Nov. 30, 2011
Schedule of Events:
Friday, Dec. 2
Match #1 - 4:30 p.m. PT
Baylor (18-14) vs. Michigan (20-12)
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif.
Match #2 - 7 p.m. PT
Sacred Heart (27-7) vs. No. 11 seed Stanford (21-7)
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif.
Saturday, Dec. 3
Match #3 - 7 p.m. PT
Winner Match #1 vs. Winner Match #2
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif.
TOURNEY TIME: The sixth-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team begins its quest for a seventh national title this week, hosting the NCAA First and Second Rounds at Maples Pavilion. The tournament's overall No. 11 seed, the Cardinal will face Sacred Heart in the opening round Friday night.
LOOKING AHEAD: Should Stanford advance, the team will travel to Gainesville, Fla., for the Gainesville Regional Dec. 9-10. The Final Four will be held Dec. 15-17 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch this week's matches on Gametracker available at GoStanford.com. KZSU radio will also be broadcasting the matches at 90.1 FM or online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/ . Additionally, a FREE webcast will be available online at NCAA.com.
SOCIAL NETWORKING: Become a fan of the Cardinal on Facebook by searching for the "Stanford Women's Volleyball" page. Follow the Cardinal at twitter.com/StanfordWVB to get updates on the team this season. Both sites will be updated live during matches this year.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: This year marks Stanford's 31st consecutive NCAA postseason appearance. The Cardinal is one of only two programs in the naiton to have appeared in every NCAA Tournament since the NCAA Championship began in 1981 (Penn State is the only other school to appear in all 31 events). Stanford has won more NCAA Championships (6), made more Final Four appearances (18), competed in more national championship matches (14) and won more NCAA Tournament matches (97) than any program in the nation.
PAC-12 HONORS: Sophomores Rachel Williams and Carly Wopat have been named to the 2011 Pac-12 All-Conference team. Junior setter Karissa Cook was an honorable mention selection, while outside hitter Lydia Bai was named to the All-Freshman Team.
PAC-12 FINISH: Stanford finished tied for fourth with Washington in the newly formed Pac-12 Conference this season. The Cardinal finished with a 15-7 record in the Pac-12 behind first-place USC (20-2), second-place UCLA (17-5) and third-place California (16-6). It is just the second time since 1986 in which Stanford has finished outside of the top-2 in the conference. The other came during the 2000 season when the team also finished fourth under interim head coach Denise Corlett.
PAC-12 DOMINANCE: The Pac-12 earned seventh berths into the 2011 NCAA Tournament, tied for the second-most of any conference. It's the 12th consecutve year in which the Pac-12 has sent at least six teams in the postseason and the 20th overall. Pac-12 teams posted a 77-21 (.786) record versus other conferences this season.
RPI: Stanford is ranked 18th in the latest NCAA RPI rankings. The Cardinal is the third highest Pac-12 squad with USC coming in at No. 8 and UCLA at No. 15. Seven Pac-12 squads are ranked in the top-50 of the poll.
STANFORD VS. THE FIELD: The Cardinal has played 16 matches against the 2011 NCAA field, posting a 9-7 record. Among the nine wins includes then-No. 2 Penn State, then-No. 7 Florida, then-No. 2 Washington and then-No. 4 USC.
HOME SWEET HOME: Stanford will begin postseason play at Maples Pavilion for the seventh straight season. The Cardinal is 12-3 at Maples in 2011 and 74-9 at home over the last six seasons, making Maples one of the toughest venues in the country to earn a road win.
IN ATTENDANCE: The Cardinal is averaging 2,505 fans at its home matches this season. Stanford's match versus California on Nov. 25 drew the largest crowd at Maples Pavilion this season with 5,011 fans in attendance.
DOMINATING DEFENSE: Stanford has turned up the defensive intensity this season. The Cardinal is second in the nation and the Pac-12 with 3.19 blocks per set. Stanford leads the conference with 16.86 digs per set. Stanford posted 21 blocks against Notre Dame and Arizona, and 104 digs against Duke, both are the most by a conference team this season.
Rachel Williams FILE: Sophomore Rachel Williams has been the team's offensive leader all season. The outside hitter is fifth in the conference with 4.32 kills per set (23rd nationally) and 4.94 points per set (19th nationally). She also leads the Pac-12 with 19 double-doubles this season.
Carly Wopat FILE: Sophomore middle blocker Carly Wopat leads the Pac-12 with 1.59 blocks per set, which ranks third nationally. Wopat set a new career high with 11 blocks against Oregon State on Nov. 20. Her previous career-best was nine blocks, which she posted three times this season (vs. Delaware, vs. Notre Dame and vs. Arizona). Wopat also led the Pac-12 in conference matches with a .410 hitting percentage and ranks 10th in the conference with 4.11 points per set.
Karissa Cook FILE: Junior setter Karissa Cook has successfully adjusted to Stanford's five-one system this year. After sharing setting duties with Cassidy Lichtman for the past two seasons running a six-two offense, Cook ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 11.36 assists per set. She has also stepped up other aspects of her game, ranking second in the conference with 18 double-doubles this season.
LUCKY NUMBER 20: With its win at Washington State on Nov. 13, Stanford has recorded its 11th consecutive 20-win season. It is the 30th time in program history the Cardinal has registered 20 wins or more in a season.
PAC-12 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:
Sept. 5: Junior Karissa Cook was named the Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts at the Stanford Invitational. She averaged 5.00 digs per set and 0.88 blocks per set in wins over Notre Dame and then-No. 18 Duke.
Sept. 12: Sophomore Rachel Williams picked up her first career weekly honors after being selected the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. She led the team to wins over then-No. 2 Penn State and then-No. 7 Florida and was named the MVP of the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic. Sophomore Carly Wopat picked up Defensive Player of the Week, joining Williams on the all-tournament team.
Oct. 3: Carly Wopat earned Offensive Player of the Week, becoming the first player to earn offensive and defensive honors in the same season. She hit .502 against ASU and Arizona, registering 26 kills and 14 blocks.
Oct. 17: Karissa Cook was tabbed Offensive Player of the Week, joining teammate Carly Wopat as the only two conference players to earn offensive and defensive honors this season. Cook led the team to sweeps over Washington State and then-No. 2 Washington, averaging 11.00 assists, 1.00 kills and 1.75 points per set.
NATIONAL HONORS: Junior setter Karissa Cook garnered AVCA National Player of the Week honors after leading the Cardinal to sweeps over Washington State and then-No. 2 Washington. She became the second conference player to earn the national honor this season. It marked the 14th time a Stanford player had received the recognition.
300 CLUB: The team's win at Oregon State on Oct. 7 gave head coach John Dunning his 300th career victory at Stanford. He is now 310-56 all-time on The Farm.
AS A TEAM: Stanford is the Pac-12 leader in digs per set (16.94) and ranks second in blocks per set (3.14). Additionally, the Cardinal is fourth in hitting percentage (.246), opponent hitting percentage (.170) and assists per set (13.30) and ranks fifth in kills per set (13.98).
MOVING UP THE CHARTS: Junior setter Karissa Cook has moved up to sixth on Stanford's all-time career assists list with 2,489. Her 8.86 career assists per set average also ranks amongst the top-10 in school history (eighth).
SINGLE SEASON BESTS: Sophomore Carly Wopat is just two blocks away from entering Stanford's top-10 single season blocks list. The middle blocker has posted a total of 167 blocks so far this season.
IN THE CLASSROOM: Senior middle blocker Stephanie Browne, who graduated last spring Phi Beta Kappa with University Distiction with a degree in political science and a minor in psychology, was named to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII first team. It marks the third straight year Browne has been selected to an Academic All-District VIII team. She earned Third Team Academic All-America honors last season and is again in contention to become an Academic All-American this season.
PAC-12 ALL-ACADEMIC: Six Cardinal players earned academic honors from the conference this season - senior Stephanie Browne (first team), junior Hannah Benjamin (honorable mention), junior Karissa Cook (honorable mention), sophomore Mary Ellen Luck (honorable mention), sophomore Rachel Williams (honorable mention) and redshirt freshman Lydia Bai (honorable mention).
NEW ROLES: With just two seniors on the roster of 14, the junior class has stepped up into new leadership roles this season. Setter Karissa Cook is running a five-one system for the first time since she's been on the Farm. Hannah Benjamin, who earned the starting libero spot to start the season, is being looked upon to lead the Cardinal defense as she has the most on-court experience of the returning defensive specialists.
HAPPY SHE'S BACK: Senior setter Katherine Sebastian has rejoined the team this season after taking a one-year hiatus to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Sebastian, who was a member of the 2008 and 2009 Cardinal teams, will back up Karissa Cook at the setter position this season.
NEWCOMERS: Stanford's class of 2015 includes outside hitter/defenisve specialist Lauren Birks, outside hitter Morgan Boukather and libero/defensive specialist Kyle Gilbert. All three players hail from southern California and made their collegiate debuts at the Rice Invitational.
NATIONAL POLL: Stanford dropped to No. 6 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association's top-25 last week. A new poll is not scheduled to come out until after the season is complete. USC remained No. 1, while Nebraska, Hawaii, UCLA and Texas round out the top-5. Six Pac-12 squads were ranked in the top-15, including four of the top-10.
PAC-12 COACHES' POLL: Stanford was chosen by the conference coaches to place fourth in the newly formed Pac-12. Stanford garnered 92 points in the preseason poll. Final Four participant USC was picked to win the conference title, earning 11 first-place votes. Last year's national runner-up Cal was selected second, while Washington came in third. Six conference teams advanced to the postseason in 2010, while the Pac-12 has won five of the last 10 NCAA titles. The coaches have correctly chosen the conference champion in 14 of the previous 22 polls.
CARDINAL ABROAD: Ten members of the Cardinal squad and its staff traveled to China in June for two tournaments and a lot of sight-seeing. Stanford played six matches (three in Weifang and three in Beijing) and experienced the Chinese culture. Among the sites, the team visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and Tiananmen Square.
2010 IN REVIEW: In 2010, Stanford posted a 27-4 overall record and claimed a share of its unprecedented 14th conference championship. The team finished the year with a postseason run to its fourth NCAA regional final in the past five years. The Cardinal defeated 11 ranked opponents and won 17 matches by 3-0 margins. Seniors Gabi Ailes, Alix Klineman and Cassidy Lichtman all collected All-America honors, while Klineman was the Pac-10 and Volleyball Magazine Player of the Year.
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 12 regular-season matches against teams ranked in the preseason poll, and 15 against teams that made appearances in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
HEAD COACH John Dunning: In his 11th 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 10 Stanford teams to the national championship match.
MILESTONE FOR DUNNING: In last year's season opener versus Tulane, head coach John Dunning secured his 700th career win. In 26 years as a head coach, Dunning is 747-157 (.826), giving him a winning percentage that ranks amonth the top-5 all-time for Division I coaches. Dunning is 310-55 in his 11 seasons on The Farm, leading all active coaches in the conference by winning prcentage (.849).
HALL OF FAMER: Head coach John Dunning has been selected as one of three inductees into the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) 2011 Hall of Fame class. He, along with Liz Masakayan and Gerald `Gerry' Matacotta, will be honored at the December 15 ceremony, held in conjunction with the 2011 Final Four in San Antonio, Texas.
SCOUTING SACRED HEART: The Pioneers completed the regular season with a 27-7 overall record and secured the Northeast Conference title for the second straight year with a 14-2 mark. Sacred Heart is riding a nine-match win streak into the postseason. The Pioneers are outhitting their opponents .224 to .161 this year. The team is also posting 14.22 kills per set, while holding opponents to just 9.98. Sacred Heart is led by senior outside hitter Kimmee Roleder. A transfer from USC, Roleder is averaging a team-best 3.94 kills and 4.62 points per set. She is also posting 3.20 digs and 0.31 aces per set. Senior libero Jessica Colberg anchors the defense with 4.14 digs per set. Sophomore outside hitter Dianis Mercado adds 2.76 kills and 2.96 digs per set for the Pioneers.
THE SERIES WITH THE PIONEERS: Friday's match will mark the first-ever meeting between Stanford and Sacred Heart.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN: Michigan earned an at-large berth into the postseason finishing with a 20-12 overall record and an 8-12 mark in the Big Ten. The Wolverines have posted three wins over ranked opponents this season, including at then-No. 16 Minnesota. Michigan is hitting .230 on the year while holding opponents to a .205 clip. The Wolverines are led by senior outside hitter Alex Hunt's 3.23 kills and 3.87 points per set. Sophomore outside hitter Lexi Erwin is adding 3.07 kills and 2.20 digs per set, while senior middle blocker Coutrney Fletcher leads the team with a .330 hitting percentage. Michigan relies on its rookie setter Lexi Dannemiller to control the offense. She is posting 11.62 assists and 2.39 digs per set. Senior libero Sloane Donhoff is the leader of the Michigan defense and is posting 4.53 digs per set.
THE SERIES WITH THE WOLVERINES: Stanford holds a 2-1 advantage over Michigan in the all-time series. The teams met most recently in the Stanford Regional in 2009. The Wolverines defeated the Cardinal in four sets in the semi-finals to end Stanford's season.
SCOUTING BAYLOR: Baylor concluded the regular season with an 18-14 overall record and a 5-11 mark in the Big 12. The Bears have dropped eight of their last 11 matches, but their most recent win came on the road at then-No. 25 Oklahoma on Nov. 12. Baylor is 5-1 on neutral sites this season, but only 4-9 on the road. Baylor is led by senior right side hitter Briana Tolbert, who is averaging 2.80 kills, 0.84 blocks and hitting .339 on the season. Junior middle blocker Torri Campbell had added 2.72 kills and 0.91 blocks per set this season. Senior libero Allison King has racked up 624 digs (5.11 dps) for the Bears in her final year.
THE SERIES WITH THE BEARS: Should Stanford face Baylor in the second round match, it would be the first meeting between the two programs.