Penn State started the match with a service error, and with Stanford bringing the pain in the form of Evan Romero, Brad Lawson and Kawika Shoji, things didn’t improve for the Nittany Lions. Lawson finished with an unheard-of .821 hitting percentage, notching 24 kills in 28 swings.
Romero added 11 kills, and Kawika Shoji was setting on a dime. His brother Erik, after getting uncharacteristically aced on an early serve, was a digging machine.
Penn State made a valiant effort, taking the first game all the way to 30-25, but after that it was all downhill for the Cardinal. In front of a packed home stadium Stanford could do no wrong, and the final two games ended with scores of 30-20 and 30-18.
This marks the first time in 10 years that a team has managed to win both the extremely competitive Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship and sweep the NCAA title in the same year; BYU managed to earn the triple crown of MPSF championship, MPSF tournament and NCAA win in 2004, but even then they didn’t sweep the NCAA tournament as Stanford did.
Stanford, a team that hadn’t won a postseason match in 13 years, completed this postseason run by winning 14 consecutive sets – its final four matches in sweeps – and outscoring its five playoff opponents (counting the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament) by a combined 15-1.
It’s been a long time coming, but Stanford more than earned this year’s title. Congrats guys!