No. 7 Cardinal Opens Home Action With The Stanford Invitational

Sept. 9, 2008

UP NEXT: The Stanford women's volleyball team plays its first matches on The Farm this week, opening the home season by hosting the Stanford Invitational. The Cardinal will play its season-opener against New Mexico State at 7 p.m. on Thursday night, then meets UC Santa Barbara on Friday night and Santa Clara on Saturday night, both at 7 p.m. Each night, Stanford's match will be preceded by a 4:30 p.m. neutral-site match between the other two squads involved in the tournament.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Cardinal heads back on the road next weekend to take part in the Cal Poly Invitational in San Luis Obispo. The Cardinal will play two matches at the event, battling Saint Mary's on Friday, Sept. 19 before taking on host Cal Poly on Saturday, Sept. 20.

LOOKING BACK: Stanford returned to the Bay Area Sunday after an 11-day, six-match season-opening road trip. The Cardinal posted a 4-2 record over the 11 days, and played in three cities around the country. At its most recent tournament, the Billiken Invitational in St. Louis, Stanford swept William & Mary and No. 19 Illinois before being upset by host Saint Louis in the final match.

Kerri Walsh TO ATTEND OPENER: Former Stanford great Kerri Walsh `00 will make an appearance at the home opener Thursday night. The two-time Olympic gold medalist will sign autographs from 6:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in the Maples concourse, and will be honored on the court after set two. Fans will also receive free schedule magnets at the opening match. Also this week, Stanford will celebrate Camper Reunion Night on Friday and will have a poster/autograph night following Saturday night's match against Santa Clara.

CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch all three Cardinal matches this week via free live webcast at www.GoStanford.com. KZSU radio will also be broadcasting all three matches at 90.1 FM or online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/. Live stats will also be available on Gametracker.

JUST SHORT OF FLAWLESS: Senior middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo was just about flawless last week, hitting .687 over the week's four matches with 49 kills in 67 swings. For her efforts, she named the MVP of the Saint Louis Invitational and earned her fourth career Pac-10 Player of the Week honor. In the team's first match at Central Florida, the senior contributed eight kills while hitting .636. On Friday, she had perhaps the best performance of her career, recording 20 kills on 24 tries without a single error (.833), the first time in her career that she has reached 20 kills in just three sets. On Saturday, the player who is on pace to break the NCAA career hitting percentage record hit a career-best .923 against No. 19 Illinois, tallying 12 kills on 13 swings.

SWINGING FOR THE RECORD: Entering her senior season, Foluke Akinradewo has already rewritten the hitting percentage column in the NCAA, Pac-10 and Stanford record books. Last year, she posted the second highest hitting percentage in NCAA history (.499) and shattered both the Pac-10 and Stanford single-season records by more than 50 points. After the first two weeks of her final collegiate season, Akinradewo is hitting .443 and on pace to finish with the best career hitting percentage ever recorded by an NCAA Division I player.

COUNTING DOWN TO 650: Head Coach John Dunning could earn his 650th career win in the team's home-opener against New Mexico State Thursday. Dunning, who has won more NCAA championships than any coach in the game, is among the top-five active coaches in terms of winning percentage, and currently stands 10th among active coaches in terms of career victories. He will be the 17th coach in NCAA history to hit the 650-win mark.

CATCHING ON QUICKLY: Sophomore Cassidy Lichtman has wasted no time transitioning into her new setter/hitter role. Lichtman has been named to the all-tournament team at both of Stanford's preseason tournaments so far, has recorded four double-doubles in six matches, and set new personal bests for kills (10), assists (31), aces (4), blocks (3) and hitting percentage (.533).

QUEEN OF THE COURT: Stanford's Foluke Akinradewo begins her senior season as the reigning AVCA National Player of the Year. Akinradewo tallied 4.11 kpg last season, while leading the nation with a .499 hitting percentage. She is the eighth AVCA National Player of the Year from Stanford, and the fourth that Head Coach John Dunning has produced since coming to The Farm seven seasons ago.

ALL-AMERICAN FIREPOWER: Stanford returns an arsenal of All-American hitters for 2008 - Foluke Akinradewo, Cynthia Barboza and Alix Klineman. Together, the trio boasts six career All-America honors, including four first-team selections, along with a National Player of the Year award and a National Freshman of the Year award. The threesome brings back a combined 12.22 kills per game while hitting at a clip well above .300. All told, the trio's accomplishments amount to more returning firepower than the Cardinal program has ever seen.

RECORDS CHASE: Last Saturday, Foluke Akinradewo, already one of the 10 best blockers in school history, became one of program's top-10 kill leaders as well. The middle blocker is currently seventh on the block list with 428, and 10th on the kill list with 1367.

OFFSEASON OF CHAMPIONS: Stanford's three returning All-Americans all spent the offseason training with the U.S. Women's National Team in Colorado Springs. Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo competed in the FIVB World Grand Prix and were both alternates for the 2008 Olympic Team. Akinradewo and Barboza were the only two players with collegiate eligibiliy remaining named to the 19-player Olympic preliminary roster. Alix Klineman, the youngest player in Colorado Springs at just age 18, trained with the team from January to June, toured China with the squad in March and, along with Barboza, competed in the Pan Am Cup in June.

VETERANS ALL AROUND: The Cardinal boasts 11 players who have been to a national championship match, including seven who have taken the team to the coveted match twice. Six members of the starting rotation return from last year, including all four primary passers. Between the 11 veterans, the 2008 Cardinal boasts 12 years in the starting lineup and more than 3,500 kills. Before 2008 even started, the veterans had already contributed to 88 Cardinal wins, two conference titles and a pair of Final Four appearances. Ten members of the Stanford roster have postseason court experience.

FIRST LOOK: Cardinal newcomers Katherine Knox and Katherine Sebastian made their collegiate debuts last week. Knox landed an ace in the back corner on her first collegiate serve last Friday, and both players picked up a couple defensive digs in their inaugural appearances.

NATIONAL POLL: Stanford came in at No. 7 this week in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. The Cardinal began the season at No. 2 in the poll, but dropped after losing two matches. Defending national champion Penn State continues to hold the top spot in the poll, and five Pac-10 squads remain in the top-10.

PICKED TO THREE-PEAT: The Stanford women's volleyball team was unanimously chosen by the league's coaches to win the Pac-10 volleyball title for the third consecutive season. Stanford claimed the maximum 90 points in the preseason poll, 15 more than second-place UCLA, including the first-place votes of each of the league's nine opponent head coaches. Once again, the Pac-10 sent three teams to the Final Four in 2007 (Stanford, USC and California). It marked the third time in four seasons that the Pac-10 made up three-fourths of the Final Four field. The conference has taken home five of the last seven NCAA titles. The coaches have correctly picked the Pac-10 champion in 12 of the previous 19 polls.

2007 IN REVIEW: In 2007, Stanford posted a 32-3 record and won an unprecedented 11th Pac-10 title. The team finished the year with a postseason run to its 13th NCAA title match, where it fell to Penn State in a five-set thriller. On the year, Stanford bested 18 ranked opponents, outhit 33 of the 35 teams it faced and won 21 matches by 3-0 margins. Four players - Foluke Akinradewo, Alix Klineman, Bryn Kehoe and Cynthia Barboza - were named All-Americans, matching the highest total in program history, and, for the eighth time, Stanford produced the AVCA National Player of the Year.

TAKING ON THE BEST: Once again, Head Coach John Dunning has lined up one of the most challenging schedules in the nation for the Cardinal. Fourteen of Stanford's regular-season matches are against teams that are currently in the top-25, and 15 are against teams that made the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Half of the teams in top-10 hail from the Pac-10 Conference.

SCOUTING NEW MEXICO STATE: The Aggies went 26-6 last season, took second place in the WAC and made their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Four of the team's five All-WAC selections return, including first-teamers Amber Simpson, Krystal Torres and Lindsey Yon. So far in 2008, Yon has led the team to a 4-4 record with 3.80 kps, while junior Krista Altermatt has notched 2.12 kps. Torres, the team's veteran libero, leads the team with 3.90 dps.

THE SERIES WITH THE AGGIES: Stanford has played New Mexico State just once before, on Sept. 28, 1979. That year, the Cardinal claimed a 2-0 sweep over the Aggies. Stanford is 59-29 all-time against the Western Athletic Conference.

SCOUTING UC SANTA BARBARA: The Gauchos went 14-18 last season, and finished seventh in the Big West. This season, UCSB is off to a 3-2 start, and is led by junior Rebecca Saraceno (3.25 kps) and sophomore Charlene DeHoog (3.38 kps). The Gauchos also return key players in 2007 All-Big West outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin (2.56 kps) and setter Dana Vargas (10.12 aps).

THE SERIES WITH THE GAUCHOS: Stanford and UC Santa Barbara have met 14 times, and the Cardinal holds an 8-6 advantage in the series. Stanford won the two most recent meetings in 2005 and 2006, and has won eight of the 10 meetings since 1983. The Gauchos last defeated the Cardinal in five games in the second round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament.

SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: The Broncos went 19-12 in 2007, captured the WCC title and were eliminated by the Cardinal in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The team returns 10 letterwinners, including 2007 WCC Co-Freshman of the Year Krista Kelley and first-team All-WCC pick Brittany Lowe. Additionally, the squad returns two-time All-American Anna Cmaylo, who redshirted the 2007 season. So far in 2008, the Broncos are 4-1 and are led by Lowe's 3.67 kps and Cmaylo's 3.15 kps.

THE SERIES WITH THE BRONCOS: Stanford has won 25 of the 26 times that the Cardinal and Broncos have played, including the two most recent meetings in 2006 and 2007. Last year, Stanford swept Santa Clara to knock the team out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Santa Clara's only victory came in 2005, when the Broncos claimed a 3-1 win in the NCAA Second Round.

STANFORD PROBABLE STARTERS

MB - #16 Foluke Akinradewo
Notables: Defending AVCA National Player of the Year ... Sept. 8 Pac-10 Player of the Week after hitting .687 over four matches ... a three-time All-American ... beginning her fourth season in the starting lineup ... an alternate for the 2008 Olympic team ... named the MVP of the Billiken Invitational last week ... on pace to break the NCAA career hitting percentage record ... became one of Stanford's 10 all-time kill leaders against Illinois last week (1,367).

MB - #2 Janet Okogbaa
Notables: Beginning her first season in the starting lineup ... was the No. 2 recruit nationally back in 2006 ... had a career-high eight kills against Saint Louis last Saturday ... currently ranked among the top-10 in the Pac-10 in hitting percentage.

OH - #1 Cynthia Barboza
Notables: A two-time first-team All-American ... an alternate for both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic teams ... a four-year starter ... within nine service aces of joining the school's top-10 all-time leaders in that category ... has two-double-doubles this year, including a season-best 18-kill, 14-dig performance against Texas.

OH - #10 Alix Klineman
Notables: The Volleyball Magazine National Freshman of the Year last season ... a 2007 second-team All-American ... led team offensively last season with 4.12 kpg ... led the team with 21 kills in victory over Texas.

S - #3 Joanna Evans
Notables: Has been setting from the back row for Stanford this season, her first in the starting lineup ... had a season-high 28 assists in the win over Texas at the AVCA Showcase.

OPP - #12 Erin Waller
Notables: Stanford's opposite hitter enters her third season as a starter ... has a history of stepping up in big matches, with the two best performances of her career coming the the 2006 national championship match (18 kills) and the 2007 regional final (19 kills).

L - #9 Gabi Ailes
Notables: Broke Stanford's single-season (533) and single-match (31) dig records as a freshman last season and earned Pac-10 All-Freshman Honorable Mention ... Had seven 20+ dig performances last year ... has reached the 20-dig plateau twice already this year, against Texas (22) and Saint Louis (24).

S/OH - #8 Cassidy Lichtman
Notables: Has transitioned into a new setter/hitter role this year after primarily being a DS last season ... Already has a team-best four double-doubles this year and has been named to the all-tournament team at both of Stanford's first two tournaments.

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