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Cardinal steam roll Arizona State despite missing Plummer, Fitzmorris

By and

The No. 2  women’s volleyball team (11-3, 5-1 Pac-12) was able to stretch their win streak to 4 games, beating Arizona State (10-7, 2-4 Pac-12) in three sets at Maples Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.. After eight straight games without a sweep, the team has swept their past three matches, including this 25-18, 25-21, 25-22 victory. 

Despite senior outside hitter Kathryn Plummer and opposite senior Audriana Fitzmorris both sidelined, four Cardinal attackers tallied at least nine kills, and all four hit at least north of .300. Junior outside hitter Meghan McClure led the charge for Stanford, pacing the team with 12 kills on .333 hitting and a service ace. After a first set where she slashed 6/1/9, McClure left the game part way through the second, appearing to twist her ankle, but she returned a few points later and finished out the match.

“The outsides have been working a lot on hitting out-of-system balls and making smart shots,” said McClure. “I think I got a lot of those out-of-system balls today, so it was really nice that we had worked on that all week.”

Getting the start in place of Fitzmorris was sophomore opposite Mackenzie Fidelak, who made the most of her chance with a career-best 11 kills. The other young pin hitter, freshman outside hitter Kendall Kipp tore apart the Sun Devils’ defense, slashing 11/1/16 for a career-high .625 hitting percentage.

“[Fidelak] came in and did a great job for us,” said head coach Kevin Hambly. “Then [McClure] goes down and we didn’t bat an eyelash, so I just think throughout all that adversity we did a really nice job.”

One of the most improved points of attack for Stanford came out of the middles. Graduate middle blocker Madeline Gates had a standout performance, as she recorded 9 kills on 18 swings with just a single error. Sophomore Holly Campbell found success in the slide again, tallying six more kills for Stanford..

“I think the key has just been lots of repetition,” said Gates. “The middle to setter connection is always a little rocky at the beginning, but now we’ve had enough games under our belt where I think it’s pretty strong.”

In the middle of all of this, senior setter Jenna Gray directed the Cardinal to one of their best offensive performances of the season. The field general’s 39 assists paved the way for the team’s 52 kills on .398 hitting. Additionally, Gray dug 12 balls, a match high, for her fifth double-double of the year.

“Under the circumstances with Fitzmorris being out, I thought we played great,” said head coach Kevin Hambly. “To get a 3-0 team against that team is tough.”

Arizona State entered the match with a clear offensive gameplan, and they were able to execute it. The Sun Devils avoided the center of the court, where senior libero Morgan Hentz patrolled, and instead targeted the lines. Hentz finished with just six digs, her lowest total since Arizona State last came to the Farm in her sophomore year.

Despite getting dropped in three sets, the Sun Devils terminated 45 kills while hitting .317 which stands as the best hitting percentage an opponent has recorded against the Cardinal all year. McClure contributed seven digs, and Fidelak and junior defensive specialist Kate Formico each added six more. 

“We didn’t play great defensively and they did everything they could to avoid Morgan, which is really, really smart,” said Hambly. “That was a very, very offensive match and it’s a good thing we’re better offensively.”

The Cardinal block never really found its footing, as the team finished with just seven despite 104 swings from the opposition. Of those blocks, Campbell had her hand in five and McClure was credited with four.

The women’s volleyball team is back in action at home at 8 p.m. on Friday against Colorado.

Contact Gerzain Gutierrez at gerzain ‘at’ stanford.edu and James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.

James Hemker '21 is a Managing Editor of Sports. A computer science major, he has made the cross-country journey to the Farm from Baltimore, MD. After being tortured for years by the Redskins, Browns, and Orioles, the wide successes of the Cardinal have shown him that the teams you root for can in fact win championships. Contact James at jahemker 'at' stanford.edu.