Back in Action: No. 2 Cardinal Opens 2007 Season at Long Beach State

Aug. 23, 2007

Stanford, Calif. -

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UP NEXT: The Cardinal women's volleyball team opens the 2007 season on Saturday, taking on the No. 19 Long Beach State 49ers on the road. Coming off its 16th Final Four appearance and 12th National Championship match, the No. 2 Cardinal squad will look to pick up where it left off last December. First serve is set for 7 p.m. Saturday night at The Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.

LOOKING AHEAD: Stanford remains on the road for its second week of action, heading to the Diet Coke Classic hosted by the University of Minnesota, Aug. 31-Sept. 2. The entire tournament field is ranked and, in addition to Stanford, includes No. 9 Minnesota, No. 15 San Diego and No. 25 Ohio.

LONG BEACH HOMECOMING: Junior Cynthia Barboza will be making a return to her roots, as the former Long Beach Wilson High School standout will be playing in her hometown on Saturday. Barboza was volleyball's first two-time Gatorade National Player of the Year in her prep days, and has since gone on to be a First Team All-American and one of the most prominent collegiate players. Two other team members, junior Jessica Fishburn (Los Angeles) and freshman Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach) are also natives of the Los Angeles area.

FRESH FACES: The Cardinal's four-player recruiting class, headlined by outside hitter Alix Klineman, was deemed the best in the nation by Klineman, the 2007 Gatorade National Player of the Year, has been touted by prep volleyball experts as one of the most talented young players to enter the collegiate volleyball world. In addition, Stanford has added Gabi Ailes, the 2007 Nebraska State Player of the Year, Cassidy Lichtman, a two-time MVP of the California Division IV State Championships and Stephanie Browne, a 6-5 middle blocker who was listed among the nation's top-20 recruits.

WHAT THEY'VE BEEN UP TO: Even though the collegiate season has been done since December, Cardinal players have remained in the competitive spotlight. In April, Cynthia Barboza and Bryn Kehoe took to the beach, and took second in CSTV's Powerade Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship in San Diego. In June, Barboza competed with the US National Team at the Pan Am Cup in Colima, Mexico and helped the team to a fourth place finish. In July, Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo started for the US National Team that won a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in Brazil. Just entering their junior seasons, the Stanford players were the two youngest on the roster, and two of only three current collegiate players. Cardinal newcomers Alix Klineman and Cassidy Lichtman were also active in the off-season, as both were members of the US Junior National Team that finished fourth at the FIVB U-20 Junior World Championships in Thailand.

TAKING AIM AT THE RECORD: Senior setter Bryn Kehoe will resume her climb up the Stanford career charts this week. The two-time All-American begins her final collegiate season fourth on the Stanford career assists chart, with 4,214 to her name. Kehoe needs just 74 assists to catch Lisa Sharpley (1994-97) and 247 assists to catch Carrie Feldman (1989-92). The all-time Cardinal assist leader is Wendy Rush, who collected 5,003 assists between 1984 and 1987.

BRING IT HOME: Much of the collegiate volleyball excitement will be local this year, as the Cardinal will stick close to home for preseason, conference and postseason action. The Cardinal opens the home season with the Stanford Invitational, Sept. 6-8, and hosts nine conference matches during the fall. The Cardinal's own Maples Pavilion floor will also be one of four 2007 NCAA Regional sites, while the 2007 Final Four will be just up the road at ARCO Arena in Sacramento. Tickets for Stanford's 12 regular-season home matches are now on sale at or by calling 1-800-STANFORD.

2006 IN REVIEW: Stanford finished 2006 with a 30-4 record, won an unprecedented 10th Pac-10 title and made a postseason run to its 12th NCAA title match, before falling to Nebraska in the national final. Stanford earned 25 of its 30 wins by 3-0 margins, went 16-2 in the conference and played 22 matches against eventual NCAA Tournament participants. Four Stanford players earned All-America honors, and three of those players - Bryn Kehoe, Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo - are back for 2007.

SCOUTING LONG BEACH STATE: The No. 19 49ers are coming off of a 26-6 2006 season, during which the team finished second in the Big West and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The squad opened up the postseason with a win over Pepperdine, but fell to Hawaii in the Second Round at home. Six starters and 10 letterwinners return for 2007, including 2006 Big West Player of the Year Alexis Crimes, who was last year's team kill leader (3.77 kpg). The team also returns Nicole Vargas, its All-Conference senior setter (12.47 apg) and Michaela Hasalikova, another All-Conference selection who was second on the squad last year in both kills (2.92 kpg) and blocks (1.19 bpg).

HISTORY WITH LONG BEACH: Stanford and Long Beach State have previously met 15 times, and Stanford owns the series 13-2. The last time the two teams met, however, was under the most exciting of circumstances - the 2001 National Championship match. After falling to the 49ers early that season, the Cardinal bounced back and swept them when it counted, winning a 31-29, 30-28, 30-25 match in San Diego. Notably, the Cardinal's most recent NCAA Championship win also has Long Beach ties. The last time Stanford played a game in Long Beach was Dec. 18, 2004, when the Cardinal defeated Minnesota at Long Beach Arena for the 2004 NCAA title.

TAKING ON THE BEST: Once again, Head Coach John Dunning has lined up one of the most challenging schedules in the nation for the Cardinal. Eleven opponents appeared in the preseason top-25, and 13 participated in the NCAA Championship last season.

NATIONAL POLL: Stanford came in at No. 2 when the American Volleyball Coaches Association released its annual preseason poll. The Cardinal began last season at No. 4 in the AVCA poll, and finished the year at No. 2. Stanford has started the season in the top-five five of the last six years. Defending National Champion Nebraska took the top spot in the poll, while Penn State, Texas and UCLA rounded out the top-five. Five Pac-10 squads made the top-25.

PICKED TO REPEAT: For the second straight season, the Stanford women's volleyball team was predicted to win the Pac-10 title by the league's coaches. Stanford, the defending Pac-10 Champion, claimed 89 points, 12 more than second-place USC, including eight of the ten first-place votes. Last season, the Pac-10 sent three teams to the Final Four and, over the last six seasons, the conference has sent 12 teams to the Final Four and captured five national titles. During those six seasons, the league has posted an impressive 568-171 (.769) record against non- conference opponents. The coaches have correctly picked the Pac-10 champion in 11 of the previous 18 polls.

HEAD COACH John Dunning: Beginning his seventh season at the helm of the Cardinal, Head Coach John Dunning is one of the most accomplished coaches in the collegiate volleyball world. Dunning has four National Championships under his belt, has taken his teams to seven Final Fours and owns a 58-18 record in the NCAA Tournament. During the 2006 season, he earned his 600th career win and will be looking for his 200th win with the Stanford program this season. In 22 years as a head coach, Dunning is 613-132 (.823), giving him a winning percentage that ranks among the top-five active Division I coaches. Dunning is 176-30 in his six seasons on The Farm.

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