PALO ALTO, Calif. - No. 5 Stanford is quickly making a strong case for another national volleyball title.
Led by Kristin Richards' 22 kills, the Cardinal advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament by knocking off Nevada, 30-25, 30-20 and 30-21, before 1,501 fans at Maples Pavilion.
"I thought we had the opportunity to really compete with Stanford," Nevada coach Devin Scruggs said. "We didn't have the same emotion we had last week with the phenomenal match with Hawai'i."
Nevada ends its season at 18-13 while Stanford (26-5) plays Santa Clara, a 3-1 winner over Sacramento State, tonight at 7 p.m. in the second round. The winner advances to next weekend's Sweet 16 which will also beheld at the Maples Center.
"One of our goals is to keep getting better every match, every day," said Stanford coach John Dunning, whose team has recently been plagued by injuries. "We kind of put it together. It's a matter of people stepping up."
Along with Richards' performance, Erin Waller posted 11 kills and an attack percentage of .562. Katie Goldhahn dished out 40 assists and Jessica Fishburn led Stanford in digs with eight.
Seniors Salaia Salave'a, Christine Harms and Lindsay Holda played their final match of their Wolf Pack careers.
"This is one of the most unique senior classes probably in the entire country," Scruggs said of her seniors, who each missed only one match during their four-year career. "They have set a fantastic standard for our team and built the groundwork for the continued success with this program."
Salave'a led the Pack with a 12-kill performance, .391 attack percentage, and Harms tallied nine digs. Holda finished with only one dig.
"I really wasn't planning on losing my last match," said Salave'a, who holds all-time records in four categories for the Pack.
Erika Ryan and Carly Sorensen each recorded eight kills, and Tristin Johnson struggled with 26 assists.
"My ball control wasn't the best it's been," Johnson said.
Nevada, which has never advanced past the first round, earned its second bid in a row after losing to Hawai'i in last week's Western Athletic Conference tournament.
Scruggs said Nevada needs to do better in the preseason and that could give it a better seeding and the possibility of winning in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Pack dropped potential wins to ranked BYU, UCLA and San Diego.
"I'd rather be in Hawai'i's situation playing Texas State than No. 5 Stanford," Scruggs said.
WAC champ Hawai'i easily defeated Texas State in three games while runner-up Utah State lost in straight sets against Arizona.
Scruggs reunited with Dunning, her former coach when both were at the University of Pacifiic.
"I've done it a while now," Scruggs said of competing against Dunning. "I have the upmost respect for John. He's a mentor, he's a friend. I've learned a lot from him as a player and now a colleague."
Dunning, whose team defeated Nevada last year in five games at a Reno tournament, commended Scruggs on her accomplishments with the Pack's program.
"It just brings a smile to my face because I like her," Dunning said. "She's a good coach. I'm really proud of her." Nevada had trouble from the start of the match against the Cardinal front line, especially Richards and Waller.
"Kristin's a phenomenal player," Scruggs said.
Stanford also troubled the Pack with its serving and didn't allow the Pack to find a rhythm with their offense.
"I thought we served great tonight," Dunning said. "We have some people that can put the ball where they want it a lot."
As a team, the Cardinal racked up six aces and out-hit Nevada in kills by 12 and attack percentage by .127. The Pack suffered from the service line with eight errors, but it did have three aces.