No. 5 Stanford Opens 2009 Season At Shamrock Invitational

Aug. 24, 2009

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UP NEXT: The No. 5 Cardinal women’s volleyball team opens the 2009 season on Friday, taking on LSU in the Notre Dame Invitational in Notre Dame, Ind. Stanford faces host Notre Dame on Saturday and concludes the three-day tournament against Denver on Sunday. First serve against the Tigers is set for 5 p.m. (ET) Friday night.

LOOKING AHEAD: Stanford remains on the road as it participates in the UOP Banker’s Classic in Stockton, Calif., Sept. 4-5. The Cardinal will take on Florida, ranked No. 8 in the AVCA preseason poll, Friday, Sept. 4 and will face either San Jose State or host Pacific on Sept. 5.

CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch the three matches on Live stats available via Gametracker at www.GoStanford.com. Stanford’s contest against Notre Dame will feature audio and video, and can be viewed at und.com.

ALL-AMERICAN FIREPOWER: Stanford returns two-time All-American Alix Klineman for the 2009 season. The junior outside hitter is one of the nation’s six returning first-team honorees, and one of only seven two-time All-Americans back for 2009. Klineman has led the team in kills in both of her first two seasons with the Cardinal. Stanford has won back-to-back championships and reached the national championship match during both of those years.

VETERAN LEADERSHIP: The 2009 Stanford squad will rely on its upperclassmen for leadership this year. The senior class of Joanna Evans, Alex Fisher and Janet Okogbaa holds an impressive 93-11 record through three seasons, earning three Pac-10 titles and three trips to the Final Four. Juniors Gabi Ailes, Alix Klineman and Cassidy Lichtman are all returning starters who have made significant contributions in their first two years on The Farm. Overall, the Cardinal boasts 10 players who have been to a national championship match, including six who have taken the team to the coveted match twice

CHASING 1,000: Alix Klineman is 86 kills away from 1,000 for her career. The junior should supass the milestone before the Pac-10 season even begins and is on pace to finish her career at Stanford in the top-5 in career kills.

DIGGING HER WAY TO THE TOP: Junior libero Gabi Ailes has already claimed the top spot in the Stanford record book for digs in a season (533) and digs per set (4.26) in a season. With 1,024 digs to date, Ailes will easily climb into the top-10 on the career list in 2009 and will make a run for the record of 1,597 set by Kristin Richards from 2003-06.

NATIONAL POLL: Stanford came in at No. 5 when the American Volleyball Coaches Association released its annual preseason poll earlier this month. The Cardinal began last season at No. 2 in the poll, and finished the year with a trip to the NCAA title match. Stanford has started the season among the top five teams in the nation seven of the last eight years. Defending national champion Penn State took the top spot in the poll, while Texas, Nebraska and Washington preceded the Cardinal in the poll. Six Pac-10 squads made the top-15.

PICKED THIRD: The Stanford women’s volleyball team was tabbed by the league’s coaches to finish third in the Pac-10. Stanford totaled 74 points in the preseason poll, six six below second-place California. Washington was the unanimous choice to win the conference. Once again, the Pac-10 sent six teams to the postseason in 2008. The conference has taken home five of the last eight NCAA titles. The coaches have correctly picked the Pac-10 champion in 13 of the previous 20 polls.

2008 IN REVIEW: In 2008, Stanford posted a 31-4 record and won an unprecedented 12th Pac-10 title. The team finished the year with a postseason run to its 14th NCAA title match, where it fell to Penn State in three sets. On the year, Stanford bested 16 ranked opponents, held a .314 average hitting percentage to just .164 by opponents and won 23 matches by 3-0 margins. Three players - Foluke Akinradewo, Cynthia Barboza, Alix Klineman - were named First Team All-Americans, tying a school record for first team representatives. Akinradewo was also tabbed Volleyball Magazine Co-National Player of the Year after shattering the NCAA’s career hitting percentage record by more than 20 points.

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. Stanford is scheduled to play 12 regular-season matches against teams ranked in the preseason poll, and 10 against teams that made the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Four teams that made the preseason top-10 come from the Pac-10 Conference.

HEAD COACH John Dunning: Beginning his ninth season at the helm of the Cardinal program, head coach John Dunning is one of the most accomplished coaches in the collegiate volleyball world. Dunning has four national championships under his belt, has taken his teams to nine Final Fours and carried six of his eight teams at Stanford to the national championship match.

MILESTONE FOR DUNNING: Head coach John Dunning is 24 wins away from reaching 700, and could reach that milestone in 2009. In 24 years as a head coach, Dunning is 676-139 (.829), giving him a winning percentage that ranks among the top five all-time for Division I coaches. Dunning is 239-37 in his eight seasons on The Farm and the all-time winningest coach in Pac-10 history by percentage (.866).

SCOUTING LSU: Under the guidance of Head Coach Fran Flory, LSU is coming off an 18-10 season and an NCAA Tournament appearance. The Tigers are a unanimous choice to win the SEC West this season. LSU returns five starters and its libero to this year’s squad. the Tigers’ top returnees include senior middle blockers Brittnee Cooper and Lauren DeGirolamo and sophomore outside hitter Michele Williams. The trio combined for 594 kills, 224 blocks and 757.5 total points in 2008.

THE SERIES WITH THE TIGERS: Stanford will face LSU for the first time this decade Friday. The Cardinal is 2-0 against the Tigers all-time with the most recent meeting coming in 1999 when Stanford defeated LSU, 3-1, in Baton Rouge. The only other meeting was at the Bankers’ Classic in Stockton, Calif., a 3-0 Cardinal win during the 1994 season.

SCOUTING NOTRE DAME: Notre Dame returns five starters, its libero and 12 letterwinners to its roster this season. Led by 18th year head coach Debbie Brown, the Fighting Irish turned in a 17-14 record last season, including a fifth-place finish in the Big East. Its top returnees include All-Big East senior outside hitters Christina Kaelin and Serinity Phillips and junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca, also an all-confernce selection. Kaelin also earned honorable mention All-America accolades last season after registering a team-high 392 points, including 3.25 kps and a .258 hitting percentage. Sciacca ranks second in school history with a .337 career hitting percentage after two seasons. The Fighting Irish have also added three nationally-regarded freshman to their team this season.

THE SERIES WITH THE FIGHTING IRISH: Stanford has won all six of its matches with Notre Dame, most recently a 3-0 sweep at home in 2003. The last meeting between the two squads in South Bend, Ind., took place in 1996. Overall, the teams have met five times during the regular season and once in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1998.

SCOUTING DENVER: Denver returns three starters plus its libero and 10 letterwinners to its roster this season for head coach Beth Kuwata. The Pioneers posted a 25-7 overall record in 2008, including a third-place finish in the Sun Belt Conference. It’s top-returning players include senior outside hitter Emmy Davidsmeyer, senior setter Clare Maxwell and junior libero Kacie Wikierak. Davidsmeyer hit .340 a year ago, averaging 2.89 kps and 2.02 dps. Maxwell led the team with 1,219 assists, while adding 143 kills.

THE SERIES WITH THE PIONEERS: Stanford’s match with Denver on Sunday will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

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