It seemed that Stanford setter Kawika Shoji had the NCAA Championship trophy in his hands even before outside hitter Brad Lawson had the chance to crush it for the final point. Shoji almost didn’t have to watch Lawson take that swing or hear the roar of the 6,535 fans on hand that night to know the match was over.
Lawson had spent the entire three-set match crushing ball after ball with seemingly no effort and only one error for an incredible .821 average. If the blockers gave him line, he hit it. If there was a seam, he found it. If they put three men up, he hit over them or off of them and for that last point, inside them. Opposing coach Mark Pavlik called his 24-kill effort the most dominating performance by an outside hitter he had ever seen.
So once the ball left Kawika’s hands and made it’s way over to Brad on game point, the national MVP setter was already celebrating. In a flash he was running with the trophy hoisted over his head on his way to the huddle of screaming teammates who touched it with one hand and held up a single index finger with the other.
Shoji didn’t care that the trophy had not yet been presented to the team. It was theirs. They earned it. The Stanford Cardinal could now officially call themselves the number one team in the country.
“We got a dig and I went cross-court with it to Brad and I saw him fly up like in slow motion and just crush it cross-court,” said an emotional Shoji after the match. “I just kept going to the well and the well never dried up.”