Stanford Opens 2009 NCAA Tournament At Home Versus Long Island

Dec. 3, 2009

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Friday, Dec. 4
Match #1 - 5 p.m. PT
UC Santa Barbara (22-7) vs. Saint Mary’s (22-4)
Maples Pavilion - Stanford, Calif.

Match #2 - 7 p.m. PT
Long Island (21-13) vs. No. 4 Stanford (21-7)
Maples Pavilion - Stanford, Calif.

Saturday, Dec. 5
Winner Match #1 vs. Winner Match #2
Maples Pavilion - Stanford, Calif. - 7 p.m.

TOURNET TIME!: The fourth-ranked Stanford women’s volleyball team begins its quest for a seventh national title this week, hosting the NCAA First and Second Rounds at Maples Pavilion. The tournament’s overall No. 4 seed, the Cardinal will meet Long Island in the opening round on Friday night.

LOOKING AHEAD: Should Stanford advance, the team will continue to enjoy the confines of Maples Pavilion as it will compete in the Stanford Regional, Dec. 11-12. The Final Four will be held Dec. 17-19 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla.

CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch the matches this weekend on KZSU radio (90.1 FM or online at kzsu.stanford.edu). Live stats and a FREE live webcast will be available via Gametracker at www.GoStanford.com.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: This year marks the Cardianl’s 29th-straight NCAA appearance. Stanford is one of only two schools to have appeared in every NCAA Tournament since the NCAA Championships began in 1981 (Penn State is the only other program to appear in all 29 events). Stanford has won more NCAA Championships (6), made more Final Four appearances (18), competed in more national championship matches (14) and won more NCAA Tournament matches (92) than any program in the nation.

PAC-10 HONORS: Four Stanford players picked up All-Pac-10 Conference accolades. Junior Alix Klineman was named to the All-Pac-10 team for the third staight season. She was joined on the team by junior Cassidy Lichtman, who was an honorable mention pick a year ago, and senior Janet Okogbaa. Junior Gabi Ailes received honorable mention this season.

FABULOUS FRESHMAN: The Pac-10 awards didn’t stop with the upperclassmen this season. Three Cardinal newcomers earned Pac-10 Freshman honors in 2009. The league’s coaches placed Kariss Cook and Jessica Walker on the All-Freshman team, while Hannah Benjamin received honorable mention accolades.

THAT MAKES FOUR!: Stanford earned its fourth conference championshiop in a row, the most by a Pac-10 school since the Cardinal won six straight from 1994-99 under Don Shaw. Other than that mark, only UCLA has been able to win three consecutive titles (1988-90). Stanford has now won 13 Pac-10 Championships, more than any school in the conference. The Cardinal has been either the league champion or runner-up in 23 of the 24 seasons since the conference was organized in 1986.

PAC-10 DOMINANCE: The Pac-10 tied a league-record set in 2002 this season when the 2009 NCAA bracket was revealed on Sunday, earning and unprecedented eight bids in the Tournament (the Big Ten and the Big 12 each had six teams). It’s the ninth consecutive year in which the Pac-10 has sent at least six teams into the NCAA Tournament and the 18th overall. Pac-10 teams posted an incredible 97-15 (.866) record versus other conferences this season.

CONTINUING THE TRADITION: During their four seasons on The Farm, Stanford’s senior class has helped maintain the Cardinal’s tradition as a women’s volleyball powerhouse. The trio has helped lead Stanford to 114 victories, four consecutive Pac-10 titles and three straight appearances in the national championship match. Combined, they have tallied nearly 700 kills and over 700 assists, 300 blocks and 250 digs. Of more than 300 Division I senior classes this year, the Cardinal group is the only one to advance to a national championship match three times.

EXPERIENCE ON THE HIGHEST STAGE: Stanford enters the NCAA Tournement with one of the most postseason-savvy teams in the nation. The Cardinal has been to the national title match the last three years, and Stanford’s seniors have played in 18 postseason contests already. The junior class is not far behind, competing in 12 postseason matches in their careers going into their third NCAA Tournament.

STANFORD VS. THE FIELD: The Cardinal has played 18 matches against the 2009 NCAA field, posting an 11-7 record. Of the seven losses, four came to Pac-10 opponents, while the other three occurred over the first three weekends of the season.

HOME SWEET HOME: Stanford has done a good job of defending its home court recently, posting a 10-1 record at Maples Pavilion this year. The Cardinal is 52-4 at home over the last four seasons turning Maples into one of the toughest venues in the country to earn a road win.

IN ATTENDANCE: The Cardinal is averaging 2,619 fans at its home matches this season, which is unofficially the 11th-best home average in the nation. Stanford’s Pac-10 finale versus rival California drew the largest crowd at Maples Pavilion this season with 5,125 fans in attendance. Additionally, its match at Hawai’i on Sept. 12 was seen by 7,801 fans, equaling the seventh-highest attendance at a Division I volleyball match this season.

FOR THE RECORD: Junior libero Gabi Ailes set a new Stanford single season digs record at Arizona State on Nov. 21. The Bellevue, Neb., native currently has 564 digs in 2009, breaking her record of 533 set in 2007. Ailes leads the Pac-10 with 5.32 digs per set, ranking 14th nationally. That mark is more than a dig per set higher than her school-best 4.26 average as a freshman. Against Pac-10 opponents she upped that mark to 5.90 digs per set.

TRIPLE THREAT: Junior Cassidy Lichtman has played several different positions for the Cardinal in her career. Currently, Lichtman is second on the team with 3.25 kills per set and is hitting .251. She is also second on the squad with 352 assists (3.32 aps) and 294 digs (2.77 dps). Lichtman more than doubled her career high in kills after registering 23 aginst LSU in the season opener. Against No. 5 Florida, Lichtman turned in her first career triple-double (16 kills, 17 assists, 11 digs) and versus San Jose State, the junior set a new career high, hitting .600 (10-1-15) against the Spartans.

IN THE ClUB: Alix Klineman posted her 1,000th-career kill in the opening set of the match against Saint Mary’s on Sept. 19. Klineman registered a season- and team-high 33 kills in the Pac-10 finale versus California last weekend. The junior now has 1,350 career kills. She is the 12th Cardianl player to reach 1,000 career kills. The All-American leads the team and is sixth in the Pac-10 with 4.23 kills per set. She is on pace to finish her career at Stanford in the top-5 in career kills.

CAREER LEADER: Junior libero Gabi Ailes has already claimed the top spot in the Stanford record book for digs in a season (564 and counting) and digs per set (4.26) in a season. With 1,588 digs to date, Ailes is currently second on the career list and will surpass the record of 1,597 set by Kristin Richards from 2003-06. She needs 10 digs to take over the top spot on the career list.

BLOCK PARTY: Senior Janet Okogbaa is second in the Pac-10 and ranks 38th nationally with 1.25 blocks per set. She registered a career high with eight blocks against Florida on Sept. 4. Junior Alix Klineman’s five solo blocks at UCLA are the most by a Pac-10 player this season. As a team, Stanford is 23rd in the country with 2.63 blocks per set, posting a season-high 15 blocks three times this season (vs. Washington, at Washington State and at Arizona).

CONTROLLING THE OFFENSE: Freshman setter Karissa Cook has embraced the starting setter role for the Cardinal. She leads the team with 9.01 assists per set in conference matches, ranking 10th in the Pac-10. She tallied a season-best 49 assists at Oregon State on Oct. 16 and has posted eight double-doubles for the Cardinal this season.

ALL-AMERICAN FIREPOWER: Stanford’s only returning All-American from last year is two-time honoree Alix Klineman. 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 in 2009. Klineman has led the team in kills in each of her seasons with the Cardinal. Stanford has three straight Pac-10 championships and reached the national championship match twice since she’s been a part of the team.

DIGGING MACHINE: Gabi Ailes broke her own school record for digs in a single match with 33 versus UCLA on Oct. 31. Entering the 2009 season, Ailes already held the school record (31 digs at USC on Oct. 27, 2007). She first broke that record at Oregon State on Oct. 16, 2009, tallying 32 digs against the Beavers before besting that mark against the Bruins two weeks later. She has totaled 20 or more digs 11 times this season and 30 or more three times, including 30 digs at USC in a three-set win.

BY THE NUMBERS: In Pac-10 matches, Stanford was the only team in the conference to finish in the top-5 in all seven statistical categories - hitting percentage, 3rd, .258; opponent hitting percentage, 4th, .213; assists, 3rd, 13.59; kills, 4th, 14.36; blocks, 4th, 2.67; service aces, 3rd, 1.16; digs, 3rd, 16.56.

IN THE CLASSROOM: Four Stanford players were named to the 2009 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII teams. Junior Alix Klineman was a first team selection, while senior Janet Okogbaa, junior Cassidy Lichtman and redshirt sophomore Stephanie Browne were all named to the second team. Klineman has also earned Second Team Academic All-America by CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine, becoming the program’s eighth Academic All-American. She was joined by Jill Collymore of Washington on the second team as the only two Academic All-Americans from the Pac-10 Conference this year.

NINE EARN PAC-10 ACADEMIC AWARDS: Led by first-team selection Joanna Evans, nine Cardinal women’s volleyball players were honored with Pac-10 academic awards this year. Along with Evans, senior Janet Okogbaa and juniors Gabi Ailes, Alix Klineman and Cassidy Lichtman were all selecteed for the secon time in their careers. Redshirt senior Alex Fisher, sophomores Stephanie Browne and Katherine Sebastian and redshirt freshman Jessica Walker were all recognized for the first time.

NATIONAL POLL: Stanford jumped to No. 4 this week in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, matching its highest ranking of the season. Last week, the Cardinal came-from-behind to defeat California, 3-2, and secure its fourth straight Pac-10 title. Defending national champion Penn State remains in the top spot in the poll, while Texas and Hawai’i are ranked ahead of the Cardinal. Iowa State rounds out the top-5.

SOCIAL NETWORKING: Stanford Volleyball has joined Facebook and Twitter! Become a fan on Facebook by searching for the “Stanford Women’s Volleyball” page. Follow the Cardinal at twitter.com/StanfordWVB to get updates on the team this season. Both sites will be updated live during matches this year.

PICKED THIRD: The Stanford women’s volleyball team was tabbed by the league’s coaches to finish third in the Pac-10, but proved them wrong this weekend at they captured the school’s 13th Pac-10 title. Stanford totaled 74 points in the preseason poll, six points below second-place California. Washington was the unanimous choice to win the conference. 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 21 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 lined up one of the most challenging schedules in the nation for the Cardinal. Stanford played 12 regular-season matches against teams ranked in the preseason poll, and 10 against teams that participated in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Four teams that made the preseason top-10 hail from the Pac-10 Conference.

HEAD COACH John Dunning: Now in 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 previous teams at Stanford to the national championship match.

MILESTONE FOR DUNNING: Head coach John Dunning is three victories away from 700 career-wins, and could reach that milestone in 2009. In 25 years as a head coach, Dunning is 697-146 (.827), giving him a winning percentage that ranks among the top five all-time for Division I coaches. Dunning is 260-44, now in his ninth season on The Farm, and the all-time winningest coach in Pac-10 history by percentage (.855).

SCOUTING LONG ISLAND: Long Island (21-13) went a perfect 16-0 in the Northeast Conference this season en route to its sixth straight league title. The Blackbirds wrapped up the NEC championship on Nov. 22 with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-21) victory over Sacred Heart. LIU has won a school-record 12 straight matches and 18 of its last 19. They are 1-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Blackbirds are led by NEC Player of the Year Svetlana Simic who averages 3.99 kills and 3.11 digs per set. Dunja Milin has controlled the offense for LIU, tallying 10.05 assists per set and has chipped in with 1.57 digs per set.

THE SERIES WITH THE BLACKBIRDS: Friday’s match with be the first meeting between Stanford and Long Island. It will also be the first time in program history that the Cardinal will face a team from the Northeast Conference.

SCOUTING SAINT MARY’S: Saint Mary’s (22-4) earned the West Coast Conference’s automatic bid to the tournament after claiming its first conference championship with a 13-1 record. It is the fifth NCAA postseason appearance for the Gaels. They are 2-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, earning both wins in 2004. Saint Mary’s is led by Lauren Corp’s 3.24 kills per set and 2.44 digs per set. Defensively, Alita Fisher is turning in 4.85 digs per set, while Shannon Lowell and Megan Burton are averaging 1.32 and 1.16 blocks per set, respectively.

COMMON GROUND: Besides facing one another, Stanford and Saint Mary’s have met two other common oppoenents this season - California and San Francisco. The Cardinal split its matches with Cal, while the Gaels dropped two four-set matches to the Golden Bears. Both teams took care of business against San Francisco. THE SERIES WITH THE GAELS: Stanford is 9-2 all-time versus Saint Mary’s. The Cardinal is 7-2 under head coach John Dunning, including 5-0 at Maples Pavilion. In the teams’ meeting earlier this season, the Cardinal took out the Gaels in four sets (25-13, 25-14, 12-25, 25-19) at Maples. Alix Klineman recorded her 1,000th career kill, while Cassidy Lichtman led the team with 17 kills, seven digs and four blocks.

SCOUTING UC SANTA BARBARA: The Gauchos (22-7) are making their 27th NCAA Tournament appearance, and their first since 2006. They finished in second place in the Big West Conference with an 11-5 record. UCSB is led by Big West Player of the Year Rebecca Sarceno, the fourth Gaucho in school history to receive the honor. The senior outside hitter led the conference with 4.49 kills per set. She was joined on the all-conference first team by junior setter Dana Vargas and sophomore opposite Stacey Schmidt. Vargas is averaging 11.00 assists per set and 1.98 digs per set, while Schmidt is turning in 2.37 kills per set and hitting .333 on the season.

COMMON GROUND: Oregon State is the only common oppoenent between UCSB and Stanford this season. The Gauchos fell to the Beavers, 3-1, in UNLV’s Alexis Park Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev., on Sept. 11. The Cardinal defeated the Beavers twice this season, 3-1 in Corvallis and 3-0 at Maples Pavilion.

THE SERIES WITH THE GAUCHOS: Stanford is 9-6 all-time versus UC Santa Barbara, and 3-0 under head coach John Dunning. The teams met last season in the Stanford Invitational at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal swept the Gauchos 25-13, 25-17, 25-21. Alix Klineman went 13-1-27 to hit .444 and lead the team with 16 points. As a team, Stanford hit .344, while holding UCSB to a .097 attack percentage. The last Gachos win came in the second round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament as Stanford fell at UCSB in five sets.

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