THIS WEEK: The eighth-ranked Stanford women’s volleyball team (5-2) plays host to Cal Poly on Wednesday, Sept. 18 and Saint Mary’s on Friday, Sept. 20. It will be Stanford’s final tune-up before Pac-12 Conference action begins on Sept. 25.
SCOUTING CAL POLY: Cal Poly has opned the season with a 4-5 record, dropping its last three matches. The Mustangs are led by a pair of senior outside hitters- Megan McConnell and Chelsea Hardin. McConnell paces the team with 3.38 kills and 2.62 digs per set, while Hardin is hitting .287 and averaging 2.97 kills per set. Sophomore Maddie Kuber and junior Shannon Garrett have split time at setter, averaging 8.91 and 8.39 assists per set, respectively. Freshman middle blocker Taylor Gruenewald has added 2.06 kills and 0.71 blocks per set to go with a .306 attack percentage.
THE SERIES WITH THE MUSTANGS: The Cardinal leads the all-time series against the Mustangs 8-4 (.667). The most recent meeting between the two programs came during the 2008 season as Stanford defeated Cal Poly (25-17, 23-25, 26-24, 25-10) in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
SCOUTING SAINT MARY’S: The Gaels have started the season with a 4-3 record, including wins at Colorado and against then-No. 17 Iowa State. As a team, Saint Mary’s is outhitting its opponents .235 to .188. Senior outside hitter Jordan Shaw, the daughter of former Stanford head coach Don Shaw, leads the team with 3.44 kills and 2.89 digs per set. Senior Kristina Graven is averaging 3.11 kills and 2.78 digs per set as an outside hitter, while senior libero Sarah Reams paces the defense with 3.63 digs per set. Sophomore setter Dalas Dodd controls the offense with 11.48 assists per set.
THE SERIES WITH THE GAELS: Stanford is 13-2 (.867) overall against Saint Mary’s. The teams met twice in 2012 with the Cardinal posting a sweep (25-14, 25-16, 25-20) in the season opener in Hawai’i and capturing a four-set win (18-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19) in Moraga, Calif.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stanford opens the Pac-12 portion of its schedule on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at Bay Area rival California. The Cardinal will also host No. 18 Arizona State on Friday, Sept. 27 at Maples Pavilion.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch Friday’s match live on the Pac-12 Network. KZSU radio will be broadcasting both matches at 90.1 FM or online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/. Live stats for the matches will be accessible on GoStanford.com.
SOCIAL NETWORKING: Fans will have access to unique behind-the-scenes content on the team this season by liking Stanford Women’s Volleyball on Facebook or following the team on Twitter and Instagram (@StanfordWVB). Instagram will house the Cardinal’s off the court photos and videos all season long.
LAST WEEK: Stanford went 3-0 last week playing in the Service Academy Challenge inside the Pentagon. Senior Carly Wopat led the team with a .568 attack percentage (24-3-37) to go with 12 blocks (1.50 bps). Senior Rachel Williams added 29 kills and eight blocks, while sophomore Brittany Howard finished with 27 kills and 20 digs.
RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS: Stanford returns a pair of All-America middle blockers in 2013. Senior Carly Wopat was a first team selection by the AVCA and Volleyball Magazine, while sophomore Inky Ajanaku was an honorable mention pick by the AVCA in 2012. This season, the pair one-two in the conference in hitting percentage (Wopat- .479; Ajanaku-.460), while Wopat’s 1.36 blocks per set are fourth in the Pac-12.
NATIONAL POLL: Stanford remained at No. 8 this week in the AVCA top 25. Penn State reclaimed the top spot in this week’s poll, while San Diego, Washington, Florida and USC round out the top 5. Six Pac-12 squads are ranked in the Top 25, while California is receiving votes.
SPREAD OFFENSE: Stanford setter Madi Bugg has controlled the offense this season, ranking second in the Pac-12 and ninth in the nation with 11.65 assists per set, spreading the love among her teammates in the process. Four Cardinal players are averaging at least 2.00 kills per set - Rachel Williams (3.43), Brittany Howard (3.30), Carly Wopat (3.00) and Inky Ajanaku (2.17).
CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Senior Carly Wopat already ranks among the top 10 in school history with 488 career blocks. She needs just 15 blocks to pass Kerri Walsh (‘00) for fifth all-time at Stanford. Her 1.36 career blocks per set average is tied for third in school history with Kim Oden (‘85).
SENIOR STATEMENT: Senior outside hitter Rachel Williams is leading the Cardinal this season with 3.43 kills per set, ranking ninth in the conference. She posted double-doubles in three consecutive matches (vs. Pacific, Florida & Texas). Her 21 kills against then-No. 8 Florida are a season-high and tied for the fourth-most kills by a Pac-12 player in a four-set match this season.
DOMINANT DEFENSE: Junior libero Kyle Gilbert has led the defensive side of the ball for the Cardinal this season and ranks second on the Pac-12 charts with 4.95 digs per set. She collected a season-high 24 digs in the loss at then-No. 6 Texas, leading all players. Gilbert is averaging 3.75 digs per set for her career, ranking second in program history.
CARDINAL TIES: Three of Stanford’s four freshmen have strong ties to the University. Most notably is freshman Kelsey Humphreys whose mother, formerly Wendy Rush, was a four-time All-America setter for the Cardinal from 1984-87 and is a member of the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame, and her father, Brad, was a member of the Stanford football team. In addition, both Grace Kennedy and Merete Lutz’s parents graduated from Stanford. Kennedy’s sister, Victoria, won two NCAA championships with the Stanford women’s water polo team (2011 & 2012), while Lutz’s brother, Karsten, is a member of the Cardinal rowing team.
HALL OF FAME MOTHERS: Freshman setter Kelsey Humphreys is not the only Cardinal player whose mother (Wendy Rush) has been inducted into her school’s hall of fame. Sophomores Madi Bugg and Brittany Howard’s mothers, Robin (Tennessee) and Eileen (Pacific), played collegiate volleyball and have been inducted into their school’s hall of fames as well.
HEAD COACH JOHN DUNNING: Now in his 13th 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 12 Stanford teams to the national championship match.
MILESTONE FOR DUNNING: John Dunning secured his 700th career win during the 2010 season and will likely capture win No. 800 during 2013. In 29 years as a head coach, he is 783-165 (.826), giving him a winning percentage that ranks amongst the top-5 all-time for Division I coaches. Dunning is 346-63 in his 13 seasons on The Farm, leading all active coaches in the conference by winning percentage (.846).