No. 6 Stanford Set To Open Pac-10 Season

Sept. 23, 2008

UP NEXT: The Stanford women's volleyball team opens Pac-10 play this week, taking on Oregon State and No. 11 Oregon at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal will look to extend a 46-match winning streak against the Beavers Friday night, then will look to take down a hot Oregon team on Saturday. Both matches are set for 7 p.m.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Cardinal is back on the road next week, traveling to the state of Washington to meet the Cougars and Huskies in a Friday-Sunday swing. After a Friday night match with Washington State, Stanford will head Bank of America Arena in Seattle on Sunday and look to repeat its 2007 win over No. 9 Washington on live TV.

LOOKING BACK: Stanford was in San Luis Obispo last week, playing in the Mission Inn of Pismo Beach Invitational hosted by Cal Poly. The Cardinal won both of its matches at the event, sweeping Saint Mary's (25-16, 25-23, 25-17) before riding a 20-kill night by senior outside hitter Cynthia Barboza to best the host Mustangs in four sets (25-17, 23-25, 26-24, 25-10).

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

HONDA AWARD PRESENTATION SET FOR FRIDAY: Stanford's Foluke Akinradewo received one of the highest honors in collegiate volleyball last season, being recognized as the nation's top collegiate female volleyball player with the Honda Award. The honor was based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program. The award is given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports. On Friday, the Cardinal senior will be presented with the award prior to the team's match against Oregon State.

COME ON OUT: Friday is Youth Jersey Night at Maples Pavilion. Any youth wearing a school or club team jersey receive $1 general admission. Additionally, Friday is Stanford Campus Night, with any Stanford faculty/staff and Stanford and Packard Hospital employees receiving $2 general admission with a valid SU/Hospitals ID. The first Chalk Talk of the season will be held with Coach John Dunning on Saturday at 5 pm in the Maples media room. Chalk Talks are reserved for Buck Cardinal donors at the $250+ level, however, this Saturday's Chalk Talk will be open to the public. Subsequent Chalk Talks will only be available to Buck Cardinal donors ($250+). Following Saturday's match against Oregon, the Cardinal players will be signing free posters.

BARBOZA BRINGS DOWN CAL POLY: Senior outside hitter Cynthia Barboza stepped up big for the Cardinal last weekend, helping the team sweep the Mission Inn at Pismo Beach Invitational and defeat its third ranked opponent of the year. After posting seven kills and eight digs in a Friday night rout of Saint Mary's, Barboza caught fire against No. 19 Cal Poly and ripped 20 kills in the four-set win while hitting at a season-best .462 clip. Barboza had seven kills in the crucial third set, and in the clinching set, the Mustangs had just eight kills and hit -.034, while Barboza alone had six kills and hit .857. The Long Beach, Calif. native also had 12 digs to pick up her fourth double-double of the year. For the weekend, she averaged 3.86 kps and hit at a .361 clip from the outside.

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 month of her final collegiate season, Akinradewo is hitting .442 and on pace to finish with the best career hitting percentage ever recorded by an NCAA Division I player. The previous record (.423) was posted by Virag Domokos of George Mason in 1996.

BLOCKING MADNESS: Stanford put up a season-high 13 blocks against Cal Poly last week, marking the second time in the last two weeks that Stanford has hit double figures. Senior Foluke Akinradewo has been the force behind much of Stanford's improved blocking recently. The senior has had six or more blocks in four of the last five matches, and has racked up 28 blocks over the last two weeks. Against the Mustangs, Akinradewo posted a season-high seven blocks to help Stanford top its third ranked opponent of the year. Fellow middle blocker Janet Okogbaa was close behind, matching a career high with six blocks against Cal Poly.

ACE CHASE: Cynthia Barboza is one ace away from becoming one of the ten most dangerous servers in Stanford history. The Cardinal senior dropped in her 100th career ace against Saint Mary's last Friday. One more will tie her with all-time greats Kim Oden `86 and Cary Wendell `96 for 10th place on the program's career list (104).

UP THE CHARTS: Senior Foluke Akinradewo is steadily making her way up both the Stanford career kill and block charts. She currently stands seventh on the blocks list (456) and tenth on the kills list (1,406). Just five blocks shy of sixth place on the latter chart, Akinradewo will likely pass former middle blocker Jennifer Detmer `01 this weekend.

HITTING THE MARK: Two of the Pac-10's top three hitting percentage leaders hail from The Farm - middle blockers Foluke Akinradewo (2nd, .442) and Janet Okogbaa (3rd, .398). Akinradewo, who led the nation in hitting percentage last year, currently ranks fourth nationally. As a team, Stanford is one of seven programs hitting above .300 for the year.

650 DOWN: Head Coach John Dunning earned his 650th career win in the team's home-opener against New Mexico State on Sept. 11. 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 was the 17th coach in NCAA history to hit the 650-win mark.

NEW LOOK: The Stanford offense has a new look this year, running a 6-2 offense with setters Cassidy Lichtman and Joanna Evans. Stanford has not run a 6-2 offense since 1995, when All-Americans Lisa Sharpley and Cary Wendell shared the setting duties. The pair led the Cardinal to the 1994 national title running the same offense.

CATCH A GLIMPSE: Fans have many great chances to catch the Cardinal live this season. Stanford will appear on live TV five times during the regular season, with the next coming up on Fox Sports Net on Oct. 5 against Washington. Stanford is ranked among the top 15 programs in the nation in home attendance so far in 2008, and has helped set facility attendance records at each of its three road matches this season.

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 two of Stanford's preseason tournaments, has recorded five double-doubles, and set new personal bests for kills (10), assists (31), aces (4), blocks (3) and hitting percentage (.533). Last weekend in San Luis Obispo, Lichtman turned in 36 assists, 12 kills and 20 digs over two matches.

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.

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.

NATIONAL POLL: Stanford remains at No. 6 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-game 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 OREGON STATE: The Beavers went 10-20 last year and took ninth in the Pac-10. Led by Australian outside hitter Rachel Rourke, who was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick last year, the Beavers have already won more matches than they did the entirety of last season (11-2). OSU posted a huge win for the program on Saturday, defeating No. 13 Wisconsin at the Marquette Cheese Bowl. Rourke leads the team with 3.90 kps and sophomore Jill Sawatzky is close behind at 3.06 kps. Junior Camilla Ah-Hoy has taken on full-time setting duties for the Beavers this year, and has been turning in 9.98 aps.

THE SERIES WITH THE BEAVERS: Stanford has never lost to Oregon State, and is riding a 46-match win streak in contests involving the two. Last year, the Cardinal swept the Beavers twice. Cynthia Barboza led Stanford with 17 kills in Corvallis, while Alix Klineman pounded 15 kills in the November matchup at Maples Pavilion.

SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks posted the best non-conference winning percentage in the Pac-10 this year, going 11-1 in the preseason. The team is coming off an impressive year that saw it post a 22-11 record and advance to its first-ever NCAA Regional. The 11th-ranked Ducks have six starters back, and are aiming to build on their 2007 win total. All-American outside hitter Gorana Maricic is back for her senior season, after leading the league with 5.50 kpg last season. So far this year, Maricic is averaging 3.85 kps to lead the team and veteran libero Katie Swoboda leads the league in digs (4.66 dps). Oregon is the Pac-10's best blocking team so far, with junior middle blocker Neticia Enesi leading the league with 1.48 bps.

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 last November. Stanford swept the Ducks in Eugene (30-27, 32-30, 30-20) and won in four games at Maples (30-24, 27-30, 30-19, 30-17). Alix Klineman led the team in both matches with a combined 34 kills in seven games.

STANFORD PROBABLE STARTERS

MB - #16 Foluke Akinradewo
Notables: Defending AVCA National Player of the Year ... a three-time All-American ... beginning her fourth season in the starting lineup ... an alternate for the 2008 Olympic team ... Sept. 8 Pac-10 Player of the Week after hitting .687 over four matches ... hit a career-high .923 vs. No. 19 Illinois (9/6) ... on pace to break the NCAA career hitting percentage record (.442) ... ranked fourth nationally in hitting percentage, and also stands among the nation's top 20 in blocks per set ... one of Stanford's ten all-time kill and block leaders ... has posted six or more blocks in four of the last five matches.

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 (9/6) ... currently ranked third in the Pac-10 in hitting percentage (.398) ... matched a career-high with six blocks against Cal Poly last Saturday.

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 one service ace of joining the school's top-10 all-time leaders in that category ... has four double-doubles this year, including a season-best 20-kill, 12-dig performance against Cal Poly last Saturday.

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 No. 3 Texas ... the MVP of the Stanford Invitational after posting 4.44 kps and a .481 hitting percentage ... hit a career-high .615 (16-0-26) against Santa Clara (9/13).

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 in 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 five double-doubles this year and has been named to the all-tournament team at two of Stanford's preseason tournaments ... leads the team in assists, is third in digs and fourth in both kills and points.

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