Stanford Rolls Over Florida To Advance To Regional Title Match
Dec. 12, 2008
Fort Collins, Colo. - Behind another dominant performance by senior middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo, the second-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team blew past No. 11 Florida tonight in the Fort Collins Regional Semifinal.
Stanford improves to 29-3 on the year and advances to tomorrow night's regional final to face seventh-seeded Hawai'i. Florida, the 2008 SEC Champion, closes its season with a 27-4 mark.
Akinradewo picked up steam late in the match, drilling seven of her 13 kills in the clinching third set. The native Floridian hit .684 for the match, unloading 13 kills on just 19 swings without committing a single error. The senior also added a team-high five blocks and a pair of service aces.
Sophomore Alix Klineman chipped in 10 kills, and provided the initial fire that allowed Stanford to set the pace from the get-go. The Cardinal outside hitter finished with 10 kills and 10 digs to mark her 11th double-double of the season.
The Gators were led by sophomore opposite Lauren Bledsoe, who tallied eight kills and three blocks on the night.
Stanford charged out of the gates, as Klineman ignited the offense with five kills in the first 14 points of the match. Two kills by the sophomore started things off, and she added three more in the 8-1 Stanford run that followed. At 11-4, Florida managed one kill before Stanford was off to the races again. Cynthia Barboza served an ace that was followed by three straight Gator errors, blowing the set open at 16-5. Stanford kept pushing and took its largest lead when Cassidy Lichtman pounded an overpass at 21-8. Armed with a significant lead, Stanford was then content to trade points to the finish. The Cardinal took set point at 24-12 when the Gators couldn't recover an overpass by Gabi Ailes, and Okogbaa popped down the winner, 25-14. The Cardinal hit .406 in the opening set compared to a .179 clip by Florida, and had 17 kills to Florida's eight. Klineman led all players with six kills.
Klineman once again picked up the first two kills in set two, and Stanford found itself with another early lead, 5-2. Florida dashed back, however, using four consecutive points to nab its first lead of the match at 6-5 and later what proved to be its largest lead all night, 12-9. A trio of Stanford kills off swings by Okogbaa, Klineman and Akinradewo finally allowed Stanford to come back and tie at 14 and a Klineman kill at 16-15 gave Stanford back the lead for good. A Cardinal block made it 17-15 on the next play, but Florida was back to tie at 19. The Cardinal held onto the better half of an exchange, and a Gator attack sailed deep to finally put the Cardinal up two again, 23-21. After a Florida timeout, Klineman and Akinradewo paired for a critical block, giving Stanford set point at 24-21. Senior Erin Waller drilled a ball down the line to finish, 25-21. Stanford hit .385 to the Gators' .059 in the second set.
Stanford looked to make its move with a 6-1 run early in the third set, but saw its 9-5 lead slip away when the Gators answered with a 6-1 run of their own. After Florida went up 11-10, three more quick lead changes followed, but Stanford secured the lead back for good at 15-14. Okogbaa made two plays at the net to lead a string to three Cardinal points in a row, and finally gave the team a small cushion at 18-15. The Gators were able to slice it to one on five occasions, but the Cardinal never faltered. At 22-21, Akinradewo and Lichtman paired for a block and a Gator attack sailed wide for match point. Akinradewo finished things on the very next play with her 13th kill of the night. Stanford outhit Florida .243 to .135 in the third and final set and was led by Akinradewo's seven kills.
The Cardinal returns to the court in Fort Collins, Colo. tomorrow night, taking on seventh-seeded Hawai'i at 7 p.m. (MT) for trip to the 2008 Final Four in Omaha, Neb.
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