after back-to-back losses to Washington and California dropped Stanford to 15--6 in October, 2004 suddenly had the look of a down year for the perennial title contender. But the Cardinal came back strong, reeling off 15 consecutive wins, capped by a victory over Minnesota in the NCAA final last Saturday at Long Beach Arena. Led by senior outside hitter Ogonna Nnamani's 29 kills (she had a record 145 for the tournament), 11th-seeded Stanford swept past the fourth-seeded Gophers 30--23, 30--27, 30--21. Befitting the Cardinal's season, two of those three games were comeback wins. "Once in a while you get rewarded by being the last team standing," said Stanford coach John Dunning afterward. "We're lucky that it's us." The school's sixth championship capped a stellar career for Nnamani. The 2004 Olympian finished as a four-time All- Pac-10 selection, the conference's player of the year this season and the Pac-10's alltime kills leader (2,450). On the eve of the championship match, she and Ohio State's Stacey Gordon were named co--national players of the year.