No. 2 Stanford Closes Out Pac-10 Season In Oregon
Nov. 24, 2008
UP NEXT: The second-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team closes out the regular season this week, looking to take the Pac-10 title outright and build more momentum heading into the NCAA Championship. The Cardinal square offs with No. 8 Oregon in a rare Wednesday meeting, then meets Oregon State in the regular-season finale on Friday night. Both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: The 64-team field for the 2008 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship will be announced on Sunday at 7 p.m. (PT) on ESPNU. Stanford has already secured the Pac-10's automatic berth and will head to the tournament for the 28th consecutive year. Stanford and Penn State, which wrapped up the Big Ten title last weekend, are the only two programs to appear in all 28 NCAA Championships.
LOOKING BACK: Stanford picked up two big wins last week, taking down No. 10 USC and No. 9 UCLA on its home court. Foluke Akinradewo led Stanford with 19 kills in a 25-10, 22-25, 25-21, 25-18 victory over the Trojans on Friday night, while a trio of sophomores posted their best performances of the year on Saturday to help Stanford outlast a fiesty Bruin squad, 25-15, 20-25, 25-15, 24-26, 15-11. Stanford's Saturday win sealed at least a share of the Pac-10 crown.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch both matches this weekend live on KZSU radio (90.1 FM or online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/). Live stats for the matches will be available at www.GoDucks.com and www.OSUBeavers.com, respectively.
PAC-10 THREE-PEAT!: Stanford clinched a Pac-10 three-peat this weekend with its win over UCLA, establishing 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 titles (three between 1988 and 1990). Stanford has now won 12 Pac-10 titles, more than any school in the conference. The Cardinal has been either the conference champion or runner-up in 22 of the 23 seasons since the conference was organized in 1986.
LEADER OF THE PAC: Stanford (15-1) has wrapped up at least a share of the 2008 Pac-10 title and can take it outright with one more win this weekend. Washington (13-3) is the only team still able to catch Stanford, but no one has ever won the conference with more than two losses. Seven Pac-10 teams are currently over .500 and eight still have a chance to finish with a winning record. Every Pac-10 team that has finished over .500 since 1996 has made the NCAA Tournament.
SWEET FINALE: Last Saturday, four Stanford seniors - Foluke Akinradewo, Cynthia Barboza, Jessica Fishburn and Erin Waller - played their last regular-season match on the Maples Pavilion floor. In front of more than 3,600 fans, the four seniors helped clinch their third conference title in a row with an exciting win over UCLA. Fishburn racked up a season-high 12 digs, while Barboza turned in a double-double with 14 kills and a career-high 22 digs. Akinradewo turned in nine blocks, her second-best total of the year, and Waller led the team with a .421 hitting percentage.
CONTINUING THE TRADITION: During their four seasons on The Farm, Stanford's senior class has been instrumental in maintaining the Cardinal's tradition as a women's volleyball powerhouse. The foursome has helped lead the Cardinal to 112 victories, three consecutive Pac-10 titles and two straight appearances in the national championship match. Combined, they have tallied over 3,700 kills, 2,500 digs and 900 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.
KILLER KLINEMAN: Sophomore outside hitter Alix Klineman was phenomenal over the weekend, slamming 45 kills in nine sets (5.00 kps) while racking up 29 digs, posting two double-doubles and hitting .333. After turning in 17 kills against the Trojans last Friday, Klineman was unstoppable when Stanford needed her against the Bruins. The All-American sophomore pummeled the Bruins with a career-high 28 kills, provided five critical slams in Stanford's fifth-set comeback and registered a season-high five blocks. Klineman has reached double figures in 19 matches this season, with 13 of those coming in Pac-10 play.
DIGGING DEEP: Stanford libero Gabi Ailes recorded perhaps the best weekend of her career against the Los Angeles schools. On Friday, Ailes turned in 24 digs in four sets against USC, matching her highest total of the season. On Saturday, she came back with an even better show, recording the eighth-best defensive performance in school history with 28 digs, including 14 in the final two sets. Ailes was also the server when Stanford began its set-five comeback against the Bruins, and provided four digs in the 10-2 closing run that sealed the Stanford win. Ailes has recorded at least 10 digs in eight of the last nine contests.
BACK ROW RECORDS: Sophomore Gabi Ailes 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 4.11 dps, and is carrying a career average (4.20) better than any player in program history. She needs just 12 more digs to climb onto the school's single-season top 10 chart again and 93 more reach 1,000.
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 eight double-doubles and set new personal bests in every statistical category. As the exclusive setter in the last four matches, she has averaged 12.80 aps, a figure that is better than the average of any player in the Pac-10. Last Saturday, Lichtman recorded a career-high 67 assists.
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 .445 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 TOUGH ROAD: Stanford boasts a solid 24-3 record, but the feat is even more impressive considering the road the Cardinal took to get there. Stanford has already played six of its fellow nine top-10 teams, and leads the nation with seven wins over the current top-10. Outside of the Pac-10, Penn State and Nebraska are the only squads with more than one win over a top-10 team (each have two). 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 of the top 11 teams in the nation hail from the Pac-10 Conference.
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 16 of the last 17 matches, including the last 10 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 10 of the last 11.
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 (541). The senior leads the Pac-10 in blocking and is among the top three 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 three-time Olympian and two-time beach gold medalist Kerri Walsh on the school's career chart on Nov. 14 against Cal. Teammate Cynthia Barboza is likely to do the same this weekend, needing just 14 kills to match Walsh's career figure.
ON THE BOARD: Cynthia Barboza jumped onto two exclusive career lists against Washington on 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 111 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 on its way to matching that impressive feat. With two regular-season matches to play, the Cardinal has swept 18 opponents, including 15 of its last 21. The team opened the conference season with six consecutive sweeps for the first time in school history this year. Stanford currently has 11 sweeps in Pac-10 play and could match its highest total since 2000 (13 in 2006) with two sweeps this weekend.
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 .456 clip, while fellow middle blocker Janet Okogbaa is fifth in the conference at .373. As a team, Stanford leads the Pac-10 with a .315 clip, stands third nationally and is one of only four programs hitting above .300 for the year (Washington, Penn State and Texas are the others). The Cardinal's 2008 hitting percentage is currently the second best in school history, just below 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 24-3 record, but by the list of opponents' hitting percentages. Of Stanford's 27 opponents, 18 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 19 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 16 of its 21 matches, and held 16 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 three 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.
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 boasts an arsenal of All-American hitters this season - 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. This year, the threesome is contributing 10.13 kps 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. Between the 11 veterans, the 2008 Cardinal boasts 12 prior years in the starting lineup and more than 4,500 kills. The veterans have already contributed to 112 Cardinal wins, three 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 25, with five making the top 10.
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.
SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks are looking to finish out a strong conference season and earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The team, which made its first NCAA Regional last year, is ranked eighth nationally and stands fourth in the Pac-10 with a 22-7 overall mark and a 10-6 conference record. Oregon is led by All-American outside hitter Gorana Maricic, a senior who ranks fourth in the Pac-10 with 4.17 kps. Sonja Newcombe (2.94 kps), Heather Meyers (2.54 kps) and Neticia Enesi (2.50 kps, 1.21 bps) are also factors for the Ducks. Veteran libero Katie Swoboda leads the league in digs (5.06 dps). Oregon is the Pac-10's best serving team, and led by junior Amanda Westrick, has racked up 138 aces this year.
THE SERIES WITH THE DUCKS: Stanford has had much success against the Ducks, and carries a 45-2 (.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. In the most recent meeting on Sept. 27, Stanford swept the Ducks 25-21, 25-22, 25-20 behind Alix Klineman's 15 kills.
SCOUTING OREGON STATE: The Beavers enter the final weekend of Pac-10 play in ninth place, needing two wins to finish over .500 for the year. Australian outside hitter Rachel Rourke is the driving force of the Beaver offense, ranking second in the Pac-10 with 4.42 kps and 4.87 pps. Sophomore Jill Sawatzky shores up the offense behind Rourke, turning in 3.09 kps. Junior Camilla Ah-Hoy has taken on full-time setting duties for the Beavers this year, and has been turning in 10.24 aps.
THE SERIES WITH THE BEAVERS: Stanford has never lost to Oregon State, and is riding a 47-match win streak in contests involving the two. Earlier this year, Stanford swept Oregon State for the eighth time in row, 25-16, 25-16, 25-23. Senior Cynthia Barboza ripped 15 kills in that match.
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 (.445) ... ranked fourth nationally in hitting percentage, and also stands among the nation's top three 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 five of the last seven matches and reached double-figure kills in 10 of the last 11.
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 (.373) ... 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 16 of the last 17 matches (and 10 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 13 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 (11/17) ... recorded her 1,500th career kill in Arizona (11/8) ... matched a career high with 22 digs against UCLA last week (11/22).
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 ... posted a career-best 28 kills against UCLA last Saturday and added a season-high 18 digs ... also tallied a season-high five blocks in the match.
S - #8 Cassidy Lichtman
Notables: Has transitioned into a new setter role this year after primarily being a DS last season ... already has eight 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 a career-high 15 digs at USC (10/24) ... has averaged more than 12 aps as a primary setter the last four matches, and turned in a career-high 67 assists against UCLA last Saturday.
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).
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 four times this year, against Texas (22), Saint Louis (24), USC (24) and UCLA (28) ... recorded 19 digs against Washington State (11/2) a career high for a three-set match ... recorded a season-high 28 digs against UCLA last Saturday, one of the top-10 single-match performances in school history ... has hit double figures in eight of the last nine matches and 20 times overall.