Akinradewo Propels Stanford To Four-Set Victory Over No. 10 USC
Nov. 21, 2008
Stanford, Calif. - Behind another dominant performance by senior middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo, the second-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team nabbed a four-set win over No. 10 USC tonight and positioned itself one match away from the Pac-10 title.
Stanford's 25-10, 22-25, 25-21, 25-18 victory completed a season sweep of the Trojans for just the second time since 1999. The Cardinal (23-3, 14-1 Pac-10) can clinch at least a share of the Pac-10 title when it takes on No. 9 UCLA tomorrow night in its last regular-season match at Maples. USC (16-9, 9-7 Pac-10) remains in fifth place with the loss.
Akinradewo continued her recent hot streak, pounding 19 kills on 28 swings for a .571 hitting percentage. The reigning AVCA National Player of the Year has reached double figures in nine of the last 10 matches, and hit over .500 in each of the last six.
Sophomore libero Gabi Ailes had perhaps her best night of the season, leading a strong defensive effort by the Cardinal. Ailes matched a season high with 24 digs, marking the 10th time in her career that she has reached the 20-dig plateau.
Sophomore Alix Klineman also put on a tremendous performance, turning in 17 kills and 11 digs for her sixth double-double of the season. Fellow outside hitter Cynthia Barboza earned a double-double as well (10 kills, 13 digs), her team-leading 12th of the year.
Stanford outhit USC .331 to .161. The Cardinal continues to hit at a school-record pace for the season (.320), having hit above .300 19 times this season. USC became the 17th Stanford opponent to hit below .200.
Tough defense helped the Cardinal take a commanding lead quickly in the first set. Alix Klineman and Foluke Akinradewo each had two kills in a 6-0 opening run, and after USC briefly stopped the Stanford momentum, the Cardinal hit the Trojans with an 8-2 run to go up 15-6. Stanford recorded its first two blocks in the run, and at 17-7, Klineman stuffed a third Trojan attack to push the margin into double-digits. At 18-8, Akinradewo and Klineman tacked on two more kills apiece in a 4-1 stretch that made it 22-9. Stanford took set point on a Cardinal error at 24-10 and Klineman drilled an ace straight to the floor for the winner, 25-10. Klineman had six kills in the opening set to lead all players and Stanford hit .440 while holding USC to .000.
The second set went into seven ties in the second set before Stanford was finally able to establish a lead. Klineman and Akinradewo teamed for a critical block on a long rally at 10-8 and a Trojan error put Stanford another point ahead at 12-9. Back-to-back USC swings were off target to give Stanford a four-point lead at 16-12, but USC slowly crawled back.. Three Trojan blocks in a 5-2 run narrowed the gap to one at 19-18 and Lauren Williams ripped a kill to finally tie things at 20. USC took the lead back at 21-20 on another Williams kill, and charged on to the finish. USC setter Taylor Carico had two kills to help the Trojans take the final three points and win set two, 25-22. Despite five kills by Akinradewo and five by Williams, both teams recorded sub-.200 hitting, with Stanford leading .149 to 130. The loss of the second set marked Stanford's first in the month of November.
USC put together a 5-1 run early in the third set, establishing a three-point lead on consecutive Stanford hitting errors at 9-6. Cardinal setter Cassidy Lichtman dumped a ball into the center of the Trojan court to pull Stanford within on at 11-10, but by the media timeout, USC had a 15-12 lead. Cynthia Barboza served two points in a row out of the break, including her 108th career ace to spur at USC timeout at 15-14. At that point, Akinradewo simply took control of the game. The senior ripped four kills and put up two blocks in a 10-2 Stanford rally, and gave the Cardinal set point at 24-18 with her 15th slam of the night. The Trojans managed three points in a row, but, after a Stanford timeout, Barboza finished things with her fourth kill of the set, 25-21. In a resurgent hitting effort by both teams, Stanford hit match-high .516 to USC's .375.
Klineman and Akinradewo continued to dominate as Stanford took the first four points of set four. The team built the lead two more points on a triple block by the Cardinal front line and Lichtman served an ace to make it 10-4. Stanford took its first seven-point lead on a Barboza's second ace of the night, 12-5. USC could make few inroads from there and Stanford easily held onto its lead. Trojan reserve Audrey Eichler picked up a few kills to help trim the lead to four for a brief period, but Akinradewo and Klineman took charge to finish. An Akinradewo kill started a 4-1 Cardinal run at 22-17 and Klineman drilled back-to-back kills to give Stanford set point at 24-17. Akinradewo drilled a ball straight to floor a point later for the 25-18 win. Klineman led all players with six kills in the clinching set. Stanford hit .333 and held the Trojans under .200 for the third time in four sets (.171).
Stanford will play its final regular-season home match tomorrow night, battling the ninth-ranked UCLA Bruins at 7 p.m. Prior to the match, Cardinal seniors Akinradewo, Barboza, Erin Waller and Jessica Fishburn will be recognized with Senior Night festivities.
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