Top-ranked Stanford clinches Pac-12 title with 3-1 win against No. 5 UCLA
LOS ANGELES -- Top-ranked Stanford clinched the Pac-12 title with a 25-22, 25-18, 15-25, 27-25 win against No. 5 UCLA Friday at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. The Cardinal improves to 25-3 overall and 17-1 in the Pac-12, while the Bruins drop to 21-6 overall and 13-5 in the conference.
The win gives Stanford its 18th conference title in school history, and the 15th in the Pac-12. The Cardinal has now won the conference six of the last seven years.
Junior outside hitter Rachel Williams led the team with 16 kills, three blocks and three digs, while freshman Jordan Burgess added 15 kills and 11 digs for her 10th double-double of the year. Junior middle blocker Carly Wopat finished with 11 kills and three blocks, while freshman Inky Ajanaku recorded 10 kills and six blocks. Freshman Brittany Howard chipped in with nine kills and 10 digs.
Freshman setter Madi Bugg controlled the offense with 51 assists and 13 digs for her 10th double-double of the season. Sophomore libero Kyle Gilbert racked up 29 digs and a career-high eight assists. Stanford hit .285 while holding UCLA to a .224 attack percentage, and is now 22-0 when outhitting its opponents.
Stanford came out fired up and won the first set 25-22. The Cardinal scored five consecutive points to open the match and never surrendered the lead. Stanford hit .357 in the first while holding UCLA to a .154 hitting percentage. Burgess paced the team with six kills and two digs, while Howard chipped in with four kills. Gilbert anchored the defense with 11 digs. Senior Rachael Kidder led UCLA with seven kills on a .545 attack percentage.
The second set mirrored the first as the Cardinal jumped out to a quick lead and maintained it on the way to a 25-18 victory. Stanford put down 20 kills in the set, hitting .400, while UCLA managed just 10 kills on a .182 hitting percentage. Burgess picked up four kills early in the set. Williams and Wopat registered six kills each, while each picked up a block. UCLA hit .182 in the second as three different players recorded two kills.
UCLA responded in the third, capturing the set 25-15. The Bruins took the early lead and capitalized on a 5-1 run late to put the set out of reach. Stanford was held to a .139 hitting percentage, while UCLA hit .394. Ajanaku and Burgess each tallied three kills to lead Stanford. Kidder led the Bruins with six kills, while Karsta Lowe added four kills.
Stanford outlasted UCLA 27-25 in the fourth to seal the victory. The Cardinal outhit the Bruins .244 to .213 in the set, which had 13 tie scores and five lead changes. It was tight late in the set, but a block by Ajanaku and Burgess gave the Cardinal the lead 25-24. The Bruins came back to tie the set at 25-25, but kills by Williams and Bugg propelled the Cardinal to the win. Kidder finished with a match-high 21 kills for the Bruins.