Stanford Claims Sixth National Title With Sweep Of Minnesota

Dec. 18, 2004

LONG BEACH, CA- Stanford (30-6), behind 29 kills fromsenior Ogonna Nnamani, won its sixth NCAA Division-IWomen's Volleyball Championship with a 30-23, 30-2730-21 victory over Minnesota (33-5) in front of acrowd of 8,826 fans at the Long Beach Arena on Dec.18.

Stanford entered the match as the 11th seed in thetournament, while Minnesota was the fourth seed.

Stanford used a 5-0 run to break a 13-all tie to takegame one 30-23, despite trailing 6-3 in the earlygoing. The Cardinal, behind three points by Nnamani,scored the final five points of game two to win 30-27.Stanford scored 12 of the last 15 points of the thirdgame to wrap up the title with a 30-21 victory.

Stanford concluded the season on a 15-match winstreak, something the Cardinal has not accomplishedsince the 2001 season. Stanford dropped only threegames in its last 10 matches (total of 33 games).

Nnamani, the tournament's most outstanding player, hit.562 for the match on 48 swings to pace the Cardinaloffense. Setter Bryn Kehoe handed out 48 assists asStanford hit .436 as a team for the match. JenniferHucke produced nine kills with a .368 attackpercentage, while Kristin Richards contributed eightkills and 11 digs. Franci Girard hit .556 with fivekills, while Liz Suiter totaled six kills on a .417attack percentage with a team-high five blocks.Courtney Shultz dug a team-high 14 balls for Stanford.

Erin Martin and Trisha Bratford each charted 13 killsfor Minnesota in the loss. Kelly Bowman and MeredithNelson were credited with nine kills in the match,including 19 assists from Bowman. Lindsey Taatjesknocked down five kills to go with five blocks andfive digs. Jessy Jones produced six kills for theGophers, while Paula Gentil had a team-high 15 digs.

Ogonna Nnamani set an NCAA Tournament record with 145kills in all 2004 NCAA tournament matches over 21games. Wisconsin's Sherisa Livingston holds the recordwith 139 tournament kills in 139. Nnamani also tiedthe NCAA Tournament record with 15 block solos, and isshared by by Pacific's Jayne Gibson in 1981.

Named to the NCAA All-Tournament team were Nnamani,Hucke, Richards, Kehoe, Martin and Gentil.

Minnesota pulled out to a 6-3 game one advantagecapped by a service aces from Marci Peniata. However,Stanford managed a 5-0 run including kills fromNnamani, Richards and Hucke to give the Cardinal an8-6 lead. The Gophers tied the game back up at 10 asBowman recorded a kill followed by a combined blockfrom Taatjes and Byrnes. Stanford regained a two-pointadvantage at 15-13 as Nnamani provided a kill followedby a Bowman hitting error. Following the mediatimeout, the Cardinal rattled off three more points tostretch the run to five straight scores as Richardstallied a kill and block assist prompting the Gophersto call their first time out at 18-13. Stanfordextended the lead to six points at 24-18 as Suitercombined with Kehoe for a block and followed with akill through the middle. The Cardinal closed out gameone at 30-23 as Franci Girard picked up a kill andblock. Nnamani totaled eight kills with a .571 attackpercentage to lead the Cardinal in game one. Stanfordhit .395 as a team with five team blocks and held theGophers to a .133 mark. Jones and Martin each chartedfour kills in the first game for Minnesota.

Minnesota recovered from an early 0-3 deficit in gametwo as the Gophers scored six of the next sevenpoints. Stanford tied the game back up at seven asRichards and Hucke recorded back-to-back kills. TheCardinal earned a two-point lead at 13-11 after Suiterknocked down a kill. Bowman and Bratford scoredsuccessive kills to lead the Gophers back into a tieat 15-15 following the media timeout. Nnamani followeda Bowman service error with a kill to give theCardinal an 18-16 lead. Minnesota pulled into a tie at20-all as a Hucke attack went into the net. TheGophers gained the advantage at 23-21 with kills byMartin and Bowman sandwiched around a Cardinal attackerror by Suiter. Stanford knotted the game at 27-27after a kill by Nnamani and a Gopher attack that justmissed line in the corner. Hucke ended a long rallywith a kill on the right side to give the Cardinal a28-27 lead. Nnamani followed with a block solo toprovide the Cardinal with its first game point of gametwo at 29-27, and promptly ended it with a kill for a30-27 victory. Nnamani scored 12 kills in the secondgame alone on 19 attacks, while the Cardinal hit .486as a team. Bratford was credited with six kills in thesecond game for the Gophers.

The Gophers came out of the intermission break to takea 7-4 lead as Bowman hit a kill off the right sidefollowed by a Richards attack error. After Richardshammered a kill, Minnesota suffered a blow on the backrow as Gentil went down with an injury on a play thatBratford was credited with a kill off a touch at 8-5.Down 9-6, Stanford tied the game with three straightkills by Nnamani. The Cardinal took a 12-10 lead on aGopher back-row attack error and Martin hitting error.Minnesota stormed back into the game with successivekills by Bratford for a 13-all score. Nnamani tipped ashot over the defense, which was followed by Kehoe aceand two more Nnamani kills to lift the Cardinal to a22-18 lead. Minnesota stopped the four-point run witha Martin kill, only to see Stanford roll off five moreunanswered points for a 27-19 lead. Stanford closedout the game at 30-21 on a Nnamani's 29th kill of thematch.

Ogonna Nnamani, Senior Outside Hitter, Stanford

Bryn Kehoe, Freshman Setter, Stanford
Kristin Richards, Sophomore Outside Hitter, Stanford
Jennifer Hucke, Senior Outside Hitter/Opposite,Stanford
Erin Martin, Senior Outside Hitter, Minnesota
Paula Gentil, Junior Libero, Minnesota

Minnesota started the season ranked fifth in the USAToday/CSTV Top 25 Coaches Preseason Poll with onefirst-place vote, while Stanford was placed at sixthin the preseason with two first-place votes. Minnesotais the only team to remain in the top five in the pollall season.

Stanford was playing its 11th championship match,while Minnesota reached the championship match for thefirst time. Minnesota held the top spot for threeweeks this season and became the 14th school to holdthe number-one position.

Stanford senior Ogonna Nnamani not only was named AVCADivision I Co-National Player of the Year on Dec. 17,she was also selected as ESPN The Magazine AcademicAll-American of the Year by CoSIDA earlier inDecember.

Minnesota, which had never reached the nationalsemifinal round until last year, has returned to thesemifinals for the second straight year. Stanford ismaking its first appearance in the title match since2002 when the Cardinal lost to Southern California.

Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert has led two differentteams to the NCAA Division I Women's VolleyballChampionship semifinal round. In addition to leadingboth the 2003 and 2004 Gophers into the semifinalround, he Illinois to the same round in 1987 and 1988.Only three other coaches have achieved the feat twodifferent schools.

Minnesota junior libero Paula Gentil set the NCAAsingle-season dig record last week at the regionalsemifinal and final. She now has 924 on the season andis the first Division I player to reach 900 digs insingle year. She is the first libero to earn AVCAAll-America First-Team with her inclusion on the 2004squad. Gentil has 176 digs in the NCAA Tournament,smashing the previous record of 95 held by Pacific'sDorothy Hert in 1986. She set a national semifinalmatch record with 33 digs against Southern Californiaon Dec. 16. Gentil is currently third on the NCAAcareer dig list with 2,139.

The Gophers broke the school record for wins (33) inthe NCAA era with their semifinal victory overSouthern California on Dec. 16.

Minnesota is only the third Big Ten Team to reach theNCAA Tournament championship match. Wisconsin was thelast to do so in 2000. Penn State reached the finalsin 1993, 1997, 1998 and 1999. The Big Ten's onlynational title came in 1999 with the Nittany Lionstaking home the trophy.

Stanford is one of four schools to have participatedin each of the 24 NCAA Division I Women's VolleyballChampionship tournaments.

Stanford has three players on this year's roster thathas taken part in two national championships (2001 and2004). Ogonna Nnamani, Jennifer Hucke and Leahi Hallall were freshmen as the Cardinal defeated Long BeachState to win its last NCAA title in 2001. The threeStanford players have now appeared in the three NCAAtitle matches, including the 2001, 2002 and 2004events. Stanford has won five national women'svolleyball championships (1992, 1994, 1996, 1997,2001).

Stanford has played in all four time zones in the lastfour weeks. The Cardinal played Arizona and ArizonaState in the Mountain Time Zone, the NCAA Tournamentfirst and second rounds in the Eastern Time Zone atFlorida A&M, the region semifinal and region final inthe Central Time Zone at Green Bay, Wis., and now theNCAA Division I Women's Volleyball ChampionshipTournament semifinals in the Pacific Time Zone in LongBeach.

Stanford entered the NCAA Division I Women'sVolleyball Championship as the 11th seed. Only the2003 Minnesota team has reached the nationalsemifinals from a lower seed. The Gophers were seeded13th in last year's tournament.

The two-day attendance total was 17,165 for the NCAADivision I Women's Volleyball Championship (8,339 forthe semifinals, 8,826 for the championship).

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