No. 2 Cardinal Clashes with No. 11 Cal in Pac-10 Opener
Sept. 18, 2007
Stanford, Calif. -
THIS WEEK: After concluding a perfect 11-0 preseason last week, the Cardinal is ready to start Pac-10 play and begin its defense of the conference title. Stanford begins its conference season across the Bay, taking on the No. 11 California Golden Bears at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley Friday night at 7 p.m.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Stanford will be playing its first of six regular-season TV games this week. The match will be broadcast locally on Comcast Sportsnet West. Fans can also catch the match live on KZSU radio (90.1 FM) or online at kzsulive.stanford.edu.
LAST TIME OUT: Stanford won its third tournament of the year at the Courtyard by Marriott Yale Classic last weekend, topping Delaware State, Yale and No. 3 Penn State to improve to 11-0 on the year. Junior outside hitter Cynthia Barboza led the Cardinal with 31 kills on the weekend, 21 of which came in the tournament championship match against Penn State. Senior setter Bryn Kehoe also had an outstanding weekend and matched season highs with 61 assists and 12 digs against Penn State. Barboza was named the weekend's MVP, while Kehoe and Foluke Akinradewo also earned spots on the All-Tournament Team.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Cardinal returns to Maples Pavilion Sept. 27-28 to take on USC and UCLA. Thursday night is IVL night, with 2-for-1 general admission for all IVL members and free pom poms for the first 1,000 fans. Friday marks the annual Dig for the Cure night, during which the team will be raising money to support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
SHOTGUN START: With an 11-0 opening record, Stanford has posted its best start in more than a decade. The Cardinal wrapped up the preseason undefeated on Saturday, a feat the program hasn't accomplished since 1994. That 1994 squad eventually went 32-1 and captured Stanford's second NCAA title.
DOING THE BEST AGAINST THE BEST: Stanford is one of seven top-25 teams that remain undefeated, and accomplished that while playing one of the toughest preseason schedules in the country. Six of Stanford's wins are over current top-25 teams, which is tied with Nebraska for the most in the country. Three of the other undefeated squads - Washington, Florida and Dayton - have yet to play a ranked opponent, while Michigan has played just one. USC, the other undefeated top-25 team, has played three ranked opponents. Eleven teams on Stanford's schedule appeared in the preseason top-25, and 13 participated in the NCAA Championship last season.
COMING THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH: Stanford's three All-Americans led the charge in Stanford's biggest win of the year on Saturday. Outside hitter Cynthia Barboza led the team with 21 kills and her sixth double-double of the year. Setter Bryn Kehoe matched season highs with 61 assists and a team-leading 12 digs, put up three key blocks and served the only three Cardinal aces. Middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo recorded 15 kills, including one to win a clutch game four. The All-Americans weren't the only players to contribute important plays when it counted, however. Janet Okogbaa teamed up with Erin Waller for a key block in game three to swing the momentum towards Stanford, and Waller put up back-to-back points to give the Cardinal a commanding lead in game five. Alex Fisher stepped up with a kill to pull the Cardinal into a tie in game four, and Franci Girard provided consistent offense with nine kills in the match.
SETTING THE RECORD, LITERALLY: Senior setter Bryn Kehoe continues to inch closer and closer to the program's career assist record. The North Bend, Ohio native started the season fourth on the list, passed Lisa Sharpley (1994-97) for third place on Aug. 31 and Carrie Feldman (1989-92) for second on Sept. 7. The two-time All-American began her final collegiate season with 4,214 to her name. So far she has 473 in 2007, and stands just 316 shy of becoming the all-time record-holder. Wendy Rush, who collected 5,003 assists between 1984 and 1987, holds the record Kehoe is chasing.
SOPHOMORES STEP UP: Stanford's three sophomores all recorded the biggest weeks of their careers at Cincinnati and Yale last week. Against Cincinnati, sophomore middle blocker Janet Okogbaa stole the show with career highs in kills (8), blocks (6) and hitting percentage (.500). Okogbaa also stepped in and provided two crucial blocks against Penn State on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore Alex Fisher also set some new career marks last week, recording career-highs with seven kills and a .467 hitting percentage against Delaware State and putting up a career-high four blocks against Cincinnati. Sophomore setter Joanna Evans posted a number of career bests against Delaware State on Friday, notching 33 assists, two kills and four blocks.
HARD TO HANDLE: Foluke Akinradewo is the hardest hitter in the nation for opponents to handle, as the junior middle blocker records a kill more than half of the times she touches the ball and leads the NCAA with a .509 hitting percentage. She has hit above .400 in eight of the Cardinal's 11 matches, with her season low (.323) being an 15-kill, four block performance in the win over Penn State. Her season-high (.706) was 13 kills on 17 attempts with just one error on Sept. 2 against Ohio. Akinradewo set a school record last year, with a .431 season. She is currently hitting at a .424 clip for her career, a mark 60 points higher than Sara McGee and Jennifer Detmer, who hold the Stanford career hitting percentage record (.364). Akinradewo is currently third on the team with 3.97 kills per game and leads the team with 42 total blocks.
SUDDEN IMPACT: Stanford's freshmen won't make their first appearances in a Stanford classroom until this week, but a few of them have already made a huge impact on the Stanford volleyball court. Not only have two freshmen earned places in the starting lineup, but both have emerged as the team's leader in their respective specialties. Alix Klineman has posted double-figure kills in eight matches, has been named the Pac-10 Player of the Week and, along with teammate Cynthia Barboza, leads the team with 4.12 kpg. Gabi Ailes, Stanford's libero, has recorded double-digit digs in the last 10 matches, set a career high against Cincinnati last Wednesday with 21 digs and currently leads the team with 4.14 dpg.
HOW SHE COMPARES: Stanford freshman Alix Klineman has been compared to some of Stanford's greatest newcomers in program history. After her first 10 collegiate matches, Klineman is averaging a team-leading 4.12 kills per game, a mark right in the mix of Stanford's National Freshman of the Year winners. Cary Wendell averaged 3.15 kpg as a freshman in 1992, while Kerri Walsh averaged 4.78 kpg as a freshman in 1996. Logan Tom averaged 4.63 in 1999, Ogonna Nnamani averaged 3.89 in 2001 and Kristin Richards averaged 3.38 in 2003. All five won the National Freshman of the Year award following those seasons.
FIGHTING BACK: Stanford has won 33 of its 37 games, topped seven ranked teams, swept eight opponents and remains undefeated after the non-conference season for the first time in over a decade. Yet, despite all that, the Cardinal has not gone untested. Stanford dropped opening games to Minnesota and BYU, but wasn't fazed and stormed back to beat both clubs, 3-1. Against Penn State on Saturday, Stanford found itself at a 1-2 disadvantage after game three, but once again wasn't fazed and rallied back in games four and five to come out on top.
CONFERENCE CHATTER: After a successful preseason, Stanford is set to begin one of the most challenging conference schedules in the nation. Why? The Pac-10 has won five of the last six NCAA titles and has sent six or more teams to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last seven years. The NCAA Final Four has included three Pac-10 teams two of the last three years and all 10 teams enter the conference season this year with winning records. Six Pac-10 teams are currently ranked in the top-25, and three are in the top-five. Seven teams have two losses or less, and three remain undefeated. Overall, Pac-10 teams were 96-20 (.828) in the preseason, and 17-3 (.850) against ranked opponents. Of the 96 non-conference wins, Pac-10 teams swept 72 of them.
NATIONAL NUMBERS: Not surprisingly, Stanford's bests are some of the nation's bests. Foluke Akinradewo's hitting percentage (.509) leads the NCAA, and Bryn Kehoe's assists per game figure (13.91) stands second nationally. As a team, Stanford's 17.32 kills per game are second only to Nebraska. The team is also among the top-five squads in hitting percentage (.323) and assists per game (15.97).
LEADERS OF THE PAC: Foluke Akinradewo's .509 hitting percentage is the best in the Pac-10, and Bryn Kehoe's 13.91 assists per game also lead the league. Three Stanford players - Alix Klineman, Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo - all make the top-10 in both kills and points. Klineman and Barboza are tied for sixth with 4.12 kpg, and are ninth and tenth in points per game, respectively. Akinradewo is seventh and ninth in points per game and kills per game, respectively, while freshman libero Gabi Ailes is fifth in the league with 4.14 dpg. As a team, Stanford leads the league in kills with 17.32 per game and assists with 15.97 per game.
SCOUTING CAL: Cal comes into the week with a 10-1 record and a No. 11 national ranking. The Bears were swept by unranked Colorado on Sept. 2, but have a pristine record otherwise. The team has swept two ranked opponents in its last three matches- No. 12 Minnesota and No. 22 Santa Clara - and has only lost five of its 35 games. The Bears finished fifth in the Pac-10 last year, and advanced to the Austin Regional where they were eliminated by none other than Stanford. Ten letterwinners and four starters return, including 2006 All-American outside hitter Angie Pressey, who currently leads the team with 3.36 kpg. Sophomore middle blocker Kat Reilly leads the Pac-10 with 2.04 bpg and freshman libero Caitlyn Murphy leads the conference with 0.58 aces per game. The Bears have a freshman setter, Carli Lloyd, who averages 11.27 apg.
THE SERIES WITH CAL: Stanford has dominated the series with Cal, winning 57 of the 62 matches between the two teams. The Cardinal has come out on top in the last five, with Cal getting its last win in a five-game match in Berkeley in 2004. Last season, Stanford swept the Bears at home on Oct. 6, won 3-1 in Berkeley on Nov. 3 and swept them again in the Sweet Sixteen in Austin, Texas on Dec. 8. Cynthia Barboza led the Cardinal in all three matches against Cal last year, with a combined 42 kills.
WHAT THEY'VE BEEN UP TO: During the off-season, a number of Cardinal players 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.
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. Still ahead, the Cardinal hosts nine conference matches at Maples Pavilion. 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 are available at the door, at www.GoStanford.com 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.
NATIONAL POLL: Stanford came in at No. 2 for the fifth straight week in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll and was the only school besides Nebraska to receive first place votes. Nebraska held onto the top spot for the fifth straight week, while Penn State, USC and UCLA remained the rest of the top-five. With the addition of Oregon this week, six Pac-10 squads - Stanford, UCLA, USC, Cal, Washington and Oregon - are currently in 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: In seventh season at the helm of the Cardinal, Head Coach John Dunning is one of the most accomplished coaches in collegiate volleyball. Dunning has four National Championships under his belt, has taken his teams to eight 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 his first 22 years as a head coach, Dunning was 613-132 (.823), giving him a winning percentage that ranks among the top-five active Division I coaches. Dunning accumulated a 176-30 in his first six seasons on The Farm.