College volleyball has a grand history. As volleyball fans, we all know just how incredible it is to watch collegiate players’ dreams come true when they reach the pinnacle of a national title. We looked back at every national championship matchup in NCAA DI women’s volleyball history, dating back to 1981. Here are 10 of the greatest, most thrilling, title matches. (All 10 chosen are five-set matches)
Listed in chronological order
USC vs. UCLA | 1981
USC wins: 9-15, 15-7, 10-15, 15-13, 15-7
1981 was the very first NCAA-sponsored volleyball national championship. The final match came down to a huge rivalry between the two LA schools. UCLA hosted the title match on its campus, but the two teams traded sets before USC came out on top of a five-set thriller. Southern California finished the year 28-10.
Hawaii vs. USC | 1982
Hawaii wins: 14-16, 9-15, 15-13, 15-10, 15-12
Next on the list is Hawaii vs. USC the very next year. Hawaii was the No. 1 ranked team in the nation in 1982, but found themselves down 2-0 to USC in the title match. They sparked a huge comeback, led by middle blocker Deitre Collins who posted 25 kills and 7 blocks, and Kori Pulaski who chipped in 23 kills, and the Bows pulled off the reverse sweep of USC. The win was their first NCAA-title under Dave Shoji. They ended up winning a back-to-back title in 1983, too.
UCLA vs. Stanford | 1984
UCLA wins: 15-12, 7-15, 15-10, 9-15, 15-13
In 1984, UCLA took down Stanford with a HUGE comeback in the fifth set. Stanford held an 11-2 lead in that final set, so the comeback was absolutely epic. UCLA claimed the program’s first NCAA national title after two previous runner-up finishes. Liz Masakayan went off in the final set to score 11 points. Not to mention, Kim Oden, a legendary Stanford player, was on the other side of the net.
Stanford vs. Penn State | 1997
Stanford wins: 15-10, 15-6, 2-15, 15-17, 15-9
My next championship matchup was in 1997 — Stanford vs. Penn State. The Cardinal had lost only two matches that season, both at the hands of the Nittany Lions. Stanford took the first two sets before PSU forced a fifth, but the Cardinal pulled through, winning its third title in four…