Since that long-ago night in August, when Stanford lost to Brigham Young, the Cardinal has been perfect. Despite a school-record streak of 30 consecutive victories, Stanford coach Kevin Hambly hadn’t forgotten that 3-2 defeat in Provo, Utah.
“We had a tough loss to them,’’ Hambly said Wednesday. “I think we’re looking forward to trying to make that right.’’
The Cardinal did so emphatically, opening the NCAA Final Four with a 25-15, 25-15, 25-18 sweep of the Cougars in Thursday’s semifinal at Target Center.
Top-seeded Stanford, which leads the nation in blocks per set, subdued No. 4 seed BYU with 17 blocks, putting the brakes on the country’s best-hitting offense. BYU entered the match with a .315 hitting percentage, while Stanford averaged an NCAA-best 3.39 blocks per set.
The Cardinal (33-1) held the upper hand throughout, limiting BYU to a hitting percentage of minus-.026 on 29 kills and 32 attack errors. BYU (31-2) hit minus-.132 in the first set and never got on track. Stanford hit .281 for the match, with 34 kills and only seven attack errors.
Stanford’s Tami Alade led the Cardinal with 14 blocks, and Kathryn Plummer contributed 12 kills. The Cardinal advanced to the title match for the 16th time; a victory in Saturday’s title match would give it an eighth national championship, breaking a tie with Penn State for the most ever.
“I’ve been waiting for this game all year,’’ Alade said. “It was a nice redemption tour.’’
BYU struggled with its passing and serving throughout the match, and it recorded its lowest hitting percentage this season.
“There were no surprises tonight,’’ Cougars coach Heather Olmstead said. “We weren’t serving tough enough for us to get any touches, get some blocks.
“As soon as our passing broke down in set one, it was super hard for us to generate any offense.’’