No. 2 Stanford Aims To Build Momentum In The Desert

Nov. 3, 2008

UP NEXT: The Stanford women's volleyball team continues the race to the Pac-10 title this week with road matches at Arizona State and Arizona. The second-ranked Cardinal squares off with the Sun Devils of ASU in Tempe at 7 p.m. (MT) on Friday night, then travels to Tucson to meet the Arizona Wildcats at 7 p.m. (MT) on Saturday.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Cardinal heads across the Bay on Friday, Nov. 14, looking to avenge an Oct. 19 loss to the California Golden Bears. The Pac-10's top two squads are slated to square off at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. The match will be televised live by Comcast SportsNet West.

LOOKING BACK: Stanford is coming off another solid conference weekend, having completed a season sweep of both Washington schools in the same year for the first time since 2001. Led by the offense of senior Cynthia Barboza, Stanford swept both Washington and Washington State and claimed sole possession of first place in the Pac-10.

CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch both matches this week live on KZSU radio (90.1 FM or online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/). Live stats will also be available on Gametracker.

BARBOZA LEADS THE WAY: Senior Cynthia Barboza led the way offensively for the Cardinal again last week, posting nearly five points per set (4.92) in sweeps of Washington and Washington State. In the showdown between the nation's No. 5 and No. 6 squads on Friday night, Barboza pounded 14 kills on .314 hitting and added 12 digs for her third double-double in as many matches. On Sunday, she stepped up with eight of her 13 kills in the clinching third set to lead all players in the match against WSU. She also hit .414, the fifth time this season she has passed .400. For the weekend, Barboza averaged 4.50 kps and 2.50 dps while hitting .359 from the outside.

LEADER OF THE PAC: As the Pac-10 season nears its final stretch, Stanford now has sole possession of first place with a 10-1 record. The Cardinal is in the driver's seat for its third consecutive conference title, holding a one-match lead over rival California (9-2). Washington (8-3) and Oregon (7-4) remain close behind, but no team has ever won the conference title with more than two losses. Nine Pac-10 teams are over .500 and all but Washington State are still battling for an NCAA berth. Every Pac-10 team that has finished over .500 since 1996 has made the NCAA Tournament.

DIGGING DEEP: Stanford libero Gabi Ailes is coming off perhaps her best defensive performance of the year. Last Sunday against Washington State, Ailes recorded 19 digs, her highest total so far in 2008 Pac-10 play and a career high for a three-set match. The Bellevue, Neb. native set a new school single-season dig record last year (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 3.90 dps, and is carrying a career average (4.13) better than any player in program history.

MILESTONES AT THE NET: Senior Foluke Akinradewo reached yet another notable blocking milestone last week, passing Laura Olesen `90 for third place on the Cardinal career chart. The senior leads the Pac-10 in blocking and is among the top 10 nationally in the category. She recorded one of the best single-match blocking performances in school history against Arizona State (12) on Oct. 12.

UP THE CHARTS: Foluke Akinradewo is steadily making her way up the Stanford career kill chart, and now stands in ninth place with 1,516. In the first set against Washington on Friday, she became the 36th player in Pac-10 history and the ninth player at Stanford to reach 1,500. Currently the conference's active career kill leader, she needs 37 more to pass three-time Olympian Kerri Walsh.

ON THE BOARD: Cynthia Barboza jumped onto two exclusive career lists against Washington last Friday, joining the school's all-time career kill and dig leaders on the same night. Already one of the ten most dangerous servers in Stanford history with 107 career aces, Barboza is one of only four players (others are Kristin Richards `07, Kristin Klein `92 and Logan Tom `03) with a spot on all three of those career lists.

IN THE CLUB: Senior Cynthia Barboza joined an elite group of Pac-10 players last 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.

CLEAN SWEEP: Stanford, which swept 21 opponents last year, is well on its way to matching that impressive feat. With seven regular-season matches to play, the Cardinal has swept 15 opponents, including 12 of its last 16. The team opened the conference season with six consecutive sweeps for the first time in school history this year.

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. Nearing the final stretch of her last collegiate season, Akinradewo is hitting .444 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.

HITTING THE MARK: Two of the Pac-10's top five leaders in hitting percentage, including leader Foluke Akinradewo, hail from The Farm. Akinradewo paces the conference and is fourth in the nation with a .451 clip, while fellow middle blocker Janet Okogbaa is fifth in the conference at .365. As a team, Stanford leads the Pac-10 with a .319 clip, stands third nationally and is one of only four programs hitting above .300 for the year (Cal, Penn State and Texas are the others). The Cardinal's 2008 hitting percentage is currently the best in school history, just 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 19-3 record, but by the list of opponents' hitting percentages. Of Stanford's 22 opponents, 14 have hit below .200, with seven not even able to hit .100. Only three teams have hit more than .250 against the Cardinal this year (Saint Louis, Cal and UCLA), and no one has been able to reach .300. By contrast, Stanford has hit above .300 15 times, above .400 four times and only three teams have held the squad below .250 (Nebraska, Cal and USC). Since falling to Saint Louis on Sept. 6, Stanford has hit over .300 in 12 of its 16 matches, and held all but four opponents (UCLA, Cal, Oregon and Washington) below .200 hitting.

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 seven times during the regular season, with the final appearance coming against Cal on Nov. 14. Stanford ranks 12th nationally in home attendance 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, including the prestigious AVCA Showcase at the start of the year. She has recorded seven double-doubles and set new personal bests in every statistical category. Last week, Lichtman turned in 55 assists (9.17 aps) and led the team with four blocks against Washington State.

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 4,500 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 leapt back up to No. 2 this week in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, reclaiming the slot it held in the preseason rankings. Defending national champion Penn State continues to hold the top spot in the poll, having been No. 1 since the start of the year. Six Pac-10 squads are now 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. Fifteen 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. Six teams in the top-10 hail from the Pac-10 Conference. Stanford has already played seven of its fellow nine top-10 teams.

SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: Arizona State (12-11, 3-7 Pac-10), which finished seventh in the Pac-10 and just missed the NCAA Tournament last year, enters this weekend tied with rival Arizona for seventh place in the conference. The Sun Devils are led by sophomore Sarah Reaves, who ranks fourth in the Pac-10 with 3.97 kps and 4.41 pps. Senior Margie Giordano is turning in a respectable 3.33 kps to further help the Sun Devil offense. Freshman middle blocker Sonja Markanovich has recently emerged as one of the best blockers in the conference (1.16 bps).

THE SERIES WITH THE SUN DEVILS: Stanford is 53-4 (.930) against the Sun Devils all-time, and has not lost to them since John Dunning took the helm in 2001. As matter of fact, Stanford has lost to Arizona State just twice in the last two decades with the most recent coming in Tempe in 2000. Earlier this year, Stanford swept ASU in Maples, with Foluke Akinradewo and Alix Klineman leading the way with 12 kills apiece in the 25-18, 25-13, 25-16 rout.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: Arizona (13-9, 3-7 Pac-10) finished eighth in the Pac-10 last year and finds itself tied for seventh with Arizona State entering this weekend's action. Sophomore outside hitters Whitney Dosty and Tiffany Owens lead the team with 3.08 kps and 2.99 kps, respectively. Another sophomore, setter Paige Weber, chips in 10.37 assists per set (fifth in the conference) and is also among the toughest Pac-10 servers with 25 aces. As a team, Arizona leads the conference in blocking (2.67 bps) and is second in both serving (1.38 saps) and opponent hitting percentage (.173).

THE SERIES WITH THE WILDCATS: Stanford is 51-6 (.895) all-time against Arizona and has won 13 of the 16 meetings in the John Dunning era. Two of the Wildcat wins came in 2005, when Arizona won a pair of five-game battles with the Cardinal, held a top-10 ranking and eventually advanced to the NCAA Regional Final. Earlier this year, Stanford swept the Wildcats in Maples, 25-22, 25-18, 25-16, behind Cynthia Barboza's 12 kills.

STANFORD PROBABLE STARTERS

MB - #16 Foluke Akinradewo
Notables: Defending AVCA National Player of the Year ... a three-time All-American ... a four-year starter ... 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 (.444) ... 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, reaching her 1,500th kill last week ... posted the ninth best blocking performance in school history (12) and her second career double-double against Arizona State (10/12).

MB - #2 Janet Okogbaa
Notables: In her first season in the starting lineup ... was the No. 2 recruit nationally back in 2006 ... currently ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in hitting percentage (.365) ... matched a career-high with six blocks against Cal Poly on Sept. 20 ... pounded a career-high 12 kills to lead the team to victory over USC (10/24), marking her first career performance in double figures.

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 107 service aces ... become one of the school's career kill and dig leaders last weekend as well ... has reached double figures in 11 of the last 12 matches ... ranked among the Pac-10's top 10 in kills and points ... the seventh Stanford player since 1986 to record both 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs, nabbing her 1,000th dig on Oct. 3 at Washington State ... leads the team with nine double-doubles ... posted 20 kills and 22 digs against UCLA (10/26), marking a career high for digs and the first time in her career she has broken 20 in both categories in the same match ... 10/27 Pac-10 Player of the Week for her efforts in Los Angeles.

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) ... matched her season high with 21 kills against Cal (10/19) and posted her third double-double ... ranked among the Pac-10's top 10 in 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 ... posted the first double-double of her career with 21 assists and 10 digs against USC (10/24).

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) ... has hit double figures twice this year, against Texas (8/31) and UCLA (10/26).

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) ... has posted 17 digs in the team's two matches in Los Angeles ... recorded 19 digs against Washington State on Sunday, a career high for a three-set match.

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 seven double-doubles this year ... was named to the all-tournament team at two of Stanford's preseason tournaments, including the prestigious AVCA Showcase ... posted career highs with 53 assists (10/26) and 15 digs (10/24) two weeks ago in Los Angeles.

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