Stanford Concludes Regular-Season with Big Spike
Nov. 20, 2007
Stanford, Calif. - THIS WEEK: Stanford wraps up the regular-season this week, taking on Bay Area rival Cal in the Big Spike Friday night. The fourth-ranked Cardinal will be looking to clinch the Pac-10 Championship outright, while the seventh-ranked Golden Bears will be looking to avenge a 3-1 loss in Berkeley two months ago. The match is set for 7 p.m. in Maples Pavilion.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Friday's match will be televised by Fox Sports Net on tape delay and aired in the Bay Area on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 4 p.m. The match will not be webcast due to TV restrictions, but fans can catch the match live on KZSU radio (90.1 FM) or online at kzsulive.stanford.edu.
SENIOR FAREWELL: Cardinal seniors Franci Girard and Bryn Kehoe will be honored prior to their last regular-season match at Maples Pavilion on Friday. Girard and Kehoe, the team's co-captains, were both starters on the 2004 NCAA Championship team, and have led the program to 112 wins and two Pac-10 Championships since stepping onto the Farm four years ago. Girard has been a consistent force at the net for the Cardinal, and owns one of the best hitting percentages in the Pac-10 this season. Kehoe, a two-time All-American, finishes her career as the most accomplished setter in program history, after shattering Stanford's career assist record on Oct. 12.
COME ON OUT: Friday night is Fan Appreciation Night at Maples Pavilion! The first 500 Cardinal fans will receive free Nike backpacks at the match in appreciation of your support.
LAST TIME OUT: Stanford clinched no less than a share of its 11th Pac-10 Championship last week with a sweep of the Arizona schools. On Friday night, Stanford cruised past Arizona State, completing a season sweep of the Sun Devils, 30-27, 30-24, 30-14. On Saturday, the Cardinal won a four-game match over the Arizona Wildcats to wrap-up a share of the league title, 30-23, 28-30, 30-20, 30-28.
TOURNEY TIME: Friday's match wraps up the regular-season for the Cardinal, but the real fun is just beginning. Stanford has secured the Pac-10's automatic postseason bid, and will be appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the 27th consecutive time. The NCAA Selection Show airs at 5 p.m. (PT) Sunday on ESPNU, and Stanford hopes to receive a bid to host the first two rounds of action, Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Stanford is one of four predetermined sites for NCAA Regionals this year, as four teams will battle in Maples, Dec. 7-8, for a trip to the Final Four. The 2007 Final Four will happen just up the road this year at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Dec. 13-15.
PAC-10 RUNDOWN: With one weekend left to play, Stanford (15-2 Pac-10) is in sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 and can do no worse than tie for the title. Washington (13-3) is the only other squad still in contention for a share of first place, but Stanford is in the driver's seat. A Cardinal win over Cal on Friday will seal the title outright, but, regardless of the outcome, Stanford has picked up an unprecedented 11th conference championship and posted its first repeat title since the program won six straight in the late 1990s. USC (12-4) and Cal (12-5) both still have a shot at a runner-up finish, and Oregon and UCLA are dueling for fifth place. Arizona State also has a pivotal weekend ahead, needing an upset of No. 5 USC or No. 10 UCLA to remain eligible for the NCAA Tournament.
AKINRADEWO, AGAIN: Once again junior middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo made the difference for the Cardinal last week. The Plantation, Fla. was simply unstoppable, hitting .721 for the weekend with 34 kills. On Friday, she hit .647 with 13 kills in the sweep of Arizona State, and came back the following night with an even better showing. Akinradewo peppered the Wildcats with 21 kills in the four-game match, and hit a season-high .721 with just one error in 26 attempts. Akinradewo also had six blocks in Saturday's pivotal win, and averaged a team-leading 4.86 kpg for the weekend.
OPPONENT WOES: Opponents have had a difficult time getting much going offensively against Stanford, a fact shown not only by the Cardinal's 26-2 record, but by the list of opponents' hitting percentages. Of Stanford's 28 opponents, 22 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 16 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. Stanford is the only team in the Pac-10 hitting over .300, and the Cardinal's season hitting percentage (.312) currently ranks fifth nationally.
DIGS GALORE: Two records down and counting. Freshman Gabi Ailes has already rewritten the Cardinal dig records this season, and is in search of more records yet. Ailes shattered a single-match dig record with 31 on Oct. 27, and bested a record set by Kristin Klein in 1988 for the most digs recorded by a freshman on Nov. 8. Ailes now has 427 digs for the season, fourth on the program's single-season dig chart and just 75 short of the all-time record set by Kristin Richards in 2004 (502). 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. Against Washington two weeks ago, Ailes 29 digs also made the top-10 single-match performances (4th).
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 62. 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. In the team's second meeting with Washington on Nov. 8, Kehoe matched a career-high with 70 assists. Going into the week, she leads the conference and is third in the nation with 14.18 apg and has 5,533 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. Her career assist mark is currently fourth in Pac-10 history.
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 (.497). She has hit above .400 in 20 of the Cardinal's 28 matches, with her season-high (.769) being 21 kills on 26 attempts with just one error last week against Arizona. 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 .436 clip for her career, a mark more than 70 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.
STEPPING UP IN THE SECOND HALF: Junior opposite hitter Erin Waller joined in on the double-figure kill action again last week, recording another pair of back-to-back double figure kill performances for her most prolific weekend of the season. The Ballwin, Mo. native tallied 11 and 12 kills, respectively, and hit above .400 in both matches. Five of her six double-figure performances this season have come in the second round of Pac-10 play.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE DUTY: Junior outside hitter Cynthia Barboza recorded another double-double against Arizona State last week, her career-best 16th 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 4.01 kpg and 3.40 dpg, and leads the team with 30 service aces. Freshman Alix Klineman also is getting her share of double-doubles (7) and senior Bryn Kehoe now has 14 double-doubles this year, with the most recent coming against Arizona on Saturday.
FRESHMAN PHENOM: Stanford freshman Alix Klineman has been compared to some of Stanford's greatest newcomers in program history. After her first 27 collegiate matches, Klineman is averaging 4.17 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.
SENIOR CONSISTENCY: Senior Franci Girard has been chipping in steady stream of kills since the conference season began, and the middle blocker added nine in each of the team's matches against the Arizona schools last week. Girard is fourth in the Pac-10 with a .333 hitting percentage since Pac-10 play began, and sixth with a .335 clip overall.
MILESTONE FOR DUNNING: Cardinal Head Coach John Dunning earned his 200th win with the Stanford program with the team's sweep at Washington State on Nov. 9. Dunning is now 202-32 (.863) so far at Stanford and, in his seventh season at the helm of the Cardinal, 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.
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 tied for seventh on the Stanford career service ace chart (120) and eighth on the career digs chart (1,161). Foluke Akinradewo is tenth with 376 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.
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.
DUNNING NABS ANOTHER ONE: The Stanford coaching staff has nabbed another one of the nation's top recruits for the 2008-09 season. Middle blocker Jessica Walker of Houston, Texas signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Cardinal next season. Walker was listed among the top-10 recruits in her class by PrepVolleyball.com and competed on the Junior National A2 team in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. last summer. Noted for her power, quickness, mental aptitude and desire to quickly learn the nuances of the game, Walker will play for the Texas Tornados this club season, before coming to the Farm in the fall.
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 1,182 career kills and 1,117 career kills, respectively.
THE TOUGH ROAD: At 26-2, 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 the toughest in the nation, as the squad has met 13 members of the current top-25, and is the only school other than Nebraska to have beaten 11 of them. Stanford and Nebraska lead the nation in wins over ranked opponents (11). No. 5 USC has eight wins over currently ranked opponents and No. 10 UCLA has seven. Top-ranked Penn State and No. 6 Washington have beaten six, while No. 3 Texas has taken down five. No. 7 Cal has beaten four, but Florida and Wisconsin, who round out the top-10, have yet to beat anyone in the current top-25.
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 30 double-doubles this season, 25 of which have come against ranked opponents. Akinradewo is leading the team with a .497 hitting percentage, and has hit above .400 in 20 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, Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo are all averaging more than 4.00 kpg, and Stanford is the only top-10 team with three or more 4.00 kpg hitters. Texas and Penn State are the only other members of the top-10 with more than one 4.00 kpg weapon (two apiece).
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 23 matches, has been named the Pac-10 Player of the Week and leads the team with 4.17 kpg. Ailes, Stanford's libero, has recorded double-digit digs in 26 of the last 27 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 26 wins this season, 18 have been sweeps. The Cardinal has won 81 of its 97 games, and allowed just three 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.
SUPERSTAR ON AND OFF THE COURT: Stanford's Cynthia Barboza was named to the 2007 ESPN Academic All-District First Team for her accomplishments in the classroom and on the court. A Science, Technology and Society major, Barboza was one of four Pac-10 players to earn a spot on this year's University Division District 8 First Team and Stanford's first first-team selection since 2004, when Ogonna Nnamani earned a spot on the squad and went on to earn her third consecutive Academic All-America honor. As a member of the First Team, Barboza will appear on the ballot for 2007 Academic All-America honors.
NATIONAL POLL: Stanford remains No. 4 this week in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. The Cardinal held the No. 2 spot for the first eight weeks of the season, dropped to No. 5 after losses to Washington and USC, but climbed back to No. 4 last week. Nebraska, which held onto the top spot for first ten weeks, is No. 2 for the fourth consecutive week, after being overtaken by Penn State for the No. 1 spot. Texas and USC are No. 3 and No. 5, 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 CALIFORNIA: With one match remaining, Cal is in fourth place in the Pac-10, but has a chance to finish as high as second. The Bears lost their first three conference matches, but have won 12 of their last 14. On Oct. 11, they stunned then-No. 8 Washington in Berkeley, before taking down then-No. 7 UCLA in Los Angeles on Oct. 27. Cal is now ranked seventh in the nation, and led by Angie Pressey's 4.06 kpg and Hana Cutura's 3.90 kpg. Setter Carli Lloyd is averaging 12.60 apg, and middle blocker Ellen Orchard is the conference's best blocker with 1.65 bpg. Cal is the best blocking team in the conference with 3.76 team blocks per game, which contributes to the fact that they also boast the lowest opponent hitting percentage in the conference (.136). Cal also leads the conference with 1.81 aces per game this season.
THE SERIES WITH THE BEARS: Stanford has dominated the series with Cal, going 58-5 (.921) all-time against the rival Golden Bears. The Cardinal has come out on top in each of the last six meetings, 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 NCAA Regional Semifinal in Austin, Texas on Dec. 8. Earlier this year across the Bay, Stanford dropped the first game, but rallied back to win 27-30, 30-26, 32-30, 30-25. Last time the teams met, freshman Alix Klineman tallied a career-high 22 kills to lead the Cardinal.
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.
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.