No. 4 Stanford Clashes With No. 5 Cal In Battle Of Pac-10 Unbeatens

Oct. 14, 2008

UP NEXT: Two of the nation's best women's volleyball teams will meet at Maples Pavilion this weekend, looking to claim sole possession of first place in the Pac-10. No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 California put their undefeated conference records on the line Sunday at 12:30 p.m. The match will be televised live by Fox Sports Bay Area.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Cardinal is back on the road next week, heading to Los Angeles to wrap up the first half of conference play. Stanford takes on No. 11 USC at the Galen Center 8 p.m. on Oct. 24, then meets No. 10 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion in a 12:30 p.m. match on Oct. 26.

LOOKING BACK: Stanford is coming off a perfect weekend at Maples Pavilion, with sweeps of the two Arizona schools. Sophomore Alix Klineman led the Cardinal offensively with 23 kills in two matches, and senior Foluke Akinradewo had perhaps the best blocking weekend of her career, with 18 in six sets (3.00 bps).

CATCH THE CARDINAL: Sunday's match will be televised live on Fox Sports Bay Area and a number of other FSN affiliates. Fans can also catch both matches on KZSU radio (90.1 FM and online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/). Live stats for both matches will be available on Gametracker. The match WILL NOT be webcast this weekend due to live television agreements.

IN MAPLES THIS WEEK: In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Stanford volleyball will `Dig for the Cure' against Cal this Sunday. The team will be collecting donations to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. All proceeds will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the event is sponsored by Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Free pink wristbands and self-exam shower cards will be available to the first 300 people wearing pink to the game! Wear PINK to show your support and help Stanford Dig for the Cure!

BLOCK BITS: Foluke Akinradewo had perhaps the best blocking weekend of her career against the Arizona schools last week. The senior had 18 stuffs in six sets (3.00 bps), including a career-high 12 against Arizona State on Sunday. The performance tied the ninth-best ever by a Stanford player and were the most in a single match since Akinradewo herself recorded 12 as a freshman in 2005 against UCLA. With 12 kills as well on Sunday, the middle blocker picked up her second career double-double (other was at UCLA in `05). With her big weekend, Akinradewo moved up 18 spots to seventh nationally in blocking, and is now tops in the Pac-10 (1.47).

FAB FIVE AT THE NET: With her big blocking performance against Arizona State, Foluke Akinradewo also passed a major career milestone. Akinradewo is now one of the top five blockers in school history with 487 career stuffs. The other four members of the club are Kim Oden `86, Bev Oden `93, Laura Olesen `90 and Kerri Walsh `00.

SUPER START: Stanford's sweep of Arizona State was its sixth consecutive in Pac-10 play, marking the first time in the program's 32-year history that the team has opened the conference season with six consecutive sweeps. It is the first time since 1999 that the team has swept six conference opponents in a row. A win over Cal would mark the first time Stanford has started 7-0 in conference play since 2001, and the first time the team has swept seven conference opponents in a row since 1996.

BULLDOZING THE COMPETITION: Stanford enters this weekend riding a season-long 11-match win streak. The Cardinal, which swept 21 opponents last season, has shown signs of the same dominance this year. With at least 12 matches to play, Stanford has already swept 13 opponents, including 10 of its last 11. The Cardinal has now won 11 straight matches, and 33 of 34 sets since being upset by Saint Louis on Sept. 6.

IN THE CLUB: Senior Cynthia Barboza joined an elite group of Pac-10 players earlier this month, reaching 1,000 career digs against Washington State on Oct. 3. The senior posted the 1,000th kill of her career against Washington in October 2007, and is now just the seventh Stanford player since 1986 to record both 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. Kristin Richards `07, Kristin Klein `92, Cary Wendell `96, Kerri Walsh `00, Logan Tom `03 and Bev Oden `93 are the other Cardinal players who have accomplished the feat.

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 half 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. The previous record (.423) was posted by Virag Domokos of George Mason in 1996.

ACE CHASE: Cynthia Barboza is one of the ten most dangerous servers in Stanford history, joining the club against Oregon State on Sept. 26. The senior now holds sole possession of tenth place, with 106 career aces.

UP THE CHARTS: Senior Foluke Akinradewo is steadily making her way up both the Stanford career kill and block charts. She remains in fifth place on the blocks list (487) and tenth place on the kills list (1,455).

HITTING THE MARK: Three of the Pac-10's top 10 leaders in hitting percentage, including two of the top four, hail from The Farm - middle blockers Foluke Akinradewo (1st, .452) and Janet Okogbaa (4th, .376) and outside hitter Alix Klineman (9th, .333). Akinradewo, who led the nation in hitting percentage last year, currently ranks fourth nationally. As a team, Stanford leads the Pac-10 with a .331 clip, stands third nationally and is one of only five programs hitting above .300 for the year. The Cardinal's 2008 hitting percentage is currently the best in school history, 15 points above the record of .316 the team set last year.

OPPONENT WOES: Opponents have had a difficult time getting much going offensively against Stanford, a fact shown not only by the Cardinal's 15-2 record, but by the list of opponents' hitting percentages. Of Stanford's 17 opponents, 12 have hit below .200, with seven not even able to hit .100. Saint Louis (.273) was the only club 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 13 times, above .400 three times and only Nebraska has held the squad below .250. Since falling to Saint Louis on Sept. 6, Stanford has hit over .300 in 10 of its 11 matches, and held all but one opponent (Oregon) below .200 hitting.

DIGGING DEEP: Stanford libero Gabi Ailes set a new school single-season dig record last season (533), and was just the second player in school history to turn in more than four digs per game. This year, even with the new scoring format, Ailes is turning in impressive dig numbers. The sophomore is averaging 3.91 dps, and is carrying a career average (4.16) better than any player in program history.

NEW LOOK: The Stanford offense has a new look this year, running a 6-2 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 six times during the regular season, with the next coming up this weekend live on FSN. Stanford is ranked among the top 15 programs in the nation in home attendance so far in 2008, draws the most fans in the Pac-10 and has helped set facility attendance records at three of its non-conference road matches.

CATCHING ON QUICKLY: Sophomore Cassidy Lichtman has wasted no time transitioning into her new setter/hitter role. Lichtman was named to the all-tournament team at two of Stanford's preseason tournaments, has recorded six double-doubles, and set new personal bests for kills (10), assists (31), aces (4), blocks (4) and hitting percentage (.533). Last weekend against the Arizona schools, Lichtman turned in 10 kills, 39 assists and 16 digs and picked up her sixth double-double of the year.

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 prior years in the starting lineup and more than 4,000 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 stayed at No. 4 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 early matches. Defending national champion Penn State continues to hold the top spot in the poll, five Pac-10 squads remain in the top-10 and seven conference teams are in the top-25.

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. Sixteen 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 CALIFORNIA: Coming off their first Final Four appearance in school history and a fourth-place Pac-10 finish, the Golden Bears have carried their momentum from the landmark season into 2008. Cal is 16-1 this year, with their only loss coming at the hands of No. 12 Minnesota on Sept. 12. Like the Cardinal, the Bears have swept every Pac-10 opponent so far. Cal leads the conference with 15.04 kps, a mark which ranks third nationally and joins Stanford as one of five programs in the nation hitting over .300. Junior outside hitter Hana Cutura leads the Pac-10 with 4.45 kps, the highest per set average of any player on a ranked team. Cutura is also one of the top two servers in the conference with 23 aces. Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd leads the Pac-10 and ranks third nationally with 11.94 aps.

THE SERIES WITH THE GOLDEN BEARS: Stanford has dominated the series with Cal, going 59-5 (.922) all-time against the rival Golden Bears. The Cardinal has come out on top in each of the last seven meetings, with Cal getting its last win in a five-game match in Berkeley in 2004. Last season, Stanford won both matches, taking the first in four games in Berkeley behind Alix Klineman's 22 kills (27-30, 30-26, 32-30, 30-25). In the regular-season finale, Stanford came from behind to win a five-game thriller at Maples and clinch its 11th Pac-10 title outright (30-32, 30-19, 23-30, 30-22, 16-14).

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 (.443) ... ranked fourth nationally in hitting percentage, and also stands among the nation's top 10 in blocks per set ... leads the Pac-10 in both hitting percentage and blocks ... one of Stanford's ten all-time kill and block leaders ... posted the ninth best blocking performance in school history (12) and her second career double-double against Arizona State last week.

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 fourth in the Pac-10 in hitting percentage (.376) ... matched a career-high with six blocks against Cal Poly on Sept. 20.

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 ... among the school's top-10 all-time leaders with 106 service aces ... has reached double figures in six of the last seven matches ... ranked among the Pac-10's top 10 in kills and points.

OH - #10 Alix Klineman
Notables: The Volleyball Magazine National Freshman of the Year last season ... a 2007 second-team All-American after leading the team offensively 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 ... also named Pac-10 Player of the Week for the effort (9/15) ... hit a career-high .615 (16-0-26) against Santa Clara (9/13) ... ranked among the Pac-10's top 10 in hitting percentage, kills and points.

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 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 six 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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