Stanford Volleyball Wins Fourth Straight Pac-10 Championship With 3-2 Win Over California
Nov. 27, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. -- The sixth-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team captured its fourth straight Pac-10 title with a 3-2 come-from-behind win over 11th-ranked California, Friday, in front of 5,125 fans, the largest crowd of the season at Maples Pavilion. Set scores were 23-25, 18-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-4 as the Cardinal improves to 21-7 and 14-4 in Pac-10 play, while the Golden Bears fall to 18-10 overall and 11-7 in conference action.
Junior Alix Klineman led the offensive charge, recording a new career high with 33 kills. The All-American added 11 digs for her ninth double-double of the season. Junior Cassidy Lichtman continued her all-around play as she turned in her ninth triple-double of the season with 13 kills, 18 assists and 10 digs, while senior Janet Okogbaa posted 12 kills on Senior Night. Junior libero Gabi Ailes finished with 17 digs and is nine away from becoming Stanford's all-time career leader in digs. As a team, Stanford hit .239, while holding Cal to a .208 clip.
The Cardinal opened the first set with a 4-1 lead, thanks to a kill from sophomore Stephanie Browne and thee errors by the Golden Bears. Cal cut the lead to one at 5-4, but a 4-1 run by Stanford pushed the lead back to four. Klineman drilled her first kill and picked up a solo block during that run. Lichtman joined in the action in the middle of the first set, registering two kills to keep the Cardinal on top, 15-11. Cal remained close, but back-to-back kills by Klineman and an ace by Ailes maintained the Stanford lead. However, Cal used a 4-0 run to pull within one of Stanford at 19-18, forcing head coach John Dunning to call timeout. Out of the break, Klineman tallied two more kills and Lichtman added another to give Stanford a 22-20 advantage, but Cal went on another 4-0 run to take its first lead and went on to win the set 25-23.
Stanford fell behind 4-1 to start the second set. A kill by Lichtman and an ace by redshirt freshman Jessica Walker tied the score at four all. Cal regained the lead, but Stanford once again played catch-up, tying the set at eight as senior Alex Fisher earned her first kill. The Bears would post a 6-1 run to pull ahead by five, but four straight Cardinal points cut the lead to one. Lichtman earned a kill and freshman Karissa Cook put down an ace during the run by Stanford. From there, Cal posted seven consecutive points to break open the lead, 21-13. The Bears would go on to capture the second set, 25-18, holding the Cardinal to a .098 attack percentage in the set.
The teams traded points back and forth as the set was tied six times early on. Cal finally pulled ahead, 11-7, picking up four unanswered points. Stanford searched for its offense, getting two kills from senior Janet Okogbaa, but was still searching to find its rhythm against the Bears. Cook dumped over another kill and Klineman and Browne teamed up for a block to cut the Cal lead to two. Trailing 22-17, Stanford used a 5-1 run to pull within one. Browne recorded a kill and Klineman registered a solo block to lead the Cardinal during that run. Out of a timeout, an attack error by Cal's Tarrah Murrey and a kill by Klineman gave Stanford the match point. Cook served her second ace of the match and Stanford escaped a sweep by Cal for the first time in school history.
The Cardinal pulled out to a 7-4 lead to begin the fourth set, as Klineman earned two kills and Cook put down another ace. Cal came back to tie the set at nine, but two straight errors by the Bears maintained the Stanford lead. The Bears managed to take the lead, but a kill by Okogbaa and an ace from freshman Hannah Benjamin tied the score at 13 all. Cal would go on a 6-3 run to pull ahead, 19-16, but two more kills by Klineman and an error by the Bears pulled the Cardinal within one. Three straight kills by Klineman, Lichtman and freshman Hayley Spelman put the Cardinal back on top, 21-19.
Stanford rode its momentum into the final set, pulling out to an early 5-2 advantage as Klineman drilled two more kills. The Cardinal kept up the pressure as Klineman and Browne combined for another block. Klineman then put Stanford up 8-4, with her 29th kill of the match. From there, the Cardinal posted seven straight points to seal the victory and its fourth consecutive Pac-10 title.
Stanford will learn its postseason fate this Sunday, Nov. 29 as the 64-team field for the 2009 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship will be announced at Noon PT on ESPNews. Stanford will head to the tournament for the 29th consecutive year. The Cardinal and Penn State are the only two programs in the nation to appear in all 29 NCAA Championships.