Stanford won the 2016 NCAA championship as the Cardinal caught fire at midseason and got better and better, especially as it won all six matches in the NCAA Tournament, knocking off, in order, No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 2 Minnesota and No. 4 Texas in the title match.
There was no doubt entering the season that Stanford could be pretty good, but it was still an unlikely choice to win it all.
Last May, we sat down with coach John Dunning in his Stanford office and did a three-part video interview. It came right in the middle of the Cardinal’s spring practice.
The first segment was a look back at 2015, a season that ended with Stanford being upset by Loyola Marymount in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal had a lot of promise for 2015, but senior All-American middle blocker Inky Ajanaku was lost for the season when she blew out her knee the previous summer while playing internationally for the USA.
The second segment was all about Ajanaku, who was returning after recovering from ACL surgery. Her story, of course is well-documented and last week she was named the VolleyballMag.com national player of the year.
And the third was about what 2016 might hold. Now that Stanford has won it all, it’s really interesting to listen to what Dunning had to say three months before the season began.
This is the segment that looks ahead to the 2016 season:
This is the segment of Dunning talking about 2015:
And this is the segment of Dunning on Inky: