Aug. 20, 1997
1997 Stanford Women's Volleyball
STANFORD SET TO DEFEND NCAA TITLE: Defending national champion and top-ranked Stanford University opens its quest for an unprecedented fourth national title when it hosts the State Farm/NACWAA Women's Volleyball Classic on Friday and Saturday at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal, which along with Hawaii and UCLA hold the current NCAA record with three national titles, finished on top in 1992, 1994 and 1996.
CARDINAL PUTS HOME STREAK ON THE LINE AT STATE FARM/NACWAA: Stanford has not lost at Maples Pavilion since November 17, 1993, but will be tested on its home floor by three of the nation's best teams this weekend in the third annual State Farm/NACWAA Classic. The Cardinal, who won the inaugural State Farm/NACWAA Classic in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1995, will be after its 50th straight home win when it faces No. 13 Texas A&M on Friday at 7 p.m., while No. 2 Penn State and No. 8 BYU tangle in the other semifinal at 5 p.m. The tournament concludes on Saturday with the consolation match at 5 p.m. and the championship at 7 p.m. The 49-match winning streak is the fourth longest home court winning streak in Division I history, behind Florida (58, 10/14/90-9/4/94) Hawaii (55, 10/23/86-11/11/89) and UCLA (52, 10/28/87-10/26/91).
STATE FARM/NACWAA TICKET INFORMATION: Tournament passes for the State Farm/NACWAA Classic are available through the Stanford Ticket Office. A two-day pass is $20 for adults, $15 for adults and $10 for children, seniors and students. Single day tickets are $12 for reserved seats, $8 for adult general admission and $6 for children, senior and student general admission. For more information, call 1-800-BEATCAL.
MEDIA INFORMATION: This weekend's tournament will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis by ESPN and ESPN2. Friday's Penn State-BYU semifinal will be aired on Friday at 9 p.m. (PT) on ESPN2, with the Stanford-Texas A&M match to follow at 10:30 p.m. Saturday's championship match will be aired on ESPN on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. (PT).
THE RECORDS: Stanford finished up the 1996 campaign with a 31-2 mark, including a 15-7, 15-3, 15-5 win over Hawaii in the national championship match on December 21 in Cleveland, Ohio. The 15 points scored by the Rainbow Wahine is the fewest ever in a national title match. Stanford was also an impressive 21-2 against ranked opposition in 1996, and a perfect 17-0 at home. The Cardinal, who won the final 14 matches of 1997, also captured its third straight Pac-10 title by winning 17 of its 18 matches to finish three games ahead of second place Washington State. The 31 wins also marked the fourth time in the last six years Stanford surpassed the 30-win mark.
THE COACH: In his 14 years on The Farm, Stanford head coach Don Shaw has amassed the best winning percentage in NCAA Division I history. Shaw, who served as co-head coach with Fred Sturm in 1984-85 before taking sole control in 1986, has a career mark of 349-61 (.851). Shaw has led Stanford to three NCAA titles, five Pac-10 titles and eight Final Four appearances. He has led the Cardinal to a 94-6 (.940) mark in the last three seasons, including a 52-2 mark in the Pac-10. The 1991 National Coach of the Year and 1992 and 1994 Regional Coach of the Year also coached four players - Barbara Fontana, Kristin Klein, Bev Oden and Nancy Reno - who participated in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
THE SERIES: Stanford is 7-3 all-time against its three opponents in the State Farm/NACWAA Classic. Texas A&M won its only meeting with Stanford, a 3-2 (15-11, 15-12, 15-17, 4-15, 15-12) victory at the Mizuno-USA Cup in Chicago on September 8. The Cardinal is also 6-1 all-time against Brigham Young and 1-0 vs. Penn State. Stanford last met the Cougars and Nittany Lions in 1992, winning at BYU 3-0 (15-11, 15-13, 15-13) on September 15 and beating Penn State 3-0 (15-13, 15-6, 15-13) at the NCAA Mideast Regional in Champaign, Illinois on December 11.
THE RANKINGS: Stanford is ranked No. 1 in the nation in both the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Poll and the Volleyball Magazine Top 20, while Penn State is No. 2 in both polls. BYU is No. 6 according to Volleyball Magazine and No. 8 according to the USA Today/AVCA, while Texas A&M is ranked No. 9 by Volleyball Magazine and No. 12 by the USA Today/AVCA.
STANFORD TABBED AS PAC-10 FAVORITE: In the Pac-10 Preseason Coaches Poll released on August 18, Stanford is a unanimous choice to win the conference title for the fourth consecutive year. Stanford received all nine possible first place votes and 90 out of 90 possible points. USC was picked to finish second, followed by UCLA, Washington State, Washington, Arizona, Oregon State, California, Oregon and Arizona State.
SENIOR DOMINANCE: The five members of Stanford's senior class - Kristin Folkl, Barbara Ifejika, Debbie Lambert, Paula McNamee and Lisa Sharpley - have a chance to be the first NCAA women's volleyball players to win three titles in four years. The class of '98 has won NCAA titles in 1994 and 1996, and is 92-6 (.939) on The Farm. In addition, Folkl, Ifejika, Lambert, McNamee and Sharpley are unbeaten in 47 matches at Maples Pavilion, and are 61-5 against ranked opposition (.924).
FOLKL LOOKS TO GO OUT IN STYLE: Two-sport standout and three-time women's volleyball All-American Kristin Folkl has eyes on her third national title in 1997. The St. Louis, Missouri native has played three seasons of volleyball and two seasons of basketball on The Farm, and led the Cardinal to the Final Four on all five occasions. Folkl was a Second Team All-American and member of the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team in in 1996, en route to hitting .305 with 505 kills, 258 digs and 105 blocks. The Cardinal co-captain is currently sixth in school history with 1,223 kills, and is just 130 behind fifth place Cary Wendell (1992-95; 1,353). Folkl, who has two years of basketball eligibility remaining, is scheduled to join Tara VanDerveer's squad following the conclusion of the volleyball season.
WALSH LOOKS TO REPEAT FRESHMAN SUCCESS: First Team All-American and 1996 National Freshman of the Year Kerri Walsh has a tough act to follow in her second year on The Farm. Walsh needed just one season to establish herself as one of the top players in the country, and emerge as a top contender for a roster spot at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. In addition to All-American and Freshman of the Year Honors, Walsh was named the 1996 Final Four Most Valuable Player, First Team All-Pac-10, All-Pacific Regional and AVCA National Player of the Week. Her 521 kills in 1996 was the second highest single season total in school history, behind only Teresa Smith's 563 in 1986. Walsh also ranks third in school history in single season service aces (47) and fifth in hitting percentage (.369).Walsh underwent surgery on her right shoulder in April, and her status for this weekend is questionable.
SHARPLEY TO RUN THE SHOW - AGAIN: Senior setter Lisa Sharpley will run the Cardinal offense for the fourth straight year, and the second in the 5-1 set. Sharpley shared setting and hitting duties with two-time National Player of the Year Cary Wendell in 1994 and 1995, but served as the primary setter last season. Sharpley immediately thrived in the 5-1 offense. Stanford was among the best in the nation with a .301 team hitting percentage in 1996, and hit .350 in the national title match vs. Hawaii. Sharpley finished 1996 with 1,433 assists to up her career total to 3,010. She currently ranks third in school history behind Wendy Rush (5,003; 1984-87) and Carrie Feldman (4,461; 1989-92). Sharpley spent the summer in Colorado Springs training with the United States National Team in its preparation for the World University Games.
THE NEWCOMERS: The Cardinal has five freshmen on its 1997 roster, including highly touted setters Robyn Lewis (Long Beach, CA) and Lindsay Kagawa (Albany, CA) and starting middle blocker candidate Jennifer Detmer (Thousand Oaks, CA). The trio is joined by a pair of walk-ons - Alex Newell (London, England) and Monica Sergott (Rancho Santa Fe, CA) - who are also expected to contribute this season. Lewis and Kagawa will battle for time at setter behind senior All-American Lisa Sharpley. Kagawa was a two-time North Coast Section Athlete of the Year, while Lewis joined the Cardinal last week after touring Brazil with the U.S. Youth National Team. Detmer will challenge Paula McNamee for the starting middle blocker slot vacated by All-American Eileen Murfee, while Newell will see time at middle blocker and Sergott in the back row.
THE SCHEDULE: Stanford once again will face one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season, facing 11 of the schools in the USA Today/AVCA top 25. Stanford will also face national runner-up Hawaii and 1996 regional finalists Penn State and Brigham Young. The Pac-10 schedule also expects to be a rigorous one against the likes of No. 7 Washington State, No. 19 Washington, No. 20 Arizona and No. 21 UCLA. Stanford opens the season with eight of its first 10 matches on the road, but later concludes the year with six of its final eight matches on The Farm.