The battle cry all season for San Diego, the West Coast Conference champion that seemingly was the Rodney Dangerfield of NCAA volleyball, was simply, “Why not us?”
And why not, indeed. Friday night, the Toreros stunned Pac-12 champion Stanford on its home court in the NCAA Tournament regional final to cap a wild day of volleyball. San Diego (31-1) not only rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win its 28th match in a row, the Toreros are in the national semifinals for the first time.
They will play Texas, which beat Ohio State, while ACC co-champions Louisville and Pittsburgh square off for the third time this season. It means there will be a new champion, at the least, for the first time in 10 years. Texas won it all in 2012 and the other three programs have never won the NCAA title.
San Diego, which many argued should have been a top-four seed and would have been playing this match at home if it was, certainly proved its worth with the 19-25, 25-22, 19-25, 25-23, 15-9 victory.
San Diego, which hit .283, got 20 kills from Katie Lukes, who had 11 digs and a block. Grace Frohling had 18 kills, hit .308, and had an assist, an ace, two digs and four blocks. Breana Edwards had 18 kills, a dig and seven blocks. Leyla Blackwell had 14 kills with no errors in 24 attacks to hit .583 and had a dig and seven blocks. Gabby Blossom had 64 assists, seven digs and two blocks, and Annie Benbow had 18 digs and six assists.
Stanford (27-5), which won three titles in four years, the last in 2019, was the No. 4 seed in the tournament and San Diego the No. 5. Stanford hit .253 and got 24 kills from Kendall Kipp, who had five digs and six blocks. Sami Francis had seven kills, hit .385 and had nine blocks. Elia Rubin had 13 kills, two aces, 10 digs and four blocks, and Caitie Baird had 10 kills, an assist, an ace, seven digs and three blocks, one solo. Elena Oglivie had 22 digs, four assists and two aces.
While San Diego had nine kills in the fifth set and hit .294, Stanford hit .000 with three kills, all by Rubin.
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