By James Hemker
The top-ranked women’s volleyball team (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) began its 2019 season with a decisive three-set sweep over the College of Charleston (0-1, 0-0 CAA) on Friday night. The 25-9, 25-17, 25-15 win extends Stanford’s unbeaten streak to 33 games.
The rout was led, as expected, by senior outside hitter Kathryn Plummer. The reigning AVCA Player of the Year put away 16 kills on 29 attempts with just four errors for a hitting percentage of .414. She additionally tallied seven digs and a block on the defensive side of the net.
Senior Audriana Fitzmorris continued the domination from her relatively new position at opposite. A year after making the switch from middle blocker, Fitzmorris was the most efficient attacker on the court, slashing 9/1/13.
One of the few areas of uncertainty for the Cardinal was how easily graduate transfer Madeleine Gates would assimilate as one of the new starting middle blockers. The former UCLA All-American established herself quickly in the first set, with three kills and one of two total blocks. Gates ended the night errorless, terminating seven kills on 13 swings, as well as serving up an ace.
Allowing the Cardinal to hit .354 on the night was the team’s field general, Jenna Gray. The senior setter’s 33 assists were 14 more than the entirety of Charleston’s squad. In addition to directing traffic on the court, she brought the heat from the service line with three aces. The team’s service ace leader for the past two seasons, Gray has already grabbed the lead for this season.
Defensively, Stanford smothered the Cougars, who hit just .051 over the three sets, meaning one in 20 swings was a Charleston kill. The best blocking team in the nation a year ago, the Cardinal will look to new members like Gates or sophomore middle blocker Holly Campbell to fill the void left by Tami Alade ’18, who was the second Cardinal woman to reach 200 blocks in a season.
In addition to Gates’ two blocks, Campbell and Fitzmorris paced the floor with three blocks a piece, leading the team to six total blocks. At the net, Gray, sophomore opposite Mackenzie Fidelak, and freshman middle McKenna Vicini each record a block as well.
If the Cougars squeezed a ball to the backcourt, senior libero Morgan Hentz was there, covering nearly every square foot of hardwood and scooping a match-high 14 digs. Where Hentz could not reach, junior outside hitter Meghan McClure and junior defensive specialist Kate Formico stepped in. McClure finished the night with 11 digs, as well as four kills, while Formico dug eight balls and had two service aces.
Stanford will return to the court at Charleston tomorrow afternoon to face Duke (0-1, 0-0 ACC). The Blue Devils dropped their first game of the season to Michigan State in a 3-1 loss. First serve is set for 1:30 pm PT.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.