PALO ALTO, Calif. — No. 5 seed Arizona State (28-7) fell to No. 1 seed Stanford (29-3) Friday in the Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament. The Sun Devil’s season came to a close after winning the first set 25-22, but dropping the final three 25-21, 25-20 and 25-23.
It was a Stanford attack led by fifth-year opposite hitter Kendal Kipp and sophomore outside hitter Elia Rubin. Kipp and Rubin accounted for 42 of Stanford’s 61 total kills, closing the door on the historic and dominant Sun Devil season under first-year coach JJ Van Niel.
The first set included momentum swings for both sides. Both teams traded runs, but Kipp paced the Cardinal offensively for the Cardinal with nine kills in the first set. The Sun Devils held the error advantage as ASU committed six errors to Stanford’s 12. ASU scored five of the last seven points to win to take an early match lead. It was Stanford’s errors that kept the Sun Devils in the lead as the Cardinal doubled the Sun Devil errors in the first set.
The second set began with a 4-0 Stanford run before Arizona State clawed its way back in to take the lead at 7-6 with a back-row kill from junior opposite hitter Geli Cyr. Senior opposite hitter Marta Levinska hit her stride early in the second set with seven kills but ASU couldn’t find her down the stretch as Stanford kept her quiet for the final 12 points of the set. Stanford was the first team to 20 points and continued the momentum to tie up the match.
Like the second set, Stanford began the third set with a service ace in the decisive third set, but again the Sun Devils settled in to take the 5-4 lead. Momentum continued throughout the third set with neither team leading by more than three points until the Cardinal took a 15-11 lead. The second set went the Cardinal way after Rubin had six kills in the set and began to fuel the Cardinal momentum. Stanford dominated offensively with 17 kills and only four errors on 42 total attacks.
With the season on the line in the fourth set, ASU could not keep up with the Cardinal momentum. Although they would make things interesting by climbing back with a 6-0 run to make it 21-23, Stanford managed to score the final two points, ending the Sun Devil’s season. Stanford had only 13 kills in the final set but took advantage of sloppy Sun Devils play. The final Pac-12 meeting between the two schools ended in a Cardinal service ace and advanced Stanford onto regional finals to take on the No. 2 seed and defending national champions, the Texas Longhorns.
Historic season and nothing to hang your head on. The #ASU program is in bright hands with JJ Van Niel.— House of Sparky (@HouseOfSparky) December 8, 2023
In all, Stanford led the match in digs, blocks and kills. Although Stanford had more errors in the match, a major factor in their victory was the sets placed by back-to-back Pac-12 setter of the year junior setter Kami Miner. Miner finished the match with an astonishing 53 assists.
The Sun Devils ended their season in Palo Alto to the perennial powerhouse in Stanford after a year which saw ASU win 28 games, their second most in program history. For first-year head coach JJ Van Niel, the 2023 volleyball season was an important foundation for the growing volleyball scene in Tempe.
Minor had ____ assists and set up Kipp and Rubin.