Cardinal Hosts Stanford Regional; Faces Michigan In Semi-Final Friday

Dec. 8, 2009

Friday, Dec. 11
Match #1 - 5 p.m. PT
12-seed Hawai’i (29-2) vs. 5-seed Illinois (26-5)
Maples Pavilion - Stanford, Calif.

Match #2 - 7 p.m. PT
13-seed Michigan (26-9) vs. 4-seed Stanford (23-7)
Maples Pavilion - Stanford, Calif.

Saturday, Dec. 12
Winner Match #1 vs. Winner Match #2
Maples Pavilion - Stanford, Calif. - 8:30 p.m. ESPNU

TOURNEY TIME: The fourth-ranked Stanford women’s volleyball team is making its fourth straight NCAA Regional appearance. The Cardinal hosts the Stanford Regional this weekend and will face 13th-seeded Michigan in the second semi-final match on Friday, Dec. 11.

LOOKING AHEAD: Should Stanford advance, the team will head to its fourth consecutive Final Four, 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. Saturday’s Regional Final will be televised live on ESPNU.

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 (94) 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 105-21 (.833) 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 116 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 20 postseason contests already. The junior class is not far behind, competing in 14 postseason matches in their careers.

STANFORD VS. THE FIELD: The Cardinal has played 18 matches against the 2009 NCAA field, posting an 13-7 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 12-1 record at Maples Pavilion this year. The Cardinal is 54-4 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 2,477 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 604 digs in 2009, breaking her record of 533 set in 2007. Ailes leads the Pac-10 with 5.30 digs per set, ranking 16th 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 3.19 kills per set and is hitting .248. She is also second on the squad with 376 assists (3.30 aps) and 317 digs (2.78 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 1,385 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 4.24 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 set a new career digs record at Stanford last weekend, posting 11 digs in the first round match versus Long Island before tallying 29 digs versus Saint Mary’s in the second round. She now has 1,628 career digs, passing the record of 1,597 set by Kristin Richards from 2003-06.

BLOCK PARTY: Senior Janet Okogbaa is second in the Pac-10 and ranks 32nd nationally with 1.26 blocks per set. She registered a career high with eight blocks against Florida on Sept. 4. and matched that mark against Long Island in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Junior Alix Klineman’s five solo blocks at UCLA are the most by a Pac-10 player this season. As a team, Stanford is 20th in the country with 2.66 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 nine 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 12 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 in the Nov. 30 American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, matching its highest ranking of the season. In its final regular season match, 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 one victory away from 700 career-wins, and could reach that milestone with a win over Michigan on Friday. In 25 years as a head coach, Dunning is 699-146 (.827), giving him a winning percentage that ranks among the top five all-time for Division I coaches. Dunning is 262-44, now in his ninth season on The Farm, and the all-time winningest coach in Pac-10 history by percentage (.855).

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