No. 5 Stanford Seeks Revenge in Washington
Nov. 6, 2007
Stanford, Calif. - THIS WEEK: It's time for the showdown! The Cardinal women's volleyball team heads to Washington for a week highlighted by a battle of the Pac-10's top two teams - No. 4 Washington and No. 5 Stanford. The Cardinal will be looking to avenge an Oct. 12 loss to the Huskies and keep its Pac-10 fate in its own hands. First serve in the critical match is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday in Seattle. On Friday, Stanford travels across the state to Pullman to take on the Washington State Cougars in an 8:30 p.m. match at Bohler Gym.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Stanford's clash with Washington will be televised by Fox Sports Net and aired on tape delay in the Bay Area at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Fans can catch both matches live on KZSU radio (90.1 FM) or online at kzsulive.stanford.edu.
LAST TIME OUT: Stanford completed a season sweep of the Oregon schools last week, downing both the No. 19 Ducks and the Beavers in Maples Pavilion. After splitting the first two games with Oregon on Thursday, Stanford lashed out with decisive wins in games three and four, finishing with a 30-24, 27-30, 30-19, 30-17 win. Freshman Alix Klineman and senior Franci Girard helped the Cardinal continue to roll against Oregon State on Friday, blasting the Beavers 30-18, 30-19, 30-20 for the program's 46th straight win over OSU. Klineman's combined 31 kills led the team for the week.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stanford returns to Maples Pavilion on Nov. 16 to begin a potential seven-match home stretch leading up to the Final Four in Sacramento. The Cardinal begins by hosting Arizona State (Nov. 16), Arizona (Nov. 17) and Cal (Nov. 23) in its final three Pac-10 matches, then hopes to receive a bid to host the NCAA First and Second Rounds for the third straight year. Stanford has been selected as one of four predetermined sites for NCAA Regionals, Dec. 7-8.
NO. 200 ON THE HORIZON: Head Coach John Dunning will be looking for his 200th win with the Stanford program this week. Dunning is 198-32 (.861) so far at Stanford, and could earn No. 200 at Washington State on Friday. In his seventh season at the helm of the Cardinal, 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. 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.
FRANCI ON FIRE: Senior middle blocker Franci Girard has posted two of the most prolific weeks of her career back-to-back, peaking at the right time for the Cardinal. The senior captain has recorded double-figure kills in three of the last four matches, marking the best stretch of her career. Over the past two weeks, Girard has tallied 41 kills, hit .347 and chalked up 11 blocks. Girard is fifth in the Pac-10 with a .308 hitting percentage since Pac-10 play began, and ninth with a .321 clip overall.
KLINEMAN DOMINATES OREGONS: Freshman outside hitter Alix Klineman carried Stanford to another pair of wins this week, as the Cardinal cruised past No. 19 Oregon and Oregon State. Against the Ducks, Klineman led the team with 16 kills, hit .324 and recorded a career-high six blocks. On Friday against OSU, she slammed 15 kills to lead the team again, tacked on three more blocks, hit at one of her best clips of the season (.458) and nabbed her fifth career double-double (15 kills, 10 digs). For the weekend, Klineman led the team with 31 kills in seven games and averaged 5.43 points per game.
RECORDS FLYING IN THE BACK ROW: Freshman Gabi Ailes, who shattered a single-match dig record with 31 on Oct. 27, will likely climb onto the program's single-season dig chart this week. The Bellevue, Neb. native needs just 23 digs to earn a place in the all-time top-10, and with 24, she will best the record set by Kristin Klein in 1988 for the most digs recorded by a freshman (384). Should Ailes keep her current pace (4.40 dpg), she will land second on the program's single-season digs per game chart. Her 31 digs against USC was just the third 30+ dig performance in Stanford history, and bested the previous record (30) set by Kerri Walsh and Lisa Sharpley in 1997.
THE VIEW FROM THE TOP: Senior Bryn Kehoe is the most accomplished setter in Stanford history, after shattering the program's all-time assist record on Oct. 12. Needing 43 assists in the match against Washington to top the previous record (5,003) set by Wendy Rush in 1987, Kehoe out-did herself with a season-high 62 assists. The record-breaker was a ball lofted to teammate Cynthia Barboza to give Stanford a 28-23 lead in game three. A two-time All-American, Kehoe became the first freshman in a single-setter offense to win a National Championship in 2004, and now is looking to bookend her career with another title. Going into the week, Kehoe leads the conference and is second in the nation with 14.10 apg and has 5,314 for her career. Should she finish the season at her current pace, she will also shatter both the Stanford single-season and career assists per game marks.
HARD TO HANDLE: Foluke Akinradewo is the hardest hitter in the nation for opponents to handle, as the junior middle blocker leads the NCAA in hitting percentage and records a kill nearly half of the times she touches the ball (.483). She has hit above .400 in 17 of the Cardinal's 24 matches, with her season-high (.706) being 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 hitting percentage and is in position to best that record this season. She is currently hitting at a .430 clip for her career, a mark more than 60 points higher than Sara McGee and Jennifer Detmer, who hold the Stanford career hitting percentage record (.364). Should she continue at her current pace, Akinradewo will best both the Pac-10 career and single-season hitting percentage records as well.
DOING HER PART: Junior opposite hitter Erin Waller joined in on the double-figure kill action again on Thursday, posting double-figures in back-to-back matches for just the second time of her career. The Ballwin, Mo. native hit .450 in the match against Oregon with 10 kills on 20 attempts and just one error.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE DUTY: Junior outside hitter Cynthia Barboza recorded another double-double against Oregon last week, her career-best 14th of year. Barboza recorded six double-doubles before suffering an ACL injury as a freshman in 2005, and posted 13 double-doubles as a sophomore last season. Barboza is second on the team with 4.10 kpg and 3.32 dpg, and leads the team with 30 service aces.
FRESHMAN PHENOM: Stanford freshman Alix Klineman has been compared to some of Stanford's greatest newcomers in program history. After her first 23 collegiate matches, Klineman is averaging 4.19 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.
MINGLING AMONG THE CAREER TOP-10: Bryn Kehoe, who broke the program's career assist record earlier this year, is not the only current Cardinal player with her name etched in the Stanford career record books, nor is the assist ladder the only one that the senior has climbed this year. In addition to being Stanford's career assist leader, Kehoe is currently eighth on the Stanford career service ace chart (118) and eighth on the career digs chart (1,121). Foluke Akinradewo is tenth with 364 career blocks, and teammates Kehoe and Franci Girard are knocking on the door to make the list. Akinradewo and Cynthia Barboza are also already among the program's all-time top-10 in total attacks.
ONE OF THE BEST SHOWINGS IN THE NATION: The Cardinal attracts some of the best crowds in the nation, and currently ranks among the nation's top-10 programs in home attendance. So far, Stanford has averaged more than 2,100 fans per match, best in the Pac-10. Hawaii currently tops the national list with an average attendance of more than 6,000.
A START TO BE PROUD OF: Stanford's season-opening win streak ended on Oct. 12, but not before the team reached a number of notable milestones. The team's 11-0 non-conference record and 17-0 start were the program's best in more than a decade, when the 1994 squad won 20 straight and also went undefeated in non-conference play. The loss of just five games in 17 matches was also the best since 1994, no easy feat considering Stanford has won five NCAA titles and been to the Final Four nine times since that historic 1994 run. The 17-match win streak was the longest since the 2001 season, when Stanford rattled off 19 wins on its way to the NCAA title.
THE CONFERENCE RACE: With an 11-2 Pac-10 record, Stanford is a half game behind Washington in the conference standings, but has a chance to pull back into sole possession of the lead this week. Stanford boasts the best hitting percentage in the Pac-10, both overall (.312) and in conference play (.303), while also leading the conference on both charts in kills and assists. The Cardinal is second in the conference in digs, with 17.41 per game overall and 18.11 per game in conference.
1,000 TIMES OVER: Foluke Akinradewo became the first current Cardinal player to join Stanford's 1,000-kill club on Oct. 4 against Oregon State, and teammate Cynthia Barboza joined her on Oct. 12 against Washington. Just juniors, Akinradewo and Barboza are already among the program's most accomplished hitters, with 1,119 career kills and 1,080 career kills, respectively.
THE TOUGH ROAD: At 22-2, Stanford boasts one of the best records in the nation, but the feat is even more impressive when the challenging road the squad took to get there is taken into consideration. The Cardinal's schedule has been one of the toughest in the nation so far, as the squad has met 12 members of the current top-25, and is the only school other than Nebraska to have beaten 10 of them. No. 5 Stanford and No. 2 Nebraska lead the nation in wins over currently ranked teams (10) and No. 9 UCLA and No. 6 USC are second with seven. Top-ranked Penn State and No. 4 Texas havs beaten just five ranked teams, and No. 4 Washington has beaten just four.
THE BIG THREE: Stanford has three returning All-Americans this season, and so far, they have been the foundation of Stanford's success. Outside hitter Cynthia Barboza, setter Bryn Kehoe and middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo have stepped up with their best performaces in some of Stanford's biggest matches. Barboza and Kehoe have combined for 26 double-doubles this season, 23 of which have come against ranked opponents. Akinradewo is leading the team with a .483 hitting percentage, and has hit above .400 in 17 matches. Eleven of those matches were against ranked foes.
PERFECT BALANCE: With three of the Pac-10's top-10 offensive players on its side, Stanford has one of the most balanced offenses in the country. Alix Klineman and Cynthia Barboza are both averaging more than 4.00 kpg, while Foluke Akinradewo is chipping in 3.92 kpg. Stanford is the only squad in the Pac-10 with three players among the conference's top-10 hitters. It's no surprise then, that, as a team, Stanford leads the conference in kills per game (17.33), assists (15.98) and hitting percentage (.312). The squad is also fifth in the nation in kills per game, sixth in assists and fourth in hitting percentage.
BLOCK PARTY: After putting up fewer than ten blocks in nine of its first ten matches, the Cardinal has been big on the block since Pac-10 play began, turning in impressive performances against the best teams in the nation. As a team, Stanford has 141 blocks in conference play, has been in double-digits eight times and matched a season-high last Thursday against Oregon with 15 blocks. Foluke Akinradewo is the team's leader with 101 total blocks (1.33 bpg), but reserve Janet Okogbaa has stepped in and delivered some key blocks when it counted. The sophomore middle blocker is averaging 1.14 bpg, second only to Akinradewo.
OPPONENT WOES: Opponents have had a difficult time getting much going offensively against Stanford, a fact shown not only by the Cardinal's 22-2 record, but by the list of opponents' hitting percentages. Eighteen of Stanford's 24 opponents have hit below .200, with four not even able to hit .100. Penn State (.268), Long Beach State (.256) and USC (.284) are the only clubs to hit more than .250 against the Cardinal this year, and no one has been able to reach .300. By contrast, Stanford has hit above .300 14 times, above .400 five times and only four clubs have held the squad below .250 (Minnesota, Washington State, Washington and Arizona). Stanford recorded its best clip of the season on Oct. 19 at Arizona State, posting a .491 mark with all five hitters coming in above .400. The Cardinal's season hitting percentage (.312) currently ranks fourth nationally.
SUDDEN IMPACT: Two Stanford freshmen, Alix Klineman and Gabi Ailes, have wasted no time making an impact at the collegiate level. Not only has the pair moved into the starting lineup, but both players have emerged the team's best in their respective specialties. Klineman has posted double-figure kills in 19 matches, has been named the Pac-10 Player of the Week and leads the team with 4.19 kpg. Ailes, Stanford's libero, has recorded double-digit digs in 22 of the last 23 matches, broke a Stanford single-match dig record and currently leads the team with 4.40 dpg. Ailes and Klineman were named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in their respective home states (Nebraska and California) last year, and Klineman was honored as the Gatorade National Player of the Year.
SWEEPING `EM CLEAN: Of Stanford's 22 wins this season, 16 have been sweeps. The Cardinal has won 69 of its 82 games, and allowed just two matches to go beyond four games. Stanford has swept seven ranked opponents, including then-No. 4 USC and then-No. 5 UCLA in late September.
NATIONAL POLL: Stanford remained at No. 5 this week in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. The Cardinal held the No. 2 spot for the first eight weeks of the season, but dropped after losses to Washington and USC. Nebraska, which held onto the top spot for first ten weeks, is No. 2 for the second consecutive week, after being overtaken by Penn State for the No. 1 spot. Texas and Washington are No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Six Pac-10 squads - Stanford, UCLA, USC, Cal, Washington and Oregon - are currently in the top-25, and, of the six, all but Oregon are in the top-10.
CONFERENCE CHATTER: Stanford is amidst 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 entered the conference season this year with winning records. Six Pac-10 teams are currently ranked in the top-25, and five are in the top-10. 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.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON: Washington (22-1, 13-1 Pac-10) enters this week's matches ranked No. 4 in the nation, and is coming off of a sweep of the Arizona schools last week. The Huskies started the season with 16 consecutive wins, but lost to Cal on Oct. 11. Since then, however, they have won six straight, and have yet to give up a game on their home court. Senior Stevie Mussie leads Washington with 4.42 kpg, and teammate Christal Morrison owns a 4.03 kpg average. Freshman setter Jenna Hagglund is the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week and is second in the conference with 13.69 apg. Libero Tamari Miyashiro is second in the conference with 5.49 dpg, while middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick's hitting percentage (.392) is also second in the Pac-10.
THE SERIES WITH THE HUSKIES: Stanford is 40-9 (.816) all-time against the Huskies, but six of those Cardinal losses have come since 2003. Last season, the teams traded regular-season sweeps, with Washington winning in Seattle and Stanford winning at Maples, and met again at the Final Four in Omaha, where Stanford pounded the Huskies 30-12, 30-25, 30-15. In the teams' first meeting of 2007, Washington upended Stanford on its home court in a five-game thriller, 30-24, 21-30, 24-30, 30-27, 15-10. Washington has not lost at Bank of America Arena since Nov. 26, 2004 and Stanford has not won at Bank of America Arena since Nov. 15, 2002.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE: Washington State (9-17, 0-12 Pac-10) started the year strong with nine wins in its first 11 matches, but the Cougars have struggled recently. WSU is winless in Pac-10 play and has lost 15 straight. Senior outside hitter Adetokunbo Faleti leads the team with 3.33 kpg, and sophomore outside hitter Jackie Albright is close behind with 3.14 kpg. Senior middle blocker Tara West continues to be one of the league's top blockers, with 1.22 bpg.
THE SERIES WITH THE COUGARS: Stanford is 41-3 (.932) all-time against Washington State and has won 12 of the 13 meetings in the John Dunning era. The 2002 Cardinal was the last to fall to WSU, dropping a match in Pullman. Stanford won the first meeting between the two teams this year. On Oct. 11, the Cardinal blasted the Cougars, 30-23, 30-19, 30-22 at Maples Pavilion, using 16 kills by Alix Klineman to win its 17th-straight.
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 sticks close to home for preseason, conference and postseason action. Still ahead, the Cardinal hosts three 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 to Stanford's home matches 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.
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.