Stanford Outlasts USC to Advance to National Championship Match
Dec. 13, 2007
Sacramento, Calif. - Foluke Akinradewo matched a career-high with 26 kills, and hit 21 points above her nation-leading average (.523). All five Stanford hitters recorded double figure kills and three players notched double-doubles. Freshman Alix Klineman recorded just the fourth 30-dig performance in school history, and Stanford (32-2) walked away with a thrilling 23-30, 30-20, 30-25, 20-30, 16-14 victory over the USC Trojans (29-5) to advance to Saturday's NCAA Championship Match.
Akinradewo's 26 kills led the Cardinal, as did the junior's .523 hitting percentage. Cynthia Barboza recorded 17 kills and 15 digs, and Klineman chipped in 14 kills and 30 digs. Senior middle blocker Franci Girard added 12 kills, and junior opposite Erin Waller added ten. Senior Bryn Kehoe recorded 70 assists, her third 70+ performance of the season, and libero Gabi Ailes notched 25 digs.
Waller cracked a kill off of the USC block for the first point of the match, but the Trojans scored four straight to establish a three-point advantage. Three Barboza kills in a four-point span pulled the Cardinal within one at 7-6, and a block by Akinradewo and Kehoe brought the Cardinal close again at 12-11. USC fought them off each time, and responded to the Cardinal's second threat with a damaging 5-0 run to take a 17-11 lead. The Trojans steadily pulled away, stretching the margin to as much as nine at 28-19. Akinradewo led a 4-1 spurt to close the gap to six at 29-23, but that was as close as the Cardinal would come. Stanford couldn't recover an attack by Jessica Gysin on the final point, and USC took game one, 30-23. Kaczor led the Trojans with nine kills in the opening game, and Stanford was outhit, .341 to .295.
Waller recorded the first two Stanford kills of game two, and Akinradewo added two more to push Stanford out to an early 6-3 advantage. Klineman and Barboza chipped in two more apiece to help extend the lead to 10-5, but USC fought back and twice trimmed the lead to just two. Girard and Waller put up a block to end a series of even trades at 20-16, and, soon after, the Cardinal began a destructive rally that put the squad in firm control. A Trojan hitting error started an 8-1 run that included three kills and a block by Akinradewo and two powerful blasts by Klineman. The freshman gave Stanford game point by pounding down two consecutive USC overpasses, and then knocked another kill into the back corner a point alter to seal the win, 30-20. Stanford righted things in the hitting column in game two, posting a .442 clip to USC's .270. Akinradwo and Klineman led the Cardinal with seven kills each in the game.
Stanford raced in front quickly in game one, capitalizing first on USC hitting woes, and then on the momentum of Akinradewo and Barboza. Akinradewo slammed two kills and blocked Kaczor twice, then Barboza ripped kills on three straight points to build an 8-2 Cardinal run. The rally put Stanford ahead 14-5, but the Trojans battled and got back in the game 17-13 with a 8-3 run. Akinradewo returned to the front row and caught fire again, slamming three kills in a 4-1 run to make it 22-15. Consecutive kills and a block by Diane Copenhagen helped reduce the margin to four at 24-20, but Stanford stood firm. The teams perfectly exchanged the final 12 points of the game, and the Cardinal held on for 30-25 victory. Stanford led in the hitting column, .246 to .155, behind six kills apiece by Klineman and Akinradewo.
USC was out of the gates first in game four, pushing ahead 7-2 before Stanford got on track. Akinradewo paced the Cardinal in a 6-1 run that tied the game at eight, and Barboza drilled down an overpass to cap a three-point string of Cardinal points soon after. Barboza's kill gave Stanford its first lead at 11-10, but USC quickly turned things back in its favor with a powerful 9-1 run, 20-13. The Trojans didn't let up, widening the gap to 24-15 with a block, and using a series of Cardinal errors to take game point at 29-19. A Cardinal ball-handling error ended things, 30-20. Kaczor led the Trojans with five kills and USC outhit Stanford .268 to .136.
Akinradewo notched the first kill of game one, but Kaczor and the Trojans took the next four points to take a 4-1 lead. Akinradewo slammed two kills to tie at four, but USC fought back out to a two-point lead at the switch 8-6. Klineman slammed a kill to tie at eight, but two Kaczor kills gave USC another two-point lead, 11-9. Waller slammed a kill and Klineman and Akinradewo put up a big block to tie at 11, and the team traded points to tie at 12 and 13. USC took game point on a Kaczor kill at 14-13, but a Trojan service error brought the game into another tie at 14. Girard and Barboza delivered Stanford's 11th block of the match to give Stanford a game point opportunity, and the team capitalized. Barboza drilled a ball off of the USC block, to seal a spot in Stanford's 13th National Championship match, 16-14.
Stanford will meet the winner of the California-Penn State match Saturday night at 6 p.m. (PT) live on ESPN2.