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Stanford wins NCAA women’s volleyball title

Stanford middle blocker Merete Lutz (17) rises for a block with teammate middle blocker Inky Ajanaku (12) on a shot from Texas outside hitter Paulina Prieto-Cerame (19) during the women's NCAA volleyball title game Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (Joshua A. Bickel / Columbus Dispatch via AP)
Stanford middle blocker Merete Lutz (17) rises for a block with teammate middle blocker Inky Ajanaku (12) on a shot from Texas outside hitter Paulina Prieto-Cerame (19) during the women's NCAA volleyball title game Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (Joshua A. Bickel / Columbus Dispatch via AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Inky Ajanaku had 18 kills, Kathryn Plummer added 16 and Stanford beat Texas 25-21, 25-19, 18-25, 25-21 on Saturday night in the NCAA women’s volleyball final.

The Cardinal (27-7) won 16 of their last 17 matches to complete an unlikely championship run with four freshman starters.

After losing the third set, Stanford jumped out to a 6-0 lead and continued to dominate the net. Plummer received a bump set from Kelsey Humphries and registered the winning kill off of the Texas block to secure the program’s seventh national title and first since 2004.

The loss marks Texas’ second consecutive NCAA runner-up finish, after losing in three sets to Nebraska last year. Micaya White had 17 kills, and Ebony Nwanebu 16.

After trailing 18-16 in the second set, Stanford turned the table with a 7-0 run led by freshman Audriana Fitzmorris and Plummer, who combined for six points during the stretch. The Cardinal won two of the next three points to close the set.

Jenna Gray had 51 assists and Morgan Hentz had 27 digs in the winning effort.

Stanford had a .277 hitting percentage to Texas’ .217.

Texas finished 27-5.

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