in the win.
Up next, the team will then hit the road to face Colorado on Sept. 24.
Contact Matthew Bernstein at mbernste ‘at’ stanford.edu