Sacramento Bound! Cardinal Outlasts UCLA to Earn 17th Final Four Trip
Dec. 9, 2007
Stanford, Calif. - For the first time in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, the Cardinal women's volleyball team was stretched to its limit. But for the first time in the tournament, the Cardinal also brought everything it had. Three Cardinal players recorded double-doubles, four hit in double-figures, four tallied double-figure digs, three set career bests and Stanford (31-2) bounced back from a game one loss to top the UCLA Bruins (23-11), 28-30, 30-28, 30-26, 30-27, in the NCAA Regional Final at Maples Pavilion.
Senior setter Bryn Kehoe had the night of her life with a career-best 76 assists. Opposite hitter Erin Waller matched a career-high with 19 kills, outside hitter Cynthia Barboza delivered 21 kills and matched a season-high with 18 digs. Middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo was named the NCAA Regional MVP with an 18-kill performance, and counterpart Franci Girard matched a season-high with seven blocks. Freshman Alix Klineman had the best night of her young collegiate career, posting career highs with 24 kills and 23 digs. Fellow freshman Gabi Ailes chipped in 21 digs and all but ensured that she would break the program's single-season dig record, ending the night just four short of the mark.
Stanford jumped out to an initial 5-3 lead in game one, but Rachell Johnson ripped back-to-back kills in a 7-2 UCLA run that allowed the Bruins to take a 10-7 advantage. Stanford inched closer on a kill and a solo block by Klineman, but the Cardinal was still at a 15-13 deficit at the media break. The Bruins took the first two points out of the break, and, on the shoulders of Kaitlin Sather, added another point out of a Stanford timeout, 18-13. Two UCLA errors narrowed the gap to 19-16, but Stanford could only match the Bruins point-for-point from there. Barboza and Klineman teamed up for a pair of kills to slice the gap to 26-22, but UCLA took game point on Stanford's third straight service error at 29-24. Stanford managed four consecutive points, pulling within one at 29-28 on a solo block by Barboza, but after two UCLA timeouts, Sather slammed her tenth kill of the game from the right side to seal the Bruin win, 30-28. Sather hit .600 with ten kills on 15 attempts in game one, and the Bruins outhit Stanford .312 to .250.
Waller took things into her own hands to start the second set, notching two kills and an ace to give Stanford a 3-0 lead. Klineman added a kill to push it to 4-0, but Sather and Dicey McGraw helped the Bruins steadily climb back within one at 7-6. Akinradewo crushed back-to-back kills to lead Stanford on a 4-1 run to make it 15-11 at the media break. The Cardinal held the lead until 19-15, but UCLA began to fight back. A pair of Bruin blocks tied the match at 21, and began a 5-1 run that finally put UCLA in front 23-22. Waller pounded two kills in a 4-1 Cardinal run that put Stanford back in control 26-24, but the Bruins held on point-for-point. A Kehoe dump gave Stanford game point at 29-27, but a Cardinal service error allowed the Bruins to threaten again. Barboza slammed a ball off the UCLA block to finish things, however, 30-28. Stanford was again outhit by UCLA, .386 to .328, but Barboza's eight kills led the way for the Cardinal.
Stanford took the first point of game three, and managed to maintain a slight edge during the early part of the game. A block by Akinradewo made it 6-4, and Girard slammed a kill to make it 9-6 a few points later. After a Bruin attacking error at 12-9, UCLA strung together three points to tie things at 12, but Stanford had a 5-1 run in store and stretched the lead to 17-13 on a Klineman-Akinradewo block. With the help of Sather, UCLA answered, matching Stanford's momentum with a 5-1 run of its own to knot the score at 19. Setter Nellie Spicer's second consecutive ace gave the Bruins a brief lead at 20-19, but Girard delivered two kills in a 4-0 run to put Stanford back ahead 23-20. UCLA fought back within one on three occasions, and Johnson notched a kill to threaten the Cardinal lead at 27-26. Akinradewo responded with a kill, however, and Klineman followed with another one from the back row to give Stanford game point, 29-26. The freshman then served an ace out of a Bruin timeout to seal the Cardinal win, 30-26. Stanford finally outhit UCLA .352 to .231 in the third game, and Klineman led the squad with eight kills.
Waller ripped her 15th kill for the first point of game four, but UCLA caught fire with seven in a row to jump in front, 7-1. Stanford managed to stop the onslaught, but, initially, struggled to push back. Barboza finally stepped up and single-handedly narrowed the gap, contributing five Stanford points in a 7-1 run that tied the game at 11. Barboza tied things again at 12 and jumpstarted a 4-0 run that was capped by a Girard's third block of the game at 15-12. UCLA fought back to knot the game again at 17, but Klineman drilled a kill and an ace to propel Stanford forward. A Bruin hitting error gave Stanford a 20-17 lead, and Girard and Barboza put up a block to push it to 22-18. The Cardinal battled, using four straight points and another Girard block too go up 26-20. The Bruins were relentless, delivering three consecutive kills to cut it to 26-23 and 28-15, but Klineman came through on game point with her 23rd kill, then finished the job with her 24th two points later at 30-27. Stanford hit .302 in the final game to UCLA's .173.
Stanford advances to its 17th all-time Final Four with the win, and will join Penn State and Pac-10 comrades USC and Cal.
The Cardinal will head to the NCAA Semifinals at ARCO Arena Sacramento next week and will face just the opponent they have been waiting for - the USC Trojans. USC is the only team that Stanford has unfinished business this season, as the Trojans handed the Cardinal one of its two losses on Oct. 27. The Cardinal swept the Trojans at home on Sept. 27, but fell in four games a month later at the Galen Center. The match is set for Thursday evening at a time to be announced.
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