Top-Seeded Stanford Begins Road to Sacramento at Maples

Nov. 28, 2007

Stanford, Calif. - THIS WEEK: The road to Sacramento begins! Stanford, the NCAA Tournament's overall No. 1 seed, will host the First and Second Rounds this week, welcoming Santa Clara, Minnesota and Sacramento State to the Farm. Minnesota and Sacramento State will begin the action at 5 p.m. (PT) on Friday, and Stanford will battle Santa Clara in the second Friday match at 7:30 pm (PT). The winners will battle for an NCAA Regional spot on Saturday at 8 p.m. (PT).

CATCH THE CARDINAL: All three First and Second Round matches hosted by Stanford can be seen FREE via live webcast at www.GoStanford.com or on www.NCAASports.com. Fans can catch all action involving the Cardinal live on KZSU radio (90.1 FM) or online at kzsulive.stanford.edu. Tickets are available at the door, online at www.GoStanford.com, or by calling 1-800-STANFORD. General admission tickets are $8 for a single session and $14 for an all-session pass, with discounted tickets available for youth, seniors and students.

TOP OF THE HEAP: Stanford earned the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1998. The Cardinal posted a 27-2 record this season while playing the toughest schedule in the country to earn the No. 1 nod. Four other Pac-10 teams - USC, Washington, Cal and UCLA - also nabbed one of the top 16 seeds in the tournament.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Stanford will be making its 27th-straight NCAA appearance this season, and is one of only two schools to have appeared in every NCAA Tournament since the NCAA Championships began in 1981. Stanford and Penn State are the only two schools to appear in all 27 of those tournaments. Stanford has won more NCAA Championships (6), made more Final Four appearances (16) and won more NCAA Tournament matches (82) than any program in the nation.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Cardinal will not stray far from home anymore this year, as Stanford's 2007 postseason run is guaranteed start and end in California. Stanford will host the first two rounds of action this weekend, and is one of four predetermined sites for NCAA Regionals, Dec. 7-8. The 2007 Final Four will happen just up the road this year at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Dec. 13-15.

PAC-10 CHAMPS!: Stanford claimed the Pac-10 Championship outright last Friday night with a thrilling five-game victory over No. 7 California. The title was the Cardinal's 14th all-time conference championship and unprecedented 11th since the Pac-10 was organized in 1986. Stanford successfully defended its 2006 championship, posting the program's first repeat title since Stanford won six straight in the late 1990s.

CLEANING UP THE CONFERENCE AWARDS: The Cardinal was well-recognized when the 2007 Pac-10 awards were announced earlier this week. Stanford swept the yearly awards for the first time since 2001, as John Dunning was named Coach of the Year, Foluke Akinradewo was named Player of the Year and Alix Klineman was named Freshman of the Year. Klineman, Akinradewo, Bryn Kehoe and Cynthia Barboza all earned spots on the All-Pac-10 Team, with Klineman being the only freshman to make the team. The Manhattan Beach, Calif. native also earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team, and Gabi Ailes nabbed All-Freshman Honorable Mention. In 2001, Dunning won Coach of the Year in his first year at the helm of the Cardinal, Logan Tom won Player of the Year, Ogonna Nnamani won Freshman of the Year and Stanford won the NCAA title.

AKINRADEWO, AGAIN: Last week, junior middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo once again made the difference for the Cardinal in a 30-32, 30-19, 23-30, 30-22, 16-14 win over Cal. The middle blocker led the team with 20 kills while hitting .436 against the best blocking team in the conference. After the team dropped game one, Akinradewo delivered six kills in game two to get Stanford back in sync. She recorded four kills and two of her three service aces in the final points of game four to fuel the Stanford comeback and, in the deciding game five, she notched four late kills to carry the Cardinal to its 27th victory of the season.

OPPONENT WOES: Opponents have had a difficult time getting much going offensively against Stanford, a fact shown not only by the Cardinal's 27-2 record, but by the list of opponents' hitting percentages. Of Stanford's 29 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 (.311) currently ranks fourth nationally.

DIGS GALORE: 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 443 digs for the season, third on the program's single-season dig chart and just 59 short of the all-time record set by Kristin Richards in 2004 (502). Should Ailes keep her current pace (4.34 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 fourth in the nation with 14.14 apg and has 5,600 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 (.493). She has hit above .400 in 21 of the Cardinal's 29 matches, with her season-high (.769) being 21 kills on 26 attempts with just one error against Arizona on Nov. 17. 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: Opposite hitter Erin Waller joined in on the double-figure kill action again last week, recording 12 kills in the win over Cal while hitting a team-high .455. Six of Waller's seven double-figure performances this season came in the final eight matches of the regular-season. The junior hit .319 in Pac-10 matches this year to rank seventh in hitting percentage in conference play.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE DUTY: Junior outside hitter Cynthia Barboza recorded another double-double against Cal last week, her career-best 17th 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 3.34 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.

FRESHMAN PHENOM: Alix Klineman, the Cardinal's tenth all-time Pac-10 Freshman of the Year winner, 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 eight in the match against Cal last week. Girard is fifth in the Pac-10 with a .326 hitting percentage since Pac-10 play began, and sixth with a .330 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 203-32 (.864) 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. Dunning was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2007 for the second time in his career, after winning Big West Coach of the Year honors four times while at University of the Pacific.

FOUR HEAD TO USA TEAM TRYOUTS: Stanford's Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo, both starters on the U.S. Pan Am Games Team this summer, were among three college players invited to train with the U.S. National Team next spring. Akinradewo will begin training with Team USA in January, while Barboza will join the team in March. Two other Stanford players, setter Bryn Kehoe and outside hitter Alix Klineman, were among 13 players invited to attend tryouts Jan. 7-12, 2008, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

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 seventh on the Stanford career service ace chart (121) and eighth on the career digs chart (1,166). Foluke Akinradewo is tenth with 377 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.

BEST SHOW IN TOWN: Stanford is one of the nation's top 10 programs in home attendance this season, averaging more than 2,300 fans over its 12 home matches this season. Stanford and Washington are the only Pac-10 programs in the top-10 and Hawaii leads the nation with an average of more than 6,000 fans per match.

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 1,202 career kills and 1,137 career kills, respectively. Including Akinradewo and Barboza, only 12 players in Stanford history had accomplished that feat. Bryn Kehoe is currently among 11 Stanford players all-time to notch 1,000 or more career digs.

THE TOUGH ROAD: At 27-2, 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 15 members of the current top-25, and is the only school in the nation to have beaten 13 of them. Stanford leads the nation in wins over ranked opponents (13), and Nebraska is second with 11. No. 5 USC and No. 6 Washington follow with eight wins over currently ranked opponents. Top-ranked Penn State, No. 3 Texas and No. 9 Hawaii have beaten six, while No. 7 California has taken down four. 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 31 double-doubles this season, 26 of which have come against ranked opponents. Akinradewo is leading the team with a .493 hitting percentage, and has hit above .400 in 21 matches. Twelve 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, Cal 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 24 matches, has been named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and leads the team with 4.12 kpg. Ailes, Stanford's libero, has recorded double-digit digs in 27 of the last 28 matches, broke a Stanford single-match dig record and currently leads the team with 4.34 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 27 wins this season, 18 have been sweeps. The Cardinal has won 84 of its 102 games, and allowed just four 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 a 2007 Academic All-American this week, one of two Pac-10 players to be honored. Eighteen players were earned spots on three All-America teams for accomplishments in the classroom and on the court. A Science, Technology and Society major, Barboza earned a spot on the University Division District 8 First Team earlier this month to nab a spot on the 2007 Academic All-America ballot. Barboza is the seventh Academic All-American in program history, following in the footsteps of Susan Compton (1984), Deidra Dvorak (1984), Kim Oden (1984), Terri Bryson (1985), Kristin Folkl (1996, 1997) and Ogonna Nnamani (2002, 2003, 2004).

CONFERENCE CHATTER: Stanford won its 11th Pac-10 title last week, no small feat considering the squad was playing in the toughest conference in the nation. The Pac-10 has won five of the last six NCAA titles and, including 2007, has sent six or more teams to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last eight 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 four are in the top-10. Five Pac-10 squads were seeded in this year's NCAA Tournament.

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 after avenging the loss to Washington. Nebraska, which held onto the top spot for first ten weeks, is No. 2 for the fifth 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 four are in the top-10.

SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: The Broncos are 19-11 this season, and won a share of the West Coast Conference title to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Santa Clara is 2-3 against ranked opponents this season, topping San Diego twice in WCC play and falling to Cal, Florida and Hawaii. Outside hitters Brittany Lowe and Krista Kelley lead the team, notching 4.19 and 4.47 kpg, respectively, while Nina Sevastopoulos (3.36 kpg) and Lindsy Evans (3.29 kpg) also contribute their share of offense. Senior setter Crystal Matich was named the WCC Player of the Year, and turns in 13.24 apg. Kelley was named the conference's Co-Freshman of the Year, and Head Coach Jon Wallace was the WCC Coach of the Year.

SCOUTING MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers enter the tournament with an 18-12 record, and finished tied for third in the Big 10 Conference this season. The team went 2-7 against ranked opponents, topping San Diego on Sept. 2 and Michigan on Sept. 30. After starting the year 12-3, a seven-match losing streak hurt the Golden Gopher momentum, but the squad has won five of its last six. All-Big 10 middle blocker Jessy Jones leads the team with 1.63 bpg and Big 10 All-Freshman selection Brook Dieter leads the team with 3.74 kpg. Junior Kyla Roehrig chips in 3.37 kpg and 1.01 bpg, while setter Rachel Hartmann is averaging 12.32 apg.

SCOUTING SACRAMENTO STATE: The Hornets are 28-7 and captured the Big Sky Championship this year to earn the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Championships. Senior outside hitter Missy Stidham leads the team with 5.32 kpg, and fellow seniors Lindsay Haupt and Jennifer Ferguson are also offensive threats with 3.67 kpg and 3.38 kpg, respectively. Junior setter Rose Burke averages 12.66 apg, and Haupt and Michelle Franz and the blocking forces on the roster, combining for 2.48 bpg. Haupt is a two-time Big Sky MVP, and Stidham and Burke were both All-Conference First Team selections this season.

THE SERIES WITH THE BRONCOS: Stanford has dominated the series with the Broncos, winning 24 of the 25 all-time meetings between the two schools. The Cardinal won 23 straight, including an NCAA Second Round match-up in 1999, but fell in four games to the Broncos in the 2005 NCAA Second Round. Stanford avenged the loss with a sweep of Santa Clara during the 2006 preseason, however, handling the Broncos 30-28, 30-14, 30-23 on Sept. 14, 2006.

THE SERIES WITH THE GOLDEN GOPHERS: Stanford has never been beaten by Minnesota, with a pristine 4-0 mark against the Golden Gophers. Stanford topped Minnesota on its home court earlier this year, winning 3-1 at the Diet Coke Classic on Sept. 1. Prior to that, the last time the two clubs met was under the most exciting of circumstances - the 2004 NCAA Final. In that match, Ogonna Nnamani pounded down 29 kills to help Stanford sweep Minnesota and take home the 2004 NCAA title. Stanford also topped Minnesota, 3-1, at the State Farm Classic in Minnesota in 2002 and, 3-0, at the Jefferson Cup in Virginia in 2001.

THE SERIES WITH THE HORNETS: Stanford is 7-0 all-time against the Hornets, with three of those wins coming in the NCAA Tournament (2002, 2003, 2006). Stanford has swept the Hornets in six of the seven meetings, and took care of them 30-18, 30-18, 30-26 in the NCAA First Round last season.

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.

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