Stanford Takes Down No. 19 Illinois In Three
Sept. 6, 2008
St. Louis, Mo. - Behind another near-flawless performance by senior middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo, the No. 3 Stanford women's volleyball cruised to a 25-15, 25-22, 25-22 sweep of No. 19 Illinois this afternoon at the Billiken Invitational in Saint Louis, Mo. The win marked the second this season over a ranked opponent for the Cardinal and boosts the team's record to 4-1. Illinois (4-1) was handed its first loss of the year.
As part of her near-perfect afternoon, Akinradewo climbed onto one of the most elite Stanford lists in the second set, pounding her 1,353rd career kill at 14-13 to join the school's ten all-time kill leaders. With a team-high 12 kills in the match, Akinradewo is now tenth all-time at Stanford with 1,358 career kills. Her team-high five blocks on the afternoon moved her up a notch on the all-time blocks chart as well, tying Barbara Ifejika for seventh place (425).
Akinradewo hit .923 on the night (12-0-13), a career-high for the senior who is on pace to break the NCAA career hitting percentage record. Over the last two matches Akinradewo has gone 32 for 37 (.865) without committing a single error.
Sophomore Alix Klineman also turned in double figures with 10 kills on the night, and senior Cynthia Barboza added eight kills and 11 digs. Illinois was led by reigning AVCA National Player of the Week Laura DeBruler with 12 kills and eight digs.
It didn't take long for Stanford to establish a lead in the first set. After Illinois took its only lead at 3-2, Stanford took off on a 10-1 run and never looked back. Erin Waller paced Stanford offensively with two kills in the series, but the Illini made five costly errors to give Stanford a 12-4 lead. After an even trade of points, Barboza, Janet Okogbaa and Klineman ripped consecutive kills to push the lead into double-figures, 22-11. A kill by Akinradewo gave Stanford set point at 24-14, and the senior teamed up with Cassidy Lichtman for a block to finish things, 25-15. Led by Klineman's four kills, Stanford outhit Illinois .433 to .259.
Stanford started with a 0-2 deficit in the second set, but after a pair of key blocks, the team was quickly back on top, 5-4. Illinois hung around, however, tying the set on four occasions, before finally rallying to pull ahead. Akinradewo drilled her 1,353rd career kill at 14-13, but soon after Illinois strung together three points and reestablished a two-point lead, 16-14. The Illini successfully defended its lead until 20-19, when Akinradewo took charge in the front row with a kill and a solo block. The senior's solo stuff tied the set at 20, and Barboza slammed a kill on the next play to put the Cardinal on top, 21-20. After a brief even swap, Barboza crushed another kill from the left side to give Stanford set point, 24-22. A back row attack by the Illini ended the set on the next point, 25-22. Akinradewo had six kills in set two alone, and for the second match in a row, the defending national player of the year was hitting a perfect 1.000 (9-for-9) after the second set. Stanford outhit Illinois .367 to.278, and put up four of its nine blocks.
Klineman had two kills and a block to account for each of the Cardinal's first three points of set three, and Stanford soon had a 3-1 lead. Okogbaa kicked off a 6-2 Stanford run with back-to-back kills a short while later and ended that same run at 11-6 with her third block of the match. DuBruler led the Illini back, however, using back-to-back kills to trim the lead to two at 12-10. Akinradewo helped the Cardinal inflate the lead back to five, but five Stanford mistakes in a six-point span allowed Illinois back within one at 19-18. Stanford fended off the threat, however, and Barboza pounded a kill off the top of the block to give her team set point at 24-22. Okogbaa put up solo block when the Illini tried to pound down an overpass, and ended the set, 25-22.
Stanford plays host Saint Louis tonight at 7 p.m. (CT) to conclude the Billiken Invitational. The No. 3 Cardinal will return home to host the annual Stanford Invitational beginning Thursday at Maples Pavilion.