No. 2 Stanford Kicks Off Home Schedule at the Stanford Invitational

Sept. 4, 2007

Stanford, Calif. -

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UP NEXT: After two weeks on the road, the Cardinal women's volleyball team will head back to the friendly confines of Maples Pavilion and open the home schedule with the 2007 Stanford Invitational. As usual, the tournament features a challenging field, with three top-25 teams participating. Action begins on Thursday, with a 4:30 p.m. match-up between No. 17 Cal Poly and No. 9 BYU, and follows with Stanford's home-opener against Saint Mary's at 7 p.m. Stanford will meet the Cal Poly Mustangs on Friday night, before seeking to avenge a 2006 loss to the BYU Cougars on Saturday night.

COME ON OUT: Single-game and season tickets to watch the Cardinal in action at Maples Pavilion are now on sale at or by calling 1-800-STANFORD. This Thursday night against Saint Mary's is Pizz'a Chicago Magnet Schedule Night. Free schedule magnets will be distributed to the first 1,000 fans. Friday night against Cal Poly is Camper's Reunion Night. Stanford volleyball summer campers will be admitted free with a coupon and will sit in special seating in the South End Zone. Saturday night's game against BYU is Free Poster and Autograph Night. The Cardinal players will sit down for an autograph session following the match.

LAST TIME OUT: The Cardinal improved to 4-0 and took home the Diet Coke Classic title with a clean sweep of the competition last weekend in Minneapolis, taking out three ranked opponent in less than 72 hours. Stanford first took care of No. 12 San Diego in three games on Friday, before topping No. 9 Minnesota, 3-1, on its home court on Saturday. The team finished the weekend by handing No. 23 Ohio its first loss of the season in the tournament championship game. Alix Klineman led the team with 48 kills for the weekend, while Cynthia Barboza was named the weekend's MVP.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Cardinal is back on the road, Sept. 12-15, heading across the country to play near the hometowns of its two seniors, Bryn Kehoe and Franci Girard. The team plays a rare Wednesday night match against Cincinnati on Sept. 12, then moves further east to compete in the Yale Invitational. The tournament in New Haven includes Stanford, Yale, Delaware State and No. 3 Penn State.

HOME ON THE FARM: The Cardinal will be playing at home for the first time in 2007 this week. Last year, Stanford was 14-1 at home and lost just six games in 15 matches.

SETTING A RECORD, LITERALLY: After the weekend in Minnesota, senior setter Bryn Kehoe sits another rung higher on the Stanford career assist ladder. The North Bend, Ohio native recorded 42 against San Diego on Friday, passing Lisa Sharpley (1994-97) for third place on the program's career assist chart. The two-time All-American began her final collegiate season in fourth place, with 4,214 to her name. So far she has 184 in 2007, and stands just 63 shy of Carrie Feldman's (1989-92) second place mark, a milestone she will likely pass this weekend. The all-time Cardinal assist leader is Wendy Rush, who collected 5,003 assists between 1984 and 1987. Kehoe need 605 to catch her.

A FIRST FOR EVERYTHING: Two of Stanford's newcomers racked up a notable list of firsts this weekend. After notching her first double-figure kill performance on Friday night, freshman Alix Klineman recorded her first career double-double on Saturday, with 17 kills and 14 digs against Minnesota. Klineman hit a career-high .414 against San Diego, and recorded multiple aces for the first time against Minnesota the next day. Gabi Ailes tallied 10 digs on Friday night, her first time in double-figures, and delivered two more even better performances the next two days. Ailes led the team in digs twice, set a career high with 18 digs against Minnesota, and tallied six assists and three service aces in the team's win over Ohio. Also against Ohio, Cassidy Lichtman notched her first career ace, and redshirt sophomore Alex Fisher set a career-high with four kills.

HITTING THE MARK: Junior middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo continues to be the most reliable hitter on the Cardinal squad, recording a kill more than half of the times she touches the ball. Akinradewo hit a season-high .706 with 13 kills on 17 attempts and one error on Sunday against Ohio. She has hit above .400 in three of the Cardinal's four matches, with her season low (.393) being a 14-kill, seven block performance against Minnesota. Akinradewo set a school record last year, with a .431 season hitting percentage and has a .519 mark so far this season. She is currently hitting at a .418 clip for her career, a mark more than 50 points higher than Sara McGee and Jennifer Detmer, who hold the Stanford career hitting percentage record (.364).

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH...: When the Cardinal faced No. 9 Minnesota, its toughest opponent of the weekend, it was Stanford's senior captain Franci Girard who stepped up and helped Stanford maintain its pristine record. The middle blocker, who averaged 1.81 kills per game going into the season, poured in a career-high 15 in the four-game match, and helped the team bounce back from a game one loss and take the match. It wasn't the first time Girard has stepped up a big match, however. Last season, her top performances came in matches against BYU, USC, UCLA and Nebraska.

LEADERS OF THE PAC: Foluke Akinradewo's .519 hitting percentage is currently the best in the Pac-10, while Bryn Kehoe's 14.15 assists per game rank second. Alix Klineman is seventh in the league in points per game (4.73) and the only true freshmen to make the list. Klineman and Cynthia Barboza both make the top-10 with 4.23 and 3.85 kills per game, respectively, and Gabi Ailes stands seventh in the conference with 3.85 digs per game. With three aces in her first seven games, Erin Waller makes the conference's top-10 list for aces per game. Stanford's 18.15 kills per game mark leads the league.

WHAT THEY'VE BEEN UP TO: During the off-season, a number of Cardinal players remained in the competitive spotlight. In April, Cynthia Barboza and Bryn Kehoe took to the beach, and took second in CSTV's Powerade Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship in San Diego. In June, Barboza competed with the US National Team at the Pan Am Cup in Colima, Mexico and helped the team to a fourth place finish. In July, Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo started for the US National Team that won a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in Brazil. Just entering their junior seasons, the Stanford players were the two youngest on the roster, and two of only three current collegiate players. Cardinal newcomers Alix Klineman and Cassidy Lichtman were also active in the off-season, as both were members of the US Junior National Team that finished fourth at the FIVB U-20 Junior World Championships in Thailand.

BRING IT HOME: Much of the collegiate volleyball excitement will be local this year, as the Cardinal will stick close to home for preseason, conference and postseason action. The Cardinal opens the home season with the Stanford Invitational this week and hosts nine conference matches during the fall. The Cardinal's own Maples Pavilion floor will also be one of four 2007 NCAA Regional sites, while the 2007 Final Four will be just up the road at ARCO Arena in Sacramento.

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. Eleven opponents appeared in the preseason top-25, and 13 participated in the NCAA Championship last season. Six of Stanford's first seven matches are against ranked opponents, with two of those matches coming this weekend.

2006 IN REVIEW: Stanford finished 2006 with a 30-4 record, won an unprecedented 10th Pac-10 title and made a postseason run to its 12th NCAA title match, before falling to Nebraska in the national final. Stanford earned 25 of its 30 wins by 3-0 margins, went 16-2 in the conference and played 22 matches against eventual NCAA Tournament participants. Four Stanford players earned All-America honors, and three of those players - Bryn Kehoe, Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo - are back for 2007.

TOURNEY TIME: Stanford has hosted the Stanford Invitational every year since 2002, and has gone undefeated in the event three times. Last season, the Cardinal bested Santa Clara, Georgetown and Saint Mary's to bring home the title.

SCOUTING SAINT MARY'S: The Saint Mary's Gaels, who finished last season with an 11-14 record, seem to have turned things around for 2007. The squad has started the year 5-0, with all five wins coming on the road. The team lost three starters, but so far the program's newcomers have stepped up and made an impact. Freshman outside hitter Megan York leads the team with 4.58 kpg, and freshman setter Kapua Kamana'o is averaging 10.47 assists per game. Other top performers for the Gaels so far include junior Taylor Groess (3.58 kpg) and sophomore Megan Burton (2.47 kpg, 1.58 bpg).

THE SERIES WITH THE GAELS: Stanford has met Saint Mary's eight times in program history, and holds a 6-2 (.750) record against the Gaels. Saint Mary's will be making its third-straight appearance at the Stanford Invitational this season. Stanford swept the Gaels in the 2005 and 2006 editions of the tournament, winning last year 30-27, 30-23, 30-19 behind 15 kills from Foluke Akinradewo.

SCOUTING CAL POLY: Cal Poly is 3-3 so far this season, but has faced some of the nation's toughest competition already, including No. 1 Nebraska and No. 3 Penn State. The Mustangs were 23-6 last year, won the Big West title and made it to the NCAA Second Round where they were eliminated by Cal in four games. Nine letterwinners and all but one starter return, including All-Big West selections Kylie Atherstone, Chelsea Hayes, Kristen Jackson and Jaclyn Houston. Junior Ali Waller is currently leading the team with 4.00 kpg, but Atherstone is close behind with 3.77 kpg. Houston leads the team with 1.45 bpg and a .382 hitting percentage.

THE SERIES WITH THE MUSTANGS: The Cardinal and Mustang programs have met nine times, and Stanford holds a slight edge in the series 5-4. It's been awhile since the teams have met, however, with the last meeting being a Cardinal sweep in 2002. Stanford has not lost to Cal Poly since 1986.

SCOUTING BYU: BYU is 5-0 so far this season, and has climbed to No. 9 in the polls after stunning No. 10 Wisconsin last weekend. Last year, the Cougars were 25-6 and made it to the NCAA Second Round where they fell to USC. Eleven letterwinners are back, including senior Chelsea Goodman, a 2006 Honorable Mention All-American. Goodman leads the team with 4.26 kpg. Junior middle blocker Rachel Dyer has also been playing well for the Cougars (3.32 kpg, 1.05 bpg), as has senior opposite Erica Lott (3.37 kpg).

THE SERIES WITH THE COUGARS: Stanford is 7-3 overall against BYU, but the Cougars handed the Cardinal its only preseason loss last season and one of just four setbacks the entire year. In just the second game of the 2006 season, the Cardinal fell to the Cougars on their home floor. This weekend, the teams will meet on Stanford's home court and the Cardinal will most definitely have something to prove. Stanford also fell to BYU in the previous meeting between the two teams in 2000, but topped the Cougars the meeting before that in 1999.

NATIONAL POLL: Stanford came in at No. 2 for the third straight week in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. Defending National Champion Nebraska held onto the top spot in the poll for the third straight week, while Penn State, USC and UCLA remained the rest of the top-five. Five Pac-10 squads - Stanford, UCLA, USC, Cal and Washington - are currently in the top-25.

PICKED TO REPEAT: For the second straight season, the Stanford women's volleyball team was predicted to win the Pac-10 title by the league's coaches. Stanford, the defending Pac-10 Champion, claimed 89 points, 12 more than second-place USC, including eight of the ten first-place votes. Last season, the Pac-10 sent three teams to the Final Four and, over the last six seasons, the conference has sent 12 teams to the Final Four and captured five national titles. During those six seasons, the league has posted an impressive 568-171 (.769) record against non-conference opponents. The coaches have correctly picked the Pac-10 champion in 11 of the previous 18 polls.

HEAD COACH John Dunning: Beginning his seventh season at the helm of the Cardinal, Head Coach John Dunning is one of the most accomplished coaches in collegiate volleyball. Dunning has four National Championships under his belt, has taken his teams to seven Final Fours and owns a 58-18 record in the NCAA Tournament. During the 2006 season, he earned his 600th career win and will be looking for his 200th win with the Stanford program this season. In his first 22 years as a head coach, Dunning was 613-132 (.823), giving him a winning percentage that ranks among the top-five active Division I coaches. Dunning accumulated a 176-30 in his first six seasons on The Farm.

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