Semifinals: Stanford defeats Nebraska; Hawaii defeats Florida
CLEVELAND (AP) _ Stanford and Hawaii will meet Saturday to determine the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball champion.
``We’re two very good teams, and when you put them together competing, anything can happen,″ Stanford junior Kristin Folkl said.
Hawaii and Stanford met in the final in 1987, when Hawaii last won the championship. Stanford beat Hawaii in their only meeting this season, Nov. 2 at Hawaii.
Kerri Walsh made 19 kills and 12 digs as Stanford beat Nebraska in four games Thursday night in the first semifinal at Cleveland State University’s Convocation Center.
The Cardinal (30-2) rallied after a slow start to win 9-15, 15-7, 15-9, 15-8. Nebraska, the defending champion, finished the season 30-4.
Lisa Reitsma made five of her 22 kills in the first game for the Cornhuskers. Stanford went ahead 13-0 in the second game and never trailed the rest of the match.
``They came back mentally after game one,″ Reitsma said. ``They just played better.″
The win was the seventh time this season Stanford lost the first game of a match, only to come back to win.
``We were tense, for whatever reason,″ Stanford coach Don Shaw said. ``Once we settled down, we played well.″
Now Stanford will have to deal with Angelica Ljungquist, who produced 15 kills, seven blocks and 15 digs to lead Hawaii over Florida, 15-11, 15-8, 15-9.
Ljungquist, the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I player of the year, was one of two Rainbow Wahine players, along with Therese Crawford, to collect 15 kills.
``It’s just so much fun being here,″ Ljungquist said. ``We wanted it so much. Coach (Dave Shoji) told us to be aggressive.″
Hawaii defeated Florida in the Gators’ first match of the season. Florida then ran off a streak of 37 straight wins before losing again to Hawaii (35-2).
The Gators had 12 kills from Nina Foster and 10 from Aurymar Rodriguez.
``There were two key factors in Hawaii beating us,″ Florida coach Mary Wise said, ``their blocking and the play of their setter, Robyn Ah Mow. We played a good blocking team. They took it to a whole new level.″
Florida led 4-0 in the first game, but Hawaii went ahead for good at 8-7. Hawaii never trailed in the second game. Florida scored the first point in the third game, but that was the Gators’ only lead.