No. 2 Stanford Battles USC, UCLA To Secure Pac-10 Three-Peat

Nov. 17, 2008

UP NEXT: The Stanford women's volleyball team returns to Maples this week, aiming to clinch at least a share of its third consecutive Pac-10 title in front of its home crowd. It won't be easy, however, as Stanford must first get by two top-10 teams, No.10 USC and No. 9 UCLA, who both head to The Farm looking to avenge late October losses. Stanford and USC square off at 7 p.m. Friday night, while the Cardinal meets the Bruins on Saturday's Senior Night (also at 7 p.m.).

LOOKING AHEAD: The Cardinal will spend Thanksgiving in Oregon, wrapping up the Pac-10 season against Oregon and Oregon State. Stanford will take on the No. 8 Ducks on Wednesday, Nov. 26 in Eugene, then will finish the regular season against the Beavers on Friday, Nov. 28 in Corvallis.

LOOKING BACK: Stanford won back its Bay Area bragging rights last week, decisively avenging its only 2008 conference loss. After dropping a four-set match to California at Maples on Oct. 19, Stanford swept its rival in Berkeley, 25-23, 25-16, 25-20.

CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch both matches this weekend live on KZSU radio (90.1 FM or online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/). A FREE live webcast will also be provided via Stanford's All-Access player at www.Go Stanford.com. Live stats will be available on Gametracker.

SENIOR FAREWELL: Saturday's contest will mark the last regular-season match on the Maples Pavilion floor for four Stanford seniors - Foluke Akinradewo, Cynthia Barboza, Jessica Fishburn and Erin Waller. During their four seasons on The Farm, the foursome has helped lead the Cardinal to 110 victories, back-to-back Pac-10 titles and two straight appearances in the national championship match. Combined, they have tallied over 3,600 kills, 2,400 digs and 800 blocks. Of the more than 300 Division I senior classes this year, the group is one of four that has been to a national championship match and one of two that has been there twice.

AT MAPLES THIS WEEK: Fans are encouraged to participate in the Cardinal's Holiday Food & Fund Drive this weekend. Stanford will be offering $2 general admission to each match with a donation of canned goods.

CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch both matches this weekend live on KZSU radio (90.1 FM or online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/). A FREE live webcast will also be provided via Stanford's All-Access player at www.Go Stanford.com. Live stats will be available on Gametracker.

BARBOZA NABS SECOND PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARD: Senior Cynthia Barboza earned her second Pac-10 Player of the Week honor of the year for her efforts in the team's win at No. 7 California last week. The Cardinal outside hitter picked up 13 kills (4.33 kps) and 18 digs (6.00 dps) in the three-set victory over the Golden Bears. She was on fire from the beginning, and gave Stanford early momentum with seven kills in the opening set. The Long Beach, Calif. native finished with her 11th double-double of the year, and led all players in both kills and digs. She hit .419 in the match (sixth time this year over .400) and tallied a season-high four blocks, including three solos.

THE ELUSIVE THREE-PEAT: Stanford could clinch a Pac-10 three-peat this weekend, the most dominant title streak in nearly a decade. The Cardinal won six conference championships in a row between 1994 and 1999, but other than that run, only UCLA has been able to win three straight Pac-10 Championships (three between 1988 and 1990). Stanford has won 11 Pac-10 titles already, more than any school in the conference.

LEADER OF THE PAC: After another weekend of conference play, Stanford (13-1) continues to hold a two-match lead in the race for the 2008 Pac-10 title. With sole possession of first place, the Cardinal is the only team in the conference that controls its own fate. The team must win two of its final four matches to secure a share of the crown and three of its last four to win it outright. Washington (12-3) is on the Cardinal's heels, but no team has ever won the conference with more than two losses. California (10-4) and Oregon (9-5) are still mathematically in the hunt as well. Eight Pac-10 teams are currently over .500 and every conference team but Washington State still has a chance to finish with a winning record. Every Pac-10 team that has finished over .500 since 1996 has made the NCAA Tournament.

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. Now in the final stretch of her last collegiate season, Akinradewo is hitting .447 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.

THE 1,500 TWINS: Stanford seniors Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo have both nabbed their 1,500th career kills this season, the only two active players in the Pac-10 to have reached the milestone. Only eight players in Stanford history and 35 players in Pac-10 history had accomplished the feat prior to this season. Akinradewo picked up her 1,500th against Washington on Oct. 31 and Barboza earned hers at Arizona on Nov. 8.

DOUBLE-FIGURE FIGURES: Senior Cynthia Barboza has been on a hot streak recently, posting double-figure kills in 14 of the last 15 matches, including the last eight in a row. Fellow senior Foluke Akinradewo has also stepped up her production over the last few weeks. After hitting double digits just four times in the first 16 matches, she has had at least 10 kills in eight of the last nine.

MILESTONES AT THE NET: Senior Foluke Akinradewo is having the best blocking year of her career (1.48 bps) and currently stands third on the Cardinal career list (527). The senior leads the Pac-10 in blocking and is among the top 10 nationally in the category. The conference's active career block leader as well, she recorded one of the best single-match blocking performances in school history against Arizona State (12) on Oct. 12.

PASSING THE GREATS: Foluke Akinradewo, who is currently the Pac-10's active career kill leader, passed yet another Stanford great this weekend on the school's all-time kill chart. Akinradewo has now posted more kills in her four-year career than three-time Olympian and two-time beach gold medalist Kerri Walsh (1,556).

ON THE BOARD: Cynthia Barboza jumped onto two exclusive career lists against Washington Oct. 31, 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 four regular-season matches to play, the Cardinal has swept 18 opponents, including 15 of its last 19. The team opened the conference season with six consecutive sweeps for the first time in school history this year.

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 third in the nation with a .474 clip, while fellow middle blocker Janet Okogbaa is fifth in the conference at .383. 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 (Hawai'i, 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 22-3 record, but by the list of opponents' hitting percentages. Of Stanford's 25 opponents, 16 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 18 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 15 of its 19 matches, and held 14 opponents below .200 hitting.

GOOD STUFF ON AND OFF THE COURT: Senior Cynthia Barboza was one of three Pac-10 players selected as a member of the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team two weeks ago. The two-time AVCA All-American is a political science major at Stanford. Last season, she was also a first-team all-district pick and went on to become Stanford's first Academic All-American since Ogonna Nnamani was honored in 2004. She was one of two Academic All-Americans from the Pac-10 last year and the only Pac-10 player to be both an Academic All-American and an AVCA All-American. She is now in contention to join two-time honoree Kristin Folkl and three-time honoree Nnamani as the only Cardinal players to earn multiple Academic All-America awards.

DIGGING DEEP: Stanford libero Gabi Ailes recorded double-digit digs against Cal again last weekend, and has now hit the 10-dig plateau in six of the last seven contests. The Bellevue, Neb. native set a new school single-season dig record last year (533), and was also the first player in school history to turn in more than four digs per game (4.26). This year, even with the new scoring format, Ailes is turning in impressive dig numbers. The sophomore is averaging 3.93 dps, and is carrying a career average (4.13) better than any player in program history.

CATCHING ON QUICKLY: Sophomore Cassidy Lichtman has wasted no time transitioning into her new role as a setter. Primarily a defensive specialist and opposite hitter last year, Lichtman trained in the offseason to take on setting duties. So far, Lichtman has been named to the all-tournament team at two preseason tournaments (including the prestigious AVCA Showcase), recorded seven double-doubles and set new personal bests in every statistical category. As the exclusive setter in the last two matches, she has averaged 12.83 aps, a figure that is better than the average of any player in the Pac-10.

QUEEN OF THE COURT: Stanford's Foluke Akinradewo continues 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 from last year 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 remains at No. 2 this week in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, the same slot it held preseason. 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 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. Six teams in the top-10 hail from the Pac-10 Conference. Stanford has already played seven of its fellow nine top-10 teams, and leads the nation with seven wins over current top-10 teams (Washington also has seven).

SCOUTING USC: Coming off an appearance in the 2007 NCAA Final Four, the Trojans currently stand fifth in the Pac-10 with a 16-8 record and a 9-6 mark in conference play. After a rough conference start, the team has won six of its last seven and pulled upsets of then-No. 4 California and then-No. 7 Oregon. Freshman Alex Jupiter has taken the lead offensively for USC, averaging 3.37 kps (8th in the Pac-10) and 3.92 points per set (9th). Redshirt junior Jessica Gysin has also been key for the Trojans (3.22 kps, 2.32 dps). Setter Taylor Carico, the only returning All-American on the team, averages 10.50 aps.

THE SERIES WITH THE TROJANS: Stanford is 50-18 (.735) all-time against the Trojans, but is 9-11 since 2000 and has only swept USC once (in 2005). Earlier this year, in a rematch of the 2007 national semifinal, Stanford bested USC, 25-14, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21.

SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins were eliminated by the Cardinal in the NCAA Regional final last season, and return one of the best setters in the country in senior first-team All-American Nellie Spicer (11.09 aps). They currently stand sixth in the Pac-10 with a 18-8 record and an 8-7 mark in conference play. Senior libero Jessica Fine (4.70 dps) has helped UCLA rise to the top of the Pac-10 in digs, and freshman middle blocker Amanda Gil (1.41 bps) has helped give UCLA the second highest block average in the conference and maintain the second lowest opponent hitting percentage. Offensively, sophomore outside hitter Dicey McGraw leads the team with 3.03 kps.

THE SERIES WITH THE BRUINS: Stanford is 38-31 (.551) all-time against UCLA, and has won all 16 meetings in John Dunning's tenure. In the most recent meeting on Oct. 26, Stanford won in four sets, 22-25, 25-14, 25-22, 25-23.

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 ... two-time Pac-10 Player of the Week in 2008 ... hit a career-high .923 vs. No. 19 Illinois (9/6) ... on pace to break the NCAA career hitting percentage record (.447) ... ranked third 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 (10/12) ... has hit over .600 in four of the last five matches and reached double-figure kills in eight of the last nine.

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 (.383) ... has had a career-high six blocks twice this season ... matched a career high with a .583 hitting percentage against Arizona (11/8) ... 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 career leaders in service aces, kills and digs ... has reached double figures in 14 of the last 15 matches (and eight in a row) ... 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 11 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 ... also the 11/17 Pac-10 Player of the Week for her efforts against Cal last Friday ... recorded her 1,500th career kill in Arizona (11/8).

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 the victory over Texas (8/31) ... 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 - #8 Cassidy Lichtman
Notables: Has transitioned into a new setter 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 ... recorded a career high 10 kills and hit a career high .533 against Texas (8/31), coming within one dig of a triple-double in the match ... posted career highs with 53 assists (10/26) and 15 digs (10/24) on the road trip to Los Angeles ... has averaged more than 12 aps over the last three matches.

OPP - #12 Erin Waller
Notables: 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).--OR--
OPP - #5 Alex Fisher
Notables: Has been seeing significant time at opposite this year, including seven starts ... best performance of the year was five kills against Saint Mary's on Sept. 19.

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) ... posted 17 digs in the team's two matches in Los Angeles ... recorded 19 digs against Washington State earlier this month, a career high for a three-set match ... has hit double figures in six of the last seven matches and 18 times overall.

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