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December 21, 1996

Top-Seeded Stanford Beats Hawaii, 3-0

Volleyball Wins Third National Title in Five Years

CLEVELAND, OH --- Stanford University won its third NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament in the last five years with a convincing 15-7, 15-3, 15-5 win over the University of Hawaii on Saturday afternoon at the Cleveland State Convocation Center.

The 15 points scored by the Rainbows was the lowest in a championship match since the NCAA Tournament began in 1981 (previous low of 18 - Nebraska d. Long Beach State 15-12, 15-0, 15-6, 1989). The win was the Stanford's 44th in NCAA Tournament history, which moves them ahead of UCLA for the all-time lead.

"I've known all along that if we play to our potenital we can be scary," Stanford coach Don Shaw said. "We just put it all together tonight."

"We didn't play poorly, we just faced a bigger, better, stronger team," Hawaii coach Dave Shoji said. "You can't fault the effort, we gave everything we had. We couldn't score in bunches, we couldn't put anything together."

The Cardinal (30-2) dominated the Rainbows (35-3) from start to finish led by Final Four Most Valuable Player Kerri Walsh. The freshman from Saratoga, California had a match-high 17 kills (.438 hitting percentage) and eight digs as the Cardinal hit .350 against a defense that was allowing just a .127 hitting percentage entering the match.

"This feels great," Walsh said. "It hasn't hit me yet."

Walsh was joined on the All-Tournament Team by three-time All-American Kristin Folkl (St. Louis, MO/St. Joseph's HS) and two-time All-American Lisa Sharpley (Los Altos, CS/Los Altos HS). Folkl hit .406 with 16 kills and nine digs, while Sharpley added 37 assists and eight digs. Hawaii native Debbie Lambert (Kaneohe, HI/Punahou HS) contributed 10 kills.

The Cardinal beat the Rainbows at the net. Stanford outblocked Hawaii 14-5, and held National Player of the Year Angelica Ljungquist without a block. Ljungquist entered the match averaging 1.97 blocks per game.

Stanford took a 6-2 lead in game one behind the blocking of junior Barbara Ifejika (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), who finished with a match-high eight blocks. Hawaii later snuck within 11-6, but after a Stanford time out, the Cardinal rattled off four of the next five points to take a 1-0 lead. The Rainbows hit just -.026 in the opening game.

Stanford opened game two with four straight points, but Hawaii answered back with three of its own. The Rainbows wouldn't score again as Walsh recorded four kills, four digs and three blocks in game two.

The Cardinal wrapped up the crown with seven unanswered points in game three. With Sharpley serving match point, Walsh ended things with a kill down the middle just 1 hour, 31 minutes after the match had began.

The win was Stanford's second over the Rainbows this season, including (5-15, 15-11, 15-6, 15-9) a 3-1 win in Honolulu on November 2.