Heading toward the determination of the winner of the 2013-14 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, gostanford.com will provide a progression of each of Stanford’s 19 consecutive victories. Here is the 16th, in 2009-10:
Directors' Cup No. 16 (2009-10) | 2009-10 Season In Photos
STANFORD'S 2010 NCAA men’s volleyball championship had its origins in 2007, during a 3-25 season.
On road trips, the five-member freshman class always chose to ride in the van driven by longtime assistant coach Al Roderigues.
"Don't worry," Roderigues told them during that season. "Someday, you'll go worst to first."
"I had hope," said Kawika Shoji, the 2010 National Player of the Year, recalling those bitter days. "I dreamed."
For four seasons, Roderigues' motto became a mantra, a theme that echoed along with the sound of volleyballs deflecting off the shadows inside the Burnham Pavilion practice gym. And, as those years passed, the Cardinal kept getting better.
By the time Stanford rolled into the 2010 NCAA final, excellence was expected. What it got, however, was perfection.
In volleyball terms, Stanford's stunning performance was as close to perfection as anyone could ask for. The Cardinal (24-6) hit .495 as a team, and sophomore Brad Lawson pummeled Penn State with 24 kills in 28 swings. His only hitting error came on a kill that was nullified because Lawson stepped on the three-meter line during a backrow attack. He finished with a hitting percentage of .821 - a Stanford season-high by nearly .200 points.
It may have been the most dominating performance by an outside hitter in NCAA Tournament history, all in front of a raucous Maples Pavilion crowd dressed largely as Star Wars characters.
Roderigues didn't live to see his prediction come true. He died March 19 of stomach cancer, only 11 days after Stanford rose to No. 1 in the national rankings for the first time in years.
However, Stanford players kept his memory in their thoughts and played the season with "AL" sewn into the sleeves of their uniforms.
The men’s volleyball team contributed 100 points as Stanford took home its 16th straight Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, scoring 1508.5 points, the highest total in NCAA Division I history.
Stanford scored points in 28 sports, but could only count the maximum 10 men’s and 10 women’s sports. Stanford boasted an impressive 17 top-10 finishes -- taking home the men’s volleyball and women’s tennis titles. The Cardinal had 11 teams finish among the nation’s top five, and that didn’t count women’s lightweight rowing, which captured the national IRA title, but wasn’t included in the Director’s Cup scoring.
Toby Gerhart wasn’t your typical Heisman Trophy candidate. He was under-recruited coming out of high school and did not play on a national-title contender in 2009. But Gerhart was dominant and would finish second in the closest Heisman vote ever.
The hard-running Gerhart did win the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back ever, rushing for a Stanford record 1,871 yards and scoring a national-leading 28 touchdowns. He rushed for 178 yards and three TDs in the “What’s Your Deal?” 55-21 thrashing of No. 11 USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
In the final home game of his collegiate career, Gerhart carried the Cardinal to a 45-38 nationally-televised victory over Notre Dame, scoring the winning touchdown with 59 seconds left.
Gerhart gained 205 yards on 29 carries, scored three touchdowns and passed for another on a wild fourth-down play that tied a game and capped a comeback from an 11-point second-half deficit before 50,510 at Stanford Stadium.
"It was mayhem," said Gerhart, who was rushed by joyous Stanford fans on the field after the game. "I don't know what to say. I was excited, I was shaking. It was a good way to go out."
Just as her sister Erin had done before her, Mallory Burdette closed out an NCAA women’s tennis team title for Stanford. Mallory trailed 5-4 in the third set of the deciding match against Florida, but rallied for a 7-5 victory to clinch the championship.
The women’s basketball team returned to the NCAA final, thanks partly to Jeanette Pohlen’s heroics in the regional final that enabled the Cardinal to advance to the Final Four.
Pohlen drove the length of the court to lay in the ball at the final buzzer to give Stanford a dramatic 55-53 victory over Xavier.
In the national semifinal, teammate Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored a career-high 38 points to lead Stanford to a 73-66 victory over Oklahoma. Ogwumike set game (23) and season school records for rebounds (376) and was named Pac-10 Player of the Year during a 36-2 season.
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More highlights from 2009-10:
• Stanford reached its first NCAA College Cup women’s soccer final behind the play of Kelley O’Hara, Stanford’s first Hermann Trophy winner as the best player in college soccer. O’Hara led the nation in goals (26) and points (65) and was the key to the Cardinal’s best-ever 25-1 season.
• Bradley Klahn became the 14th Stanford player to win an NCAA singles title and the first in a decade. Klahn entered the tournament with a No. 13 national ranking. Klahn picked apart the competition, winning four of his six NCAA tournament singles matches in straight sets and earning a berth in the national title match after easily knocking off the tournament's top seed and country's No. 2-ranked player in Henrique Cunha of Duke 6-2, 6-2. Klahn handled unseeded Austen Childs of Louisville, 6-1, 6-2, in the final.
• The No. 2 Stanford Lightweight Eight set a course record en route to claiming its first-ever IRA national title with a nearly four-second victory over top-ranked Wisconsin in the Grand Final. The victory would launch a run of four consecutive national titles from 2010-13.
• Elaine Breeden captured the 100- and 200-yard butterfly and Julia Smit won the 200 and 400 individual medleys to carry the Cardinal to second place at the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships. Breeden was one of four finalists for the Honda-Broderick Award and Smit was the Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year. The two combined for 50 All-America honors.
• Carly Janiga became the second Stanford gymnast to win a women’s individual title when she won the uneven bars crown with a score of 9.9375, giving her three top-three finishes in the meet.
• Stanford women's gymnastics was in danger of being eliminated during the team preliminaries, but senior Blair Ryland led off the vault rotation with a personal best 9.925 to change the momentum for the Cardinal, which indeed advanced to the NCAA Super Six for the third time in four years. Stanford would place fourth as a team.
• Chad LaTourette won the 1,650 freestyle and Eugene Godsoe won the 100 backstroke at the NCAA men’s swimming and diving championships, helping the Cardinal to fourth.
• Eddie Penev won the vault and Ryan Lieberman won the parallel bars to help the Stanford men’s gymnastics team to second in the NCAA.
• Lindsay Burdette and Hilary Barte teamed for the NCAA women’s tennis doubles crown.
The Final Count:
1) Stanford, 1,508.5
2) Florida, 1,310.25
3) Virginia, 1,253.25
4) UCLA, 1,124
5) Florida State, 1,087.5
Stanford’s Top Scoring Teams:
1 (tie), Men’s volleyball, women’s tennis, each 100 points; 3( tie), women’s soccer, women’s water polo, women’s basketball, men’s gymnastics, and women’s swimming and diving, 90 each.
Directors' Cup No. 1: 1994-95
Directors' Cup No. 2: 1995-96
Directors' Cup No. 3: 1996-97
Directors' Cup No. 4: 1997-98
Directors' Cup No. 5: 1998-99
Directors' Cup No. 6: 1999-2000
Directors' Cup No. 7: 2000-01
Directors' Cup No. 8: 2001-02
Directors' Cup No. 9: 2002-03
Directors' Cup No. 10: 2003-04
Directors' Cup No. 11: 2004-05
Directors' Cup No. 12: 2005-06