Jenna Gray, who became an All-American in track and field and was one of the few student-athletes to reach the NCAA championships in two separate sports last year, recorded a career-high eight blocks to help the second-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team record a 25-21, 25-21, 25-7 win over visiting Arizona in a Pac-12 Conference match Friday.
Gray, who also played with Kathryn Plummer on the Cardinal beach volleyball team, has seemingly accelerated her level of play thus far.
Playing with even more confidence this season, Gray attacks the setter position like an outside hitter goes for a kill with court-bending authority. She gets the ball to the right spot and doesn't hesitate to call an audible is she sees an opening.
Of course, it takes more than skill to throw a javelin. It also takes discipline, technique, stamina and strength, all translatable to the volleyball court.
"She's a tremendous athlete," Cardinal first-year coach Kevin Hambly. "She works constantly to improve her game. She's really pushing the tempo this season."
The Pac-12 leader in assists per set at 11.61, Gray recorded 35 more against the Wildcats, an 11.67 per set average. Stanford hit .355, another reflection on the sophomore setter.
Stanford (11-2, 4-0) returns to the road for a match at No. 12 Oregon next Friday. The Ducks gritted out a five-set victory at Oregon State on Friday. The match will air at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.
The Cardinal extended its winning streak to six matches while improving to 11-0 in three-set matches.
Plummer led the team with 12 kills on .423 hitting. Sophomore Audriana Fitzmorris added nine kills on 14 swings with just one error to hit .571, while junior Tami Aladehit .500 with seven kills. Both middle blockers collected six blocks in the match.
Sophomore libero Morgan Hentz recorded a match-best 17 digs, while freshman defensive specialist Kate Formico had six digs.
Leading 17-7 in the third set, Formico served eight straight points to close out the match. The Wildcats' seven points were the lowest set total by a Cardinal opponent this season.
Merete Lutz finished with eight kills on a .538 attack percentage and freshman Meghan McClure had seven kills, three digs and three blocks.
The Cardinal is 67-7 all-time against the Wildcats.
At the 10 minute intermission, Stanford welcomed several alumni. including All-American Cary Wendell and Wendy Hromadka. They presented former Cardinal coach Don Shaw, who was calling the match for Pac-12 Networks, with a commemorative ball.
Shaw coached the women's team at Stanford from 1984-99 and guided the Cardinal to the program's first four national titles in 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1997.