No. 2 Cardinal Prepares For Final Four
Dec. 11, 2006
COMING UP: Stanford (29-3) heads to its 16th NCAA Final Four at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska this weekend after defeating Texas Saturday in the Regional Final. The second-seeded Cardinal will take on familiar conference foe Washington (29-4) on Thursday, December 14 at approximately 8:30 pm (CT) in the second of two semifinal matches. The first semifinal match between top-seeded Nebraska and fourth-seeded UCLA is set for 6:00 pm (CT). The winners of the semifinal matches will advance to the championship match on Saturday, December 16 at 8:00 pm (CT). This is the third time three Pac-10 Conference squads have advanced to the NCAA Final Four, also occuring in 1985 and 2004, when the Cardinal claimed the NCAA title. All three matches will be broadcast nationally. The first semifinal between the Huskers and the Bruins will be carried live on ESPN2 and ESPNU at 6:00 pm (CT), 4:00 pm (PT) on Thursday, December 14. The second semifinal match between the Cardinal and the Huskies will be aired live on ESPNU at approximately 8:30 pm (CT), 6:30 pm (PT) on Thursday and tape-delayed on ESPN2 on Friday at 1:00 pm (CT), 11:00 am (PT). The championship final will be broadcast live on ESPN2 on Saturday at 8:00 pm (CT), 6:00 pm (PT).
Tickets have sold out for the Final Four at the Qwest Center in Omaha. For ticket availability, call the Stanford Ticket Office at 1-800-STANFORD.
CARDINAL TOPS CAL, TEXAS TO ADVANCE TO FINAL FOUR: In its 26th-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, second-seeded Stanford downed California and Texas last weekend in the Austin Regional to advance to the Final Four this weekend in Omaha, Nebraska. Last Friday, the Cardinal swept the Golden Bears, 31-29, 30-25, 31-29, in the regional semifinal in Austin, Texas. Sophomore outside hitter Cynthia Barboza led the Cardinal with 12 kills, followed by senior outside hitter Kristin Richards with 11 kills and sophomore middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo with 10 kills. Junior setter Bryn Kehoe tallied 39 assists, as well as three blocks, while Akinradewo paced the squad with four blocks. On Saturday, Stanford battled to take down host Texas, 30-28, 34-32, 31-33, 30-24, in front of an energetic crowd. Barboza led the Cardinal with 18 kills, seven blocks and a season-high four aces, while Richards followed with 17 kills and a team-high 23 digs. Akinradewo also tallied 16 kills and three blocks, and Kehoe neared her season-high with 63 assists, four blocks and 21 digs. Akinradewo and Richards were named to the All-Region Tournament Team, while Barboza was honored as the Most Outstanding Player.
ABOUT THE HUSKIES: Stanford will face Washington (29-4) for the third time this season in the national semifinal on Thursday, December 14, in the Cardinal's second postseason match against a conference opponent. The Cardinal first squared off against the Huskies on September 22 in the opening weekend of Pac-10 Conference action. Stanford fell, 31-21, 30-28, 30-25, despite a career-high 25 kills from sophomore outside hitter Cynthia Barboza. Stanford also met Washington on November 24 in a match to determine the 2006 Pac-10 champion. The Cardinal rallied to upset the Huskies in three games, 30-27, 30-15, 31-29. Senior outside hitter Kristin Richards led Stanford with 13 kills, followed by sophomore middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo with 11 kills. Junior setter Bryn Kehoe recorded 38 assists and a career-high eight blocks as the Cardinal held the Huskies to a .093 team hitting percentage. Washington opened the postseason with victories over Colorado State and Colorado in the NCAA First and Second Rounds in Boulder, CO. The next weekend, the Huskies easily defeated Ohio State, 30-16, 30-18, 30-18, in the regional semifinal before taking down third-seeded Penn State, 30-27, 30-24, 28-30, 30-26, to advance to the Final Four. Junior Christal Morrison currently leads the Huskies with 523 kills and 4.63 kills per game, followed by junior Stevie Mussie with 428 kills and 3.89 kills per game. Sophomore Jessica Swarbrick paces the squad with 121 total blocks (1.49 bpg), while senior setter Courtney Thompson has tallied 1,690 assists this season. Stanford leads the all-time series against Washington, 40-8.
ABOUT THE HUSKERS: Top-seeded Nebraska (31-1) advances to the Final Four after defeating San Diego and Minnesota last weekend in the Gainesville Regional. The Huskers defeated American and Northern Iowa in the NCAA First and Second Rounds. In the regional semifinal on Friday, the Huskers easily took down the San Diego Toreros, 30-21, 30-20, 30-15, with 15 kills by junior Sarah Pavan. Nebraska faced ninth-seeded Minnesota in the regional final. Down by two games to the Gophers, the Huskers rallied back to claim the Final Four berth, 25-30, 22-30, 30-20, 30-25, 15-9. Pavan and sophomore Jordan Larson combined for 41 kills against Minnesota, while Larson also added 17 digs to become the Most Outstanding Player of the Gainesville Regional. Pavan currently leads the Huskers with 5.07 kills per game and 542 total kills, while Larson follows 450 kills and averages 4.21 kills per game. Junior Tracy Stalls leads the squad with 151 blocks to average 1.41 blocks per game, while Pavan trails with 112 blocks and 1.05 blocks per game. Setter Rachel Holloway is also averaging 13.39 assists per game with 1,393 total assists. Stanford last met the Huskers in 2005, falling in three games at the AVCA/NACWAA Showcase in Omaha. The Cardinal leads the all-time series against Nebraska, 7-4.
ABOUT THE BRUINS: Pac-10 competitor UCLA (33-3) defeated Alabama-Birmingham and Utah to advance to the Honolulu, Hawai`i Regional last weekend. The Bruins defeated Oklahoma in the regional semifinal, 30-22, 30-16, 30-26, thanks to 17 kills and eight blocks from senior Nana Meriwether. On Saturday, UCLA downed host Hawai`i, 30-16, 30-23, 30-23, with the help of 13 kills each by Meriwether and Kaitlin Sather. Meriwether also contributed five blocks as the Bruins held Hawai`i to a .087 hitting percentage, earning All-Regional Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Meriwether currently leads the team with 4.12 kills per game and 495 total kills, while Katie Carter follows with 396 kills and 3.36 kills per game. Meriwether also paces the Bruins with 236 blocks to average 1.97 blocks per game, while Rachel Johnson is averaging 1.13 blocks per game with 128 total blocks. Setter Nellie Spicer is also averaging 13.66 assists per game with 1,666 total assists. The Cardinal met UCLA twice in conference action, claiming a five-game win over the Bruins on October 13 and beating UCLA in four games at home on November 11. Stanford now narrowly leads the all-time series against the Bruins, 35-34.
RECORD WATCH: Senior Kristin Richards has already moved from ninth to fifth this season for career kills with 1,796, and now ranks first at Stanford in digs with 1,572 ... Richards is also sixth all-time at Stanford with 125 career aces ... In just her junior year, setter Bryn Kehoe improves to fourth on the all-time career assists list with 4,109 assists, ranking first all-time at Stanford with 12.88 assists per game ... Kehoe is also second on the single season assists per game list with 13.28 assists per game this season ... Sophomore Cynthia Barboza's 45 service aces so far this season place her in eighth on Stanford's single season list ... Barboza is currently fifth all-time with 0.44 aces per game this season ... Sophomore libero Jessica Fishburn also sits in second for single season digs per game with 3.87 digs per game this season.
PAC-10 CHAMPIONS!: No. 2 Stanford closed out the regular season on November 24 and 25 with two three-game sweeps of Washington and Washington State at home in Maples Pavilion. On Friday, Stanford faced off against then No. 2 Washington to determine the 2006 Pac-10 champion. The Cardinal delivered, taking down the Huskies, 30-27, 30-15, 31-29. Senior outside hitter Kristin Richards led the Cardinal with 13 kills, while junior setter Bryn Kehoe recorded 38 assists and a career-high eight blocks. On Senior Night Saturday, Stanford downed Washington State to take sole possession of the conference title. The Cardinal swept the Cougars, 30-27, 30-23, 30-18, thanks in part to a season-high 21 kills from Richards. Sophomore Cynthia Barboza and junior Franci Girard also tallied six kills apiece. Closing out conference play with a 16-2 record, Stanford's title is the first outright Pac-10 championship for the Cardinal since 2001 and the program's 10th Pac-10 title overall.
FIVE PLAYERS NAMED TO ALL-PAC-10 TEAM: Five Cardinal players were named to the All-Pac-10 Team after claiming the 2006 conference title, including sophomore Foluke Akinradewo, sophomore Cynthia Barboza, junior Franci Girard, junior Bryn Kehoe and senior Kristin Richards. Akinradewo, Barboza, Kehoe and Richards were among 14 conference players named to the All-Pac-10 team, while Girard was an Honorable Mention selection. Washington junior Christal Morrison was tabbed the Pac-10 Player of the Year, while USC newcomer Taylor Carico was honored as the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Second-year Oregon head coach Jim Moore was also named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year. Stanford Women's Volleyball now boasts 79 All-Conference awards all-time.
KEHOE NAMED PAC-10, NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior setter Bryn Kehoe earned conference and national honors after logging an outstanding weekend to lead the Cardinal to the 2006 Pac-10 title. On November 27, Kehoe was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week and the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week for her performances against Washington and Washington State. Against the Huskies last Friday, Kehoe had 38 assists, four kills, 12 digs, one solo block and a season-high eight total blocks in the Cardinal's upset victory. The next night, Kehoe added 40 assists, as well as three kills, 12 digs and one block in the win. For the weekend, Kehoe averaged 13 assists per game, 4 digs per game and recorded a .545 hitting percentage. Kehoe marked Stanford's third Pac-10 Player of the Week this season and the Cardinal's 58th Player of the Week all-time. She is the first Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week this season and the Cardinal's tenth honoree all-time.
CARDINAL LANDS NINE ON PAC-10 ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM: Nine Cardinal players were named to the 2006 Pac-10 All-Academic Women's Volleyball Team. Senior Lizzie Suiter was named to the First Team, her third Pac-10 All-Academic honor during her time on The Farm. Sophomore Jessica Fishburn was also named to the Second Team. Sophomore Foluke Akinradewo, sophomore Cynthia Barboza, junior Franci Girard, junior Bryn Kehoe, senior Michelle Mellard, senior Nji Nnamani and sophomore Erin Waller were named Honorable Mention All-Academic. Stanford has now tallied 52 Academic All-Conference awards in the history of the program.
SENIOR SALUTE: Seniors Michelle Mellard, Nji Nnamani, Kristin Richards and Lizzie Suiter enter their final postseason for Stanford Women's Volleyball. The foursome has displayed excellent leadership both on and off the court, helping maintain Stanford Volleyball as one of the elite collegiate powers in the country. This senior class has helped lead the Cardinal to 106 victories and NCAA Tournament appearances in each of their four years on The Farm. They also powered the Cardinal squad to an NCAA title in 2004, Stanford's sixth national title in program history.
DUNNING REACHES 600 WINS: Head Coach John Dunning earned his 600th win against Oregon on October 20 in Maples Pavilion and was honored for his achievement on November 10 versus USC. Dunning is in his sixth season as head coach of the Cardinal and 21st year of coaching volleyball. During his tenure at Stanford, the Cardinal has captured two NCAA championships (2001, 2004), as well as a runner-up finish in 2002. Dunning has amassed a 175-29 record on The Farm and a 612-131 record in his 21 years of coaching at Stanford and Pacific, ranking him among the top five winningest active coaches in NCAA history (Division I). In 2005, Dunning was the recipient of the USA Volleyball All-Time Great Coach Award.
BARBOZA, RICHARDS NAMED PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Sophomore outside hitter Cynthia Barboza and senior outside hitter Kristin Richards both earned Player of the Week honors earlier this season from the Pac-10. Barboza was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for Sept. 4-10, the Cardinal's first weekly honor of the year. Barboza led a three-match sweep at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Challenge. She hit .471 for the tournament with 46 kills, 33 digs and seven blocks, including a .532 hitting percentage against Fairfield without tallying a single attack error and collecting a career-high four service aces against No. 9 Hawai`i. Richards was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for Oct. 2-8. She led the Cardinal to a three-game sweep over No. 7 California, recording 13 kills without a single error. Richards hit .565 against the Bears, contributing six digs, an ace and three blocks.
STANFORD TALLIES $4,753 FOR BREAST CANCER: On November 11, Stanford hosted UCLA in the Dig for the Cure match. In conjunction with the California Women's Volleyball Team, Stanford aimed to raise money for the San Francisco Chapter of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation by taking flat donations and pledges per digs earned during the UCLA match. With the majority of pledges turned in, Stanford has raised $4,753 to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Originally started in 2003 by Charlotte head coach Lisa Marston, the Dig for the Cure campaign has raised over $36,000 dollars.