Friday, Dec. 13
Match #1 - 2 p.m. PT | ESPN3.com
No. 20 Michigan State (23-11) vs. No. 2 Penn State (30-2)
Memorial Coliseum | Lexington, Ky.
Match #2 - 4 p.m. PT | ESPN3.com
No. 10 Minnesota (29-6) vs. No. 3 Stanford (26-5)
Memorial Coliseum | Lexington, Ky.
Saturday, Dec. 14
Match #3 - 1 p.m. PT | ESPNU
Winner Match 1 vs. Winner Match 2
Memorial Coliseum | Lexington, Ky.
TOURNEY TIME: The third-ranked Stanford women’s volleyball team (26-5) has advanced to its 11th Sweet Sixteen under head coach John Dunning, now in his 13th season with the Cardinal. Stanford is on a quest for its seventh national title with the most recent coming in 2004. The tournament’s overall No. 7 seed, the Cardinal will face 10th-ranked Minnesota (29-6) in the regional semifinals on Friday, Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. PT.
SCOUTING MINNESOTA: Minnesota (29-6) enters the week on a six-match winning streak, including a sweep over Radford and a five-set win over Colorado in the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Gophers are hitting .289 as a team and average 13.61 kills, 2.89 blocks and 1.19 aces per set. Minnesota is a veteran squad led by seniors Tori Dixon, Ashley Wittman and Alexandra Palmer. Dixon is a middle blocker who leads the team with 3.65 kills per set on a .398 attack percentaget while adding 1.30 blocks and 1.23 digs per set. Wittman, an outside hitter, is averaging 3.36 kills and a team0best 3.41 digs per set. Palmer controls the Minnesota offense with 8.99 assists per set to go with 2.29 digs per set.
THE SERIES WITH THE GOLDEN GOPHERS: Stanford is 4-0 all-time against Minnesota. Most recently, the Cardinal and Golden Gophers met during the 2007 season as Stanford posted a four-set win in Minneapolis. The Cardinal is 1-0 against the Gophers in the NCAA Tournament, sweeping Minnesota in the 2004 national title match in Long Beach, Calif.
SCOUTING PENN STATE: Penn State is 30-2 overall and currently boasts a 21-match winning streak. The Nittany Lions are 22-0 in three-set matches and lead the nation with 3.10 blocks per set. Junior setter Micha Hancock guides the Penn State offense, talling 11.11 assists per set, while posting 2.14 digs and a team-best 0.65 aces per set. Senior middle hitter Katie Slay is hitting .404 to pace the Nittany Lions, while senior right side Ariel Scott is averaging a team-best 3.18 kills per set. Senior outside hitter Deja McClendon adds 2.92 kills and 2.87 digs per set.
THE SERIES WITH THE NITTANY LIONS: Stanford and Penn State are an even 7-7 in the all-time series. The Nittany Lions hold the most recent victory, a five-set win in State College in 2012 at the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic. The Cardinal won the previous two meetings, including a sweep at the 2010 Big Four Classic which ended the Nittany Lions’ record 109-match winning streak, and a four-set win in the 2011 Big Four Classic.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE: Michigan State is 23-11 overall and earned a spot in the Sweet Sixteen with a four-set win over the No. 15 seed Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington on Dec. 8 after sweeping Ohio in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 7. The Spartans are hitting .247 as a team and notching 13.73 kills and 2.65 blocks per set. Michigan State is led by a pair of seniors, outside hitter Lauren Wicinski and middle blocker Alexis Mathews. Wicinski paces the team with 4.47 kills per set and averages 2.03 digs per set. Mathews is posting 2.20 kills and 1.52 blocks per set, while hitting .404. Junior libero Kori Moster anchors the defense with 4.66 digs per set.
THE SERIES WITH THE SPARTANS: The Cardinal holds a 2-0 series advantage over the Spartans. Stanford and Michigan State haven’t met since 1996, when the Cardinal swept the Spartans in East Lansing during the opening weekend of the season.
LOOKING AHEAD: Should Stanford advance past this week, the team will travel to the Final Four in Seattle. The matches will take place Dec. 19-21 at KeyArena.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch the regional seminfinal matches on ESPN3.com and the finals on ESPNU. KZSU radio will also be broadcasting the Stanford matches at 90.1 FM or online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/. Live stats for the matches will be accessible on GoStanford.com and ncaa.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.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: This year marks Stanford’s 33rd consecutive NCAA postseason appearance. The Cardinal is one of only two programs in the nation to have appeared in every NCAA Tournament since the NCAA Championship began in 1981 (Penn State is the other). Stanford has won more NCAA Championships (6), made more Final Four appearances (18), competed in more national championships matches (14) and won more NCAA Tournament matches (103) than any program in the nation.
SETTER OF THE YEAR: Sophomore Madi Bugg was tabbed the Pac-12 Setter of the Year. She leads the Pac-12 with 11.83 assists per set, upping that mark to 12.10 in conference matches. Her assists per set average ranks seventh in the nation and she’s had two of the Pac-12’s seven 60-plus assist outings on the season.
PAC-12 IN THE TOURNEY: The Pac-12 earned nine berths into the 2013 NCAA Tournament, a league record and the most by any conference in the nation. It is the 14th straight year in which the Pac-12 has sent at least six teams into the postseason and the 22nd overall. Pac-12 teams posted a 110-16 (.873) record versus other conferences during the regular season. Three Pac-12 school remain in the field of 16.
STANFORD VS. THE FIELD: The Cardinal has played 20 matches against the 2013 NCAA field, posting a 15-5 record. Stanford went 11-3 against Pac-12 teams in the tournament, and have picked up non-conference wins over Hampton, Oklahoma, UC Santa Barbara and Yale.
SWEET NOVEMBER: Stanford went undefeated in the month of November (9-0) and brought a nine-match winning streak into the postseason. Now with 11 straight wins, it marks the longest winning streak of the season for the Cardinal.
SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Senior middle blocker Carly Wopat has been named a top 10 finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, which focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The winner will be announced at the Final Four in Seattle in December.
BLOCK CITY: Stanford’s team blocks per set mark of 3.02 leads the Pac-12 and ranks third in the nation. Senior Carly Wopat leads the conference and ranks 13th nationally with 1.44 blocks per set, while sophomore Inky Ajanaku is averaging 1.38 blocks per set (3rd Pac-12, 20th nationally). As a team, the Cardinal registered a season-high 18 blocks at Oregon (11/14).
SPREAD OFFENSE: Stanford setter Madi Bugg has controlled the offense this season, leading the Pac-12 and ranking seventh in the nation with 11.83 assists per set. She has been spreading the love amongst her teammates in the process as five Cardinal players are averaging at least 2.70 kills per set - Carly Wopat (293k/2.90kps), Brittany Howard (288/2.80kps), Rachel Williams (282k/2.76kps), Jordan Burgess (283k/2.72kps) and Inky Ajanaku (268k/2.71kps).
CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Senior Carly Wopat ranks among the top 10 in school history in career blocks (third), becoming just the third player to reach the 600 blocks plateau (603). She now trails Kim Oden (1982-85) and Bev Oden (1989-92) who totaled 665 and 650 blocks, respectively. Her 1.38 career blocks per set average would be the third-best mark in school history.
SENIOR STATEMENT: Senior outside hitter Rachel Williams is one of the Cardinal leaders this season with 2.76 kills per set. She posted double-doubles in three consecutive matches (vs. Pacific, Florida & Texas) and leads the team with 10 overall. Her 21 kills against then-No. 8 Florida are the most by a Cardinal player 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 4.99 digs per set. She set a new career high and tied the school’s single match record with 33 digs against USC on Oct. 30. She has 509 digs this season, which is the fourth-best mark in a single season in school history. Gilbert is averaging 4.04 digs per set for her career, ranking second in program history behind Gabi Ailes (4.57).
BY THE NUMBERS: The Stanford women’s volleyball program has won more NCAA titles (6), won more NCAA Tournament matches (103), 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. It is one of just two programs in the country to have appeared in all 33 NCAA Tournaments, having won all 33 of its first-round matches.
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: Head coach John Dunning captured his 800th career victory on Nov. 22 as the Cardinal swept Washington State at Maples Pavilion, becoming just the fourth active Division I head coach to reach that mark. In 29 years as a head coach, he is 804-168 (.827), giving him a winning percentage that ranks amongst the top-5 all-time for Division I coaches. Dunning is 367-66 in his 13 seasons on The Farm, leading all active coaches in the conference by winning percentage (.848).