Stanford Set to Battle for NCAA Regional Title at Maples
Dec. 4, 2007
Stanford, Calif. - THIS WEEK: Just 16 teams remain in pursuit of the 2007 NCAA Women's Volleyball title! This week, top-seeded Stanford battles for a spot in its 17th Final Four, welcoming Cal Poly, UCLA and Oregon to the Farm for the Stanford Regional. UCLA and Oregon will begin the action at 7 p.m. (PT) on Friday, and Stanford will square off with Cal Poly in the second Friday match at 9 p.m. (PT). The winners will battle for a ticket to the Final Four in Sacramento on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (PT).
CATCH THE CARDINAL: All three Regional matches hosted by Stanford will be televised live on ESPNU. The matches will not be webcast due to television restrictions, but fans can catch all of the 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. All-session passes are $15, with discounted tickets available for youth, seniors and students. The first 100 Stanford students will be admitted FREE to Friday night's match versus Cal Poly.
ROUND ONE AND TWO RECAP: Stanford cruised into this week's Regional with a pair of First and Second Round sweeps over Santa Clara and Sacramento State. On Friday night, freshman Alix Klineman ripped 19 kills, hit .425 and put up a career-high seven blocks to lead the team to a 30-20, 30-28, 30-27 victory over Santa Clara. On Saturday, Foluke Akinradewo and Cynthia Barboza notched 16 kills apiece as the Cardinal pounded Sacramento State, 30-23, 30-11, 30-28.
FAMILIAR FOES: The members of this year's Stanford Regional are no strangers to each other. Three teams are members of the Pac-10 conference and three are located within a couple hundred miles of each other in the state of California. Seven matches have already been played between the members of the Regional this year. Stanford is 5-0 in those matches, UCLA is 1-3, Oregon is 1-3 and Cal Poly is 0-1. Stanford has won 15 of the 17 games played with members of the Regional this year, and has never been defeated by one of the teams since John Dunning took the reins of the program in 2001. At Stanford, Dunning is combined 30-0 against the three teams in this year's Regional.
DIGS GALORE: Gabi Ailes has already rewritten the Cardinal dig records this season, but the freshman is in search of another one yet. With 468 digs, Ailes is within reach of the Stanford single-season dig record, just 34 short of the all-time mark set by Kristin Richards in 2004 (502). Ailes shattered a single-match dig record with 31 on Oct. 27, and bested the record set by Kristin Klein in 1988 for the most digs recorded by a freshman on Nov. 8. Should she keep her current pace (4.33 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 in early November, Ailes 29 digs also made the program's top-10 single-match performances (4th).
TOP OF THE HEAP: Stanford entered this year's tournament as the overall No. 1 seed, earning the top spot for the first time since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1998. The Cardinal posted a 27-2 record during the regular-season while playing the toughest schedule in the country to earn the No. 1 nod.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: This year marks the Cardinal's 27th-straight NCAA appearance. Stanford is one of only two schools to have appeared in every NCAA Tournament since the NCAA Championships began in 1981, with Penn State being the only other program to appear in all 27 events. Stanford has won more NCAA Championships (6), made more Final Four appearances (16) and won more NCAA Tournament matches (84) than any program in the nation.
SWEET HOME CALIFORNIA: The Cardinal's postseason run has a beginning, middle and end in California this season, as Stanford will go no further than its own backyard for a postseason match. Stanford hosted the first two rounds of action last weekend, and is one of four predetermined sites for this week's NCAA Regionals. 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 on Nov. 23 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.
THE TOUGH ROAD: At 29-2, 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 and Penn State are second with ten. Rounding out the nation's top-five, No. 5 USC has nine and No. 3 Texas has six. Of Stanford's 29 wins, 17 are over teams that made this year's NCAA Tournament. Stanford is 10-1 this year against team's remaining in the round of 16.
CLEANING UP THE CONFERENCE AWARDS: The Cardinal was well-recognized when the 2007 Pac-10 awards were announced last 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.
OPPONENT WOES: Opponents have had a difficult time getting much going offensively against Stanford, a fact shown not only by the Cardinal's 29-2 record, but by the list of opponents' hitting percentages. Of Stanford's 31 opponents, 24 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 18 times, above .400 six 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 Pac-10 team hitting over .300, and the Cardinal's season hitting percentage (.316) currently ranks fourth nationally.
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 second in the nation with 14.30 apg and has 5,701 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 (.498). She has hit above .400 in 23 of the Cardinal's 31 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 .439 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.
SOLID DOWN THE STRETCH: Opposite hitter Erin Waller ended the regular-season with one of the strongest offensive stretches of her career. Six of Waller's seven double-figure performances came in the final eight matches of the regular-season, and she hit above .400 in the final four. 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 has recorded a career-high 17 double-doubles this 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 one of the team's top hitters with 4.03 kpg and 3.31 dpg, and leads the team with 31 service aces. Freshman Alix Klineman also is getting her share of double-doubles (8) as is senior Bryn Kehoe (15), who both added one two their total last weekend in the NCAA First Round.
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 30 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 a steady stream of kills since the conference season began, and the middle blocker added 15 more in the NCAA First and Second Rounds last week. Girard is currently seventh in the Pac-10 with a .336 hitting percentage.
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 205-32 (.865) 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 60-18 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. Former Cardinal players Ogonna Nnamani, Logan Tom and Kristin Richards are also among the candidates for the 2008 Olympic Team.
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 (123) and eighth on the career digs chart (1,179). Foluke Akinradewo is ninth with 386 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 nearly 2,300 fans over its 14 home matches. 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 1,229 career kills and 1,163 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 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 32 double-doubles this season, 26 of which have come against ranked opponents. Akinradewo is leading the team with a .498 hitting percentage, and has hit above .400 in 23 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, Washington 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 26 matches, has been named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and leads the team with 4.17 kpg. Ailes, Stanford's libero, has recorded double-digit digs in 29 of the last 30 matches, broke a Stanford single-match dig record and currently leads the team with 4.33 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 29 wins this season, 20 have been sweeps. The Cardinal has won 90 of its 108 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 last 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-10 and five 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 sixth 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-10.
SCOUTING CAL POLY: The Mustangs (23-7) are battle-tested, having played some of the nation's toughest teams already this season. The squad came out of the tough stretch with an impressive 23-7 record, with three of their losses coming at the hands of Nebraska, Penn State and Stanford. Cal Poly went 15-1 in conference play to capture the Big West title, and has won its last 14 matches. In the NCAA First and Second Rounds, Cal Poly swept Xavier and Purdue in Athens, Ohio to advance to this week's Regional. Two-time Big West Player of the Year Kylie Atherstone leads the team with 4.75 kpg, and junior outside hitter Ali Waller adds 3.66 kpg. Junior middle blocker Jaclyn Houston and freshman middle blocker Dominique Olowolafe are a powerful blocking duo (1.53 and 1.23 bpg, respectively) and the pair also leads the team in hitting percentage. Libero Kristin Jackson chips in 5.33 dpg, and setter Chelsea Hayes is averaging 12.44 apg. Atherston, Waller, Houston, Hayes and Jackson were All-Big West First Team selections this year. Cal Poly advanced to the NCAA Second Round last season, where it fell to California, 3-1.
SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins (22-10) finished tied for fifth in the Pac-10 this season and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships. After winning 13 of their first 14 matches, the Bruins suffered nine losses in Pac-10 play, including the regular-season finale at Arizona on Nov. 24. The Bruins routed Alabama A&M in the NCAA First Round, however, before taking a 3-1 decision from the No. 20 Clemson Tigers on their home court in the Second Round. UCLA is led by All-American setter Nellie Spicer, who averages 12.82 apg this season. Ali Daley, Kaitlin Sather and Rachell Johnson lead the offense for the Bruins, with all three earning All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention this year. Daley is also one of the top servers in the Pac-10 (0.33 aces per game), while Johnson is one of the league's best blockers (1.17 bpg). UCLA advanced to the NCAA Final Four last season, and was eliminated by Nebraska in the National Semifinal.
SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks (22-10) finished tied for fifth in the Pac-10 and have made it to their first ever Sweet Sixteen this year. The Ducks have topped four ranked teams this season, including No. 6 USC on Nov. 8, and have won six of their last seven matches. Oregon began the tournament in Manhattan, Kans., bested Missouri State in the First Round and stunned ninth-seeded Kansas State on its home court in the Second Round. Gorana Maricic, the Pac-10's kill leader, supports the Duck offense with 5.43 kpg, while Sonja Newcombe adds 3.59 kpg. Freshman Heather Meyers, a Pac-10 All-Freshman Team selection, is the toughest server in the Pac-10 with 0.40 aces per game and adds 3.09 kpg. Libero Katie Swoboda chips in 5.24 dpg, one of the top marks in the Pac-10. Last season, the Ducks earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but were eliminated by Hawaii in the First Round.
THE SERIES WITH THE MUSTANGS: The Cardinal and Mustang programs have met ten times, and Stanford holds the edge in the series 6-4. The squads met earlier this year (Sept. 7), and Stanford came away with a decisive sweep, 30-20, 30-18, 30-28. Foluke Akinradewo hit .636 and recorded 15 kills against the Mustangs in that early season match. Stanford has not lost to Cal Poly since 1986.
THE SERIES WITH THE BRUINS: Stanford is 36-31 (.537) all-time against UCLA, and has won all 14 meetings in John Dunning's tenure. This season, Stanford swept the then-No. 5 Bruins at home on Sept. 28 (30-20, 30-23, 31-29) and won in four games at Pauley Pavilion on Oct. 26 (30-20, 28-30, 30-22, 30-27). Alix Klineman led the Cardinal in both matches, with a combined 35 kills in seven games. Stanford has not lost to UCLA since Oct. 19, 2000.
THE SERIES WITH THE DUCKS: Stanford has had much success against the Ducks, and carries a 44-2 (.957) mark against them. The Cardinal lost to the Ducks twice in the 1980s (1986 and 1989), but has won every match since. Stanford swept Oregon in 11 straight meetings, before the Ducks finally took a game from the Cardinal on Nov. 1 of this year. Stanford swept the Ducks in Eugene on Oct. 5 (30-27, 32-30, 30-20) and won in four games at Maples on Nov. 1 (30-24, 27-30, 30-19, 30-17). Alix Klineman led the team in both matches with a combined 34 kills in seven games.
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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