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Cardinal rebound with Pac-12 win at Oregon despite missing Kathryn Plummer

Audriana Fitzmorris and Stanford end losing streak

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Bouncing back from a four-set loss against No. 8 Washington that snapped the program’s 26-game Pac-12 win streak, No. 3 Stanford volleyball (8-3, 2-1 Pac-12) found their footing on the road and defeated No. 25 Oregon (5-7, 1-2 Pac-12) on Friday in four sets. 

Despite the absence of senior outside hitter Kathryn Plummer due to injury, the Cardinal opened strongly, claiming the match’s first point off a kill from graduate student middle blocker Madeleine Gates. Gates continued to demonstrate her dominance at the net, adding four more kills and a block to her stats during the first set.

Freshman outside hitter Kendall Kipp and senior opposite Audriana Fitzmorris also showcased their skills, contributing a combined 11 kills in the first set. Despite their efforts, however, the Ducks took the first set 21-25. 

Quickly interrupting Oregon’s momentum, Stanford raced to a 4-0 lead to kick off the second set. Though the Ducks inevitably managed to add 10 of their own to the scoreboard, the Cardinal used 12 assists from senior setter Jenna Gray to continue stretching their lead, avenging their first set loss with a landslide 25-11 second-set victory. 

On the defensive side, senior libero Morgan Hentz acquired 11 digs by the end of set two. Kipp and Gates posted a total of six blocks against an Oregon offense largely led by middle Ronika Stone and outside hitter Brooke Nuneviller. 

The third and fourth sets — which Stanford claimed with 25-19, 25-19 victories — were seemingly played by a different Cardinal team than that which fell to No. 8 Washington. Against the Huskies, the Cardinal offense hit a weak .111, but no mercy was shown against the Ducks as Stanford ended Friday’s match hitting 0.296 despite the absence of Plummer — the team’s offensive star. 

Thirty-two of the team’s 61 total kills came from Fitzmorris and Kipp, who each turned in 16. For Kipp, the game was a career night, as she set new highs in kills, points (18), and blocks (four).

Fitzmorris’ impressive offensive performance was just as noteworthy on the stats sheet; Fitzmorris was error-free until a monstrous outside block in the fourth set handed the Stanford senior her only attack error of the night. Without Plummer on the court, the Cardinal relied heavily on Fitzmorris’ experience and talent throughout all four sets. Her .500 hitting signified her best performance since the first game of the season. 

Returning to her six-rotation role from a year ago, junior outside hitter Meghan McClure played a major part in filling the offensive void. Despite a rough first set with no kills and four errors, McClure came into her own and finished with 13 kills, four blocks and two aces — all season-bests.

Controlling the offense with 47 assists, Gray also got in on the action with with four kills on seven attempts for .571 hitting.

Also an improvement from Sunday was Stanford’s defensive presence at the net, tallying 13 blocks against the Ducks, as opposed to only 9.5 against the Huskies. 

The back line was commanded by Hentz, who paced the team with 19 digs. Senior outside hitter Caitlin Keefe replaced Plummer in the back row and turned in 13 digs of her own. McClure, Fitzmorris and junior defensive specialist Kate Formico each tallied nine digs as the Cardinal racked up 72 digs, their second-highest match total this year.

A quick turnaround, the Cardinal now gears up for a Saturday match against Oregon State. With an opportunity to end their northern trip on a two-game winning streak, Stanford takes on the Beavers at 6:00 p.m. PT in Corvallis.

Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu

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