THIS WEEK: The Stanford women’s volleyball team (2-0) plays host to the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge, featuring the second-ranked Cardinal, top-ranked Penn State (3-0), No. 9 Illinois (3-0) and UCLA (2-1).
Friday, Sept. 5
6 p.m. - No. 1 Penn State vs. No. 2 Stanford (Pac-12 Networks)
8 p.m. - No. 9 Illinois vs. UCLA (Pac-12 Networks)
Saturday, Sept. 6
5 p.m. - UCLA vs. No. 1 Penn State
Sunday, Sept. 7
11 a.m. - No. 9 Illinois vs. No. 2 Stanford (Pac-12 Networks)
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Live stats for the match can be found on the women’s volleyball schedule page on GoStanford.com. Both Stanford matches, along with the Illinois-UCLA match will be televised onthe Pac-12 Networks. KZSU radio will be broadcasting both Cardinal matches at 90.1 FM or online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/.
GAMEDAY PROMOTIONS: Join Coach Dunning in Kissick Auditorium, located in the Arrillaga Family Sports Center, from 4-4:30 p.m. for a pre-match Chalk Talk. Note, there is construction between Maples and the AFSC, please enter on the east side of the building. Sunday's match is Kids Free Day! Follow this link to register for a voucher to redeem at the ticket office on Sunday.
SCOUTING PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions, the 2013 NCAA champions, have started the season 3-0 and hold the No. 1 ranking coming into Friday’s match. Senior setter Micha Hancock controls the Penn State offense, averaging 11.33 assists per set. Ali Frantti posted 3.44 kills, 1.44 digs and 1.11 blocks per set while hitting .482 during the opening weekend. Megan Courtney added 3.11 kills on a .500 hitting percentage. As a team, Penn State held its opponents to a .009 attack percentage.
THE SERIES WITH THE NITTANY LIONS: Penn State leads the all-time series 8-7. The Nittany Lions defeated the Cardinal in five sets in the Lexington Regional final a year ago. Stanford’s most recent win came during the 2011 season, the last time the Nittany Lions came to Maples. The Cardinal also swept Penn State in 2010, snapping the Nittany Lions’ NCAA-record 111-match winning streak.
SCOUTING ILLINOIS: Illinois enters the week ranked ninth nationally and has started the season 3-0 with wins over Long Beach State, Southern Illinois and then-No. 20 North Carolina. Illinois has not dropped a set and is holding opponents to a .135 hitting percentage. Redshirt junior Jocelynn Birks leads the squad with 3.56 kills per set and 2.56 digs per set. Opposite Liz McMahon adds 2.67 kills on a .426 hitting percentage.
THE SERIES WITH THE ILLINI: The Cardinal is 4-0 overall against the Illini. The most recent meeting came in 2008 at the Billiken Invitational in St. Louis, Mo., resuting in a Stanford sweep.
STARTING FIVE: Stanford’s first five matches of the year are against opponents who appeared in last year’s NCAA Tournament, including 2013 champion Penn State at home on Friday, Sept. 5. Four of the five are ranked in the top 25 of the AVCA poll (No. 1 Penn State, then-No. 7 Nebraska, No. 9 Illinois and No. 19 Duke), while Iowa State is receiving votes.
ALL-AMERICANS: Stanford returns four of its five All-Americans from last season, including AVCA first-team selection Inky Ajanaku (Jr., MB, human biology) and AVCA second-team pick Madi Bugg (Jr., S, political science). Additionally, Kyle Gilbert (Sr., L, management science & engineering) and Jordan Burgess (Jr., OH, human biology) were tabbed honorable mention by the AVCA.
MILESTONE FOR AJANAKU: Stanford junior Inky Ajanaku is four kills away from 600 for her career. She will join classmates Jordan Burgess (671) and Brittany Howard (605), who have already reached the plateau.
BY THE NUMBERS: The Stanford women’s volleyball program has won more NCAA Tournament matches (104), made more Final Four appearances (18) and been in the national championship match (14) more times than any other program in the nation. The Cardinal has captured 18 conference championships and produced 30 or more wins on 16 occasions. Stanford, along with Penn State, has won the most NCAA titles (6) and appeared in all 33 NCAA Tournaments, having won all 33 of its first-round matches.
NATIONAL POLL: Stanford moved up to No. 2 in the AVCA top 25 this week. Defending national champion Penn State remained at No. 1, while Texas, Wisconsin and Washington round out the top 5. Six Pac-12 squads are ranked in the top 25 (No. 6 USC, No. 17 Arizona State, No. 22 Oregon and No. 23 Arizona).
PAC-12 COACHES’ POLL: For the 13th time since 1986, the Pac-12 coaches picked Stanford to win the conference. The Cardinal garnered 114 points, just one ahead of second-place USC. Washington came in third, while Arizona State and California rounded out the top 5. The coaches have correctly chosen the conference champion in 17 of the previous 28 polls.
2013 IN REVIEW: In 2013, Stanford (27-6) appeared in its 33rd straight NCAA Tournament, reaching a regional final for the ninth time under head coach John Dunning. The Cardinal finished second in the Pac-12 with a 17-3 conference mark. Inky Ajanaku and Carly Wopat were named AVCA First Team All-Americans, while Madi Bugg earned second team accolades and Kyle Gilbert and Jordan Burgess were honorable mention.
TAKING ON THE BEST: Once again, head coach John Dunning has lined up one of the most challenging schedules in the nation for the Cardinal. Stanford is slated to play 10 regular-season matches against teams ranked in the preseason poll, and 22 against teams that appeared in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
HEAD COACH JOHN DUNNING: Now in his 14th season at the helm of the Cardinal program, head coach John Dunning is one of the most accomplished coaches in the collegiate volleyball world. Dunning has four national championships under his belt, has taken teams to nine Final Fours and carried six of his 13 Stanford teams to the national title match.
MILESTONE FOR DUNNING: John Dunning secured his 800th career win on Nov. 22, 2013 against Washington State. In 29 years as a head coach, he is 807-169 (.827), giving him a winning percentage that ranks amongst the top-5 all-time for Division I coaches. Dunning is 370-67 in his 13 seasons on The Farm, leading all active coaches in the conference by winning percentage (.847).