National Championship Notebook - 12/19/08

Dec. 19, 2008

Omaha, Neb. - Stanford Volleyball Notebook - 12/19/08

• Stanford will be competing in its third straight national title match, becoming just the third program ever to appear in three in a row. UCLA (1990-92) and Penn State (1997-99) are the only others to do so.

• Stanford is appearing in its 14th national title match, more than any program in the nation.

• Stanford and Penn State will be meeting for the national title for the second year in a row and the fourth time overall. The Cardinal won in five sets in 1997, while the Nittany Lions won in three in 1999 and five in 2007.

• Stanford is last team to have beaten Penn State. The Cardinal topped the Nittany Lions in New Haven, Conn. On Sept. 15, 2007 in five sets (30-23, 23-30, 27-30, 30-28, 15-9). Prior to last night, Stanford was also the last team to have taken a set from the Nittany Lions, having taken two in last year's national title match.

• Stanford's Gabi Ailes became the 11th Stanford player since 1986 to reach 1,000 career digs last night. Just a sophomore, Ailes ranks third on Stanford's single-season dig chart this year. Her 475 digs are second only to the school-record 533 she posted last year and the 502 recorded by Kristin Richards in 2004.

• Stanford's Foluke Akinradewo is on track to finish her career tomorrow night with the best career hitting percentage ever recorded by an NCAA Division I player. Akinradewo is hitting .447 for her career, 24 points above the existing NCAA record held by Virag Domokos of George Mason (.423). Penn State senior Christa Harmotto, who enters tomorrow night's match with a .434 career hitting percentage, will also likely break that record.

• Head Coach John Dunning has led six of the eight teams he has coached at Stanford to NCAA title matches. Tomorrow, Dunning will coach in his ninth career national championship match, more than any coach in NCAA history.

• On Aug. 26, 2005, Stanford's then-freshman class played its very first collegiate match right here at the Qwest Center against none other than Penn State. In the match, Stanford was led by freshmen Cynthia Barboza (22 kills) and Foluke Akinradewo (16 kills), while Penn State was led by newcomers Nicole Fawcett (17 kills) and Christa Harmotto (14 kills). Stanford won a five-game thriller back then, and in four years, the teams have played all three meetings to five. Tomorrow, seniors from both squads will end their careers on the same floor, against the very same team.

• Stanford is 5-5 all-time against Penn State. In last year's NCAA title match, Stanford staged a dramatic comeback to climb out of a 0-2 hole and force a fifth set, but Penn State prevailed to win its second NCAA title.

• More talented players will take the court tomorrow than in any other collegiate match this season. The NCAA championship will feature nine All-Americans, including half of this year's AVCA All-America First Team.

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