PALO ALTO, Calif. — No. 22 Michigan is heading to its fourth third round in the past five years after knocking off No. 6 Stanford, 3-1 (20-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-20), in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday night. The Wolverines will now face Florida in the regional semifinal on Friday in Gainesville.
Claire McElheny put down a match-high 18 kills and senior Alex Hunt went for her second consecutive double-double with 17 kills and 13 digs as Michigan hit .291 to Stanford’s .228. Freshman setter Lexi Dannemiller handed out 44 assists and recorded 11 digs and five of Michigan’s 12 service aces. Senior libero Sloane Donhoff had 16 digs to anchor UM’s backline defense.
After going point for point in the first set, the teams were deadlocked at 18-18 when Stanford blocked sophomore Molly Toon on the outside for a 19-18 lead. Michigan scored just two points the rest of the set as the Cardinal took six of the next eight points in a 25-20 win. Michigan hit .158 in the first, as Stanford recorded 4.0 blocks in the frame.
Back-to-back aces from Donhoff put Michigan on top 10-5 in the second, forcing a Stanford timeout. The Wolverines scored five of the next six points to force another Cardinal stoppage at 15-6. Michigan extended its lead to 11 points at 23-12, before Stanford ripped off four consecutive points to climb back within seven at 23-16. The Wolverines regrouped following a timeout, grabbing set point on a Hunt kill off the block and won the set, 25-17, when McElheny found the floor from the middle.
With Michigan and Stanford tied at 11-11 in the third, sophomore Lexi Erwin’s (Spring, Texas/Woodlands College Park) cross-court kill ignited a three-point spurt for Michigan as the Maize and Blue went on top, 14-11, on a service ace from senior Courtney Fletcher (Johns Creek, Ga./Northview). Michigan’s lead swelled to six at 22-16 when Fletcher and McElheny teamed up for the block on the outside. U-M took three of the next five points, ending the set on a slide kill from McElheny in a 25-18 Michigan win.
Dannemiller recorded back-to-back aces, one off the tape and one on the back line, to put Michigan on top, 10-7, and force an early Cardinal timeout in the fourth. Stanford burned its final timeout after Erwin found the floor on a long point as Michigan went up 14-10. The Cardinal got back within a point at 14-13 but not closer the rest of the way as the Wolverines used a kill from Hunt on the outside to seal a 25-20 win.