The NCAA Volleyball National Championship has had a history of exciting matches. Last year Stanford pulled out a tightly-contested 3-2 win over Nebraska. This year, their Championship match was not as close. Stanford won both the semifinal and final in convincing fashion. The statistics in the two matches looked similar:
Sideout Key Factors, Semifinal vs Minnesota
Sideout Key Factors, Final vs Wisconsin
Most teams rely on winning the serve-pass battle in order to win the match. Stanford doesn’t. They are so good out-of-system, that even though Wisconsin passed better, Stanford still attacked much more effectively.
In particular, Stanford’s Out-of-System Attacking was incredible in their last two wins. A team that hits over 0.400 Out-of-System in the NCAA is rarely going to lose!
The Outside Hitter Battle
In our analysis of Wisconsin’s win over Baylor in the semifinal, we saw how winning the Outside Hitter Battle was crucial to Wisconsin’s success. In this match, with Final Four MVP Kathryn Plummer carrying the load, Stanford won the outside hitter battle:
Plummer (STA) – 22 Kills, 0.459 Efficiency McClure (STA) – 7 Kills, 0.278 Efficiency Haggerty (WIS) – 10 Kills, 0.308 Efficiency Loberg (WIS) – 5 Kills, 0.000 Efficiency
Winning the Outside Hitter Battle usually means hitting better out-of-system. Stanford did both and it carried them to a championship.
Congrats to the Cardinals! We’ll be studying this NCAA Tournament and providing more analysis in the coming weeks.