Women's Volleyball Opens 2001 Season In Virginia

Aug. 7, 2001

Stanford, Calif. - A new chapter begins for the Stanford women's volleyball program in 2001 as John Dunning takes over as the new head coach after Don Shaw stepped down to take over the Cardinal men's volleyball team.

But don't worry, the story stays the same.

Same winning tradition, same commitment to excellence, same Stanford legacy. Some things never change.

The Cardinal will again rely heavily on two-time All-American and 2000 Olympian Logan Tom during this year's campaign. Tom, who missed the first half of the season last year competing with the U.S. National Team will anchor an improved Stanford team. Tom led the team in kills and digs in 2000 averaging an astounding 5.86 kills per game as well as 3.20 digs.

'She's a very gifted player with an unbelievable amount of experience at such a young age,' said Dunning. 'Our hope is that she can bring her depth of experience to the team as a whole.'

Eleven players from last year's squad return for the Cardinal, who finished 19-12 last season while making their 20th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament. Stanford is one of only four teams to have appeared in all 20 NCAA Championships. Stanford finished 10-8 in the Pac-10 (4th) and ended the season on a five-match home-winning streak. The Cardinal defeated Loyola Marymount 3-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament before losing a heartbreaker to UC Santa Barbara, 3-2.

Stanford will have to replace two key components in 2001 with the graduation of setter Lindsay Kagawa and middle blocker Jennifer Detmer. On the year, Detmer led the squad with 123 total blocks, averaging 1.73 per game. Her 2.75 kills per game average ranked third on the team while her .368 hitting percentage was tops. For her career, she ranks fifth all-time at Stanford with 461 blocks from 1997-2000. She was named a first-team All-Pac-10 selection for the third consecutive season. setter Lindsay Kagawa ended the 2000 season with 1,390 assists - the fourth highest total in school history. Kagawa also surpassed the 3,000 assists mark for her career (just the fourth Cardinal to do it). She finished her four year career in fourth on the Stanford career assists list with 3,407.

The Cardinal return six significant contributors in 2001 with Tom, middle blocker Tara Conrad, outside hitter Michelle Chambers, outside hitter Ashley Ivy, outside hitter Sara Sandrik and middle blocker Sara McGee. Senior defensive specialist Emily Lawrence is also back for her final campaign. Senior setter Robyn Lewis should be back on court this year after redshirting in 2000. Stanford's large freshmen class returns with a year of experience under their belt, led by Pac-10 All-Freshmen selection, Sara McGee. She is joined by outside hitter Sara Dukes, middle blocker Jenn Harvey and setter Anna Robinson.

Stanford's freshmen class features three outstanding athletes, including the number one recruit in the nation - Ogonna Nnamani. The Illinois native was named the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year and competed with the Junior U.S. National Team in 2000. She will challenge for a starting spot as an outside hitter. Nevada Player of the Year Jennifer Hucke along with Maui Interscholastic League Player of the Year Leahi Hall round out the talented trio.

'The expectations for this year are as they are every year,' Dunning said. 'Our goal is to play for the national championship. We have very good players.- players with great experience. The whole college volleyball game is going to change considerably this year by going to rally scoring. The impact of that will be felt this season and throughout the years to come.

'It's hard to predict but the focus this year will be on ball control and playing intelligent volleyball throughout the sport, ' he continued. 'It will certainly be here at Stanford.'

Stanford's goal in 2001 is another trip to the NCAA Volleyball Final Four, which is being held in San Diego, California this year. The Cardinal have amassed four NCCA Championship titles along with seven Pac-10 titles. Stanford has compiled a 636-167-4 record in 25 seasons of play and has never had a losing campaign.

The Cardinal begin the 2001 season with six consecutive road matches, including a grueling stretch that includes Minnesota, Penn State, Texas and Texas A&M.

Stanford opens its 2001 home season with highly anticipated matchup against Pac-10 opponents Arizona and Arizona State on September 14 and 15.

The always strong Pac-10 schedule will dominate most of the Cardinal's fall but non-conference matchups against perennial powers Long Beach State, Pacific and Colorado State give Stanford one of the toughest schedules in the nation.

Following is a position-by-position breakdown of the 2001 Stanford Cardinal women's volleyball team.

Outside Hitter

The Cardinal should have excellent depth at this position highlighted by the return of junior Logan Tom along with the addition of freshman Ogonna Nnamani (Normal, IL/University HS).Tom will anchor the left side for Stanford after a busy 2000 season. The two-time All-American played a pivotal role in the U.S. National Team's surprise fourth place finish at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics then came right back to Stanford and proceeded to lead the team in kills and digs. The 6-1 hitter notched double figures in kills in every match she played in last season and set a career-high with 39 kills against UCSB (12/1). The 39 kills are only two shy of the school record held by Bev Oden.

'A player on the outside like Logan who is used to taking a lot of swings at the ball, who is used to having to deliver under pressure, gives you an ace in the hole,' said Dunning. 'There are moments in the game when ball control goes away and you just have to depend on the abilities of players. Logan may be the best person in the country in that role this season.'

Joining Tom will be senior Sara Sandrik and junior Michelle Chambers who will vie for significant court time.

Sandrik saw a lot of action last season, averaging 2.62 kills per game as well as 1.70 digs. Sandrik set career highs in attempts (47 vs. Utah, 9/5) and digs (15 vs. Fairfield, 9/7) last season while tallying 202 kills on the year.

Chambers, a major contributor in 2000, averaged 1.42 kills and 2.20 digs while serving as a primary passer for the Cardinal. Chambers set a career high with 16 digs versus Arizona State (10/27) last season and will serve as one of Stanford's captains this year.

'The experience that Sara and Michelle bring to the outside hitter position will be very valuable to this year's team,' Dunning said. 'They both saw considerable action last year and will see the same this year because we will need to lean on their experience.'

Freshman outside hitter Ogonna Nnamani joins the Cardinal squad with some impressive credentials. The 2001 graduate of University High School in Normal, Ill., was ranked No. 1 in Volleyball Magazine's Fab 50 which details the nation's top high school players. The first-team All-American led her team to a state title in 1999 and was named the Student Sports National Women's Volleyball Player of the Year in 2000.

'She is a gifted athlete and a very accomplished student,' said Dunning. 'Each year she is here she will continue to improve and we believe will become one of the best players in the country.'Newcomer Hucke brings her own set of credentials to the Farm. A member of the 2000 U.S. Junior National Team, Hucke also led her high school team to a state title in 1999. The 1999 Nevada Player of the Year lettered all four years and captained the team her senior year.

'Jennifer joins our team with a significant amount of experience both in high school, juniors and with the junior national team,' Dunning continued. 'She may be another in a long line of Stanford outside hitters who are skilled in all areas.'

Freshman Leahi Hall could also see some time at outside hitter during her inaugural campaign for the Cardinal.

Two players will challenge for the right side starting job - junior Ashley Ivy and sophomore Sara Dukes.

Ivy had a solid sophomore campaign averaging 2.61 kills while hitting at a .242 clip. Her 2.31 digs was second best on the squad. She set career highs in kills (20), digs (19) and blocks (6) among others.

'Ashley had a very busy spring by practicing and competing with both the volleyball and track teams,' he continued. 'Her experience last fall, along with having a very good spring practice, will have her ready to make significant contributions this season.'

Dukes saw action in roughly half of Stanford's games averaging 1.67 kills and 1.78 digs per game. The 6-1 sophomore improved throughout the year, having one of her best game against Pac-10 foe USC, where she tallied nine kills for the Cardinal.

'Sara is a talented athlete who had to make the adjustments from high school to college volleyball last year as well as making a position change,' said Dunning. 'She made marked improvements over the year which we expect to continue to see this season.'

Middle Blocker

With the loss of All-Pac-10 middle blocker Jennifer Detmer, expect to see some changes in the middle. Senior Tara Conrad will move back to the middle position after spending most of last season as an outside hitter. Sophomore Sara McGee should join Conrad as the other starting middle blocker but expect a challenge from 6-5 sophomore Jenn Harvey for playing time.Conrad, a 1999 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick, ranked second on the team in kills last year averaging 2.67 per game. She notched a career-high 25 kills against UC Santa Barbara in the NCAA tournament and tallied four double-doubles in 2000.

'For several years, Tara has been asked to play different kind of roles on the team,' said Dunning. 'These roles have made her very versatile and we expect her to make significant contributions.'

McGee had a solid freshman campaign for the Cardinal, garnering Pac-10 All-Freshman honors. She worked her way into the starting lineup, getting the nod in 18 of 30 matches. For the year she averaged 1.91 kills, 1/15 digs and 0.88 blocks. Her 75 block assists ranked second behind teammate Jennifer Detmer.

'She had a good freshman season even though her performance was hampered by an injury,' he said. 'She had surgery this spring and we expect her to be ready for this fall.'

Harvey, an imposing 6-5 middle, got her introduction to college volleyball last season and contributed nicely. She averaged 1.68 kills, and 1.10 blocks per game for Stanford. The Colorado native had 11 blocks against Portland State to set a season and career high.

'Jenn is a player on the team who we think will continue to improve throughout her career here at Stanford,' said Dunning.

Setter

This season marks the return of senior setter Robyn Lewis who sat out last year due to a knee injury. If Lewis can remain healthy she should fill the role of starting setter. Also challenging for the setting position will be 6-2 sophomore left-handed setter Anna Robinson.Hampered by injuries most of her career, Lewis, showed what she is capable of her sophomore year when she earned Pac-10 All-Conference honorable mention honors. The 5-10 setter, who was chosen as a co-captain for this season, averaged 12.15 assists that year along with 2.46 digs and 1.00 blocks.

'Robin is a very gifted and experienced athlete who is smart in her position,' Dunning noted. 'Our hope is that she will have a healthy season and our team will benefit from all of her experience.'

Robinson got her feet wet last season, seeing action in 16 games for the Cardinal. She averaged 6.69 assists per game as well as 1.19 blocks and 1.25 digs. She notched a career-high 32 assists against Washington State (10/6).

'Anna was able to get some experience in the fall and played played extremely well at Open Nationals this spring,' he continued. 'She is a blocking-attacking setter which can be a huge advantage in the new rally scoring format.'

Defensive Specialist

A wise volleyball coach one said, 'You have to learn how to pass before you can hit'. Solid passing can set the tone for a match and is the most important fundamental skill to have in the game of volleyball. So the role of the defensive specialist is critical to the success of a program.

Senior DS Emily Lawrence will once again be the top defensive specialist for the Cardinal after notching 174 digs last season. Joining Lawrence is freshman Leahi Hall (Haiku, HI/ King Kaekaulie HS).

Lawrence saw action in 109 of Stanford's 112 games last year while averaging 1.60 digs per game. She tallied career-high 11 digs against Utah (9/5) last season.'One of the keys to this season could be our ability to play defense,' said Dunning. 'Emily will be a very important factor in our improved performance this season and our ability to play defense.'

Newcomer Leahi Hall should give the Cardinal added depth at this position.'Leahi is a very athletic player who we hope will be able to help us immediately both defensively and offensively when needed,' Dunning noted.

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