Dec. 2, 2006
Stanford, Calif. -
Stanford University (30-6) opened up its quest for a seventh national championship with a 3-0 victory over visiting Sacramento State (26-3) tonight in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Sophomore middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo and sophomore outside hitter Cynthia Barboza collected a match-high 14 kills each to head the Cardinal offense, while junior setter Bryn Kehoe orchestrated the attack with 45 assists and guided her squad to a .376 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Kristin Richards also contributed 12 kills, 14 digs, two aces and two blocks. On the defensive end, sophomore libero Jessica Fishburn had 20 digs and Barboza contributed 16 digs of her own, while Akinradewo put up four blocks. For Sacramento State, outside hitter Atlee Hubbard recorded a team-high11 kills, while middle blocker Lindsay Haupt blocked a match-high six attacks.
"Sacramento State was fighting tonight," said head coach John Dunning. "We stepped up when we needed to at the end. As a coach, when you're in the NCAA tournament, you watch your team do things they haven't done before. A team gains more confidence throughout the year. We like to add some offensive options at the end of the year that people don't know about, making us more difficult to scout."
Stanford opened up the match with a quick 5-1 lead thanks to the strong net play of Richards, who had two kills and a block. Sacramento State rallied on kills from outside hitter Jennifer Ferguson and Haupt to pull within two, 7-5, but the quick net play of middle blocker Franci Girard and opposite Erin Waller powered the home team to a 12-6 lead. The Cardinal continued to apply pressure from all areas of the court, with Richards and Akinradewo teaming up for seven kills in a 9-3 run to give their team a commanding 21-10 advantage. Although the Hornets earned points behind the strong arm of middle blocker Michelle Franz, the Cardinal proved to be too strong of an opponent to overcome. Back-to-back kills from Richards and Akinradewo set-up game point for Stanford at 29-17 and two points later, a service error clinched game one for the home team, 30-19.
Barboza started off the second game with a thundering kill on the left side and Waller and middle blocker Lizzie Suiter
followed up with a huge block to give Stanford a 2-0 lead. The Cardinal continued to run on all cylinders and jumped to a 9-4 lead based on the heavy hitting of Barboza, as she accounted for four kills during the early run. The home team increased its lead on an attack error, 15-7, leading up to a media timeout. The two squads traded points back and forth until Kehoe's serve earned the Cardinal four straight points and a 24-13 lead. Stanford cruised to a 30-18 second game victory after a Richards blast from the left went down for a kill.
After the 10-minute intermission, Sacramento State took a 2-0 lead in game three. Barboza quickly equalized the Hornet's play, hammering the ball from the right side to score the Cardinal's first point and then serving three straight points for the 4-2 advantage. The Hornets would not go down quietly, tying the score up at 4-4 after a Franz ace and then kept up with Stanford for much of the opening stages of the third game. Down by one, Stanford tied it up at 8-8 with a kill from Akinradewo and then Richards notched an ace to take an 11-8 lead, forcing Sacramento State into a timeout. The Cardinal continued to maintain a three-point advantage, though a scrappy Hornet defense forced them to work for every point. Down 19-16, Sacramento State went on a four-point run to take its first lead of the entire match at 20-19 and continued to push Stanford on every play. On back-to-back plays, Waller split the block from the right side for kills to give Stanford the 25-24 lead. Service errors from the Hornets put the Cardinal near victory, then Akinradewo had two-straight kills to claim the match, 30-26.
"We brought a lot of intensity in the beginning of the match tonight," said Akinradewo, "And we need to keep it to be successful. Our passers did a great job tonight."
Stanford returns to the court tomorrow night at 7:00 pm against Missouri, who defeated Santa Clara earlier today. The Second Round winner is guaranteed a trip to the Austin, Texas Regional on December 8-9.
GAME SCORES 1 2 3 TEAM RECORDS
Sacramento State (0) 18 18 26 30-6
Stanford (3) 30 30 30 26-3