Dec. 8, 2006
Austin, Texas -
In a familiar matchup, second-seeded Stanford (28-3) defeated California (22-10) tonight in the first of two Regional semifinals at Texas' Gregory Gym, 31-29, 30-25, 31-29. The Bears played the Cardinal tough, but couldn't answer a combined 33 kills from sophomore outside hitter Cynthia Barboza (12), senior outside hitter Kristin Richards (11) and sophomore middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo (10). Junior setter Bryn Kehoe collected 39 assists, as well as three blocks, while Akinradewo led the Cardinal with four blocks.
"We played in a great atmosphere tonight," said head coach John Dunning. "It doesn't get any better than the NCAA Tournament, especially when you're playing Cal. Cal played very well, and we feel confident moving on to the next step."
Game one opened to slight lead for the Golden Bears until Stanford took a 3-2 lead on an attacking error, continuing on a 3-0 run. Kills by freshman Hana Cutura and sophomore Morgan Beck pulled the Bears back within a point, 6-5, then Cal took the lead on a kill by junior Ellen Orchard, 7-6. The Bears held a narrow lead on Cardinal errors until Stanford used a 3-0 run on kills by Kehoe and sophomore Erin Waller to take the lead, 12-11. Back-to-back blocks by the Bears tied the game again at 17, but Barboza collected another kill and Richards and senior Lizzie Suiter put up a block to move Stanford back into the lead, 20-18. Suiter came out of a timeout with a kill in the middle for the Cardinal as Stanford pulled out a 2-0 streak, 25-23. However, Cal tied the game on errors and took the lead with an ace by freshman Kristen Kathan, 26-25, to force Stanford into a timeout. Barboza pounded another kill from the left side, and Richards recorded a block solo and a kill to tie the game at 28. Akinradewo and Waller notched another block, but senior Natalie Smart answered with a quick kill in the middle, 29-29. Waller then downed a kill on the right side, and Akinradewo finished game one with a massive kill in the middle, 31-29.
Stanford claimed a long rally to begin game two in the lead, followed by a kill from Richards on the left side and an ace by senior Nji Nnamani
, 3-1. Cutura collected a massive kill as the Bears pulled together a 2-0 streak to tie the game. Richards later recorded two aces for Stanford, and Akinradewo downed a kill in the middle to move the Cardinal ahead, 8-3. A sneaky tip from Barboza and blocks by junior Franci Girard
and Barboza formed a 5-1 run to gap the Bears, 12-4. Waller later notched a kill from the right side and Barboza rolled an ace over the net to increase Stanford's lead, 17-6. Pressey tallied a kill to spark a 2-0 California streak, but Waller ended the run with a tip, 19-8. The Bears tallied points on a kill by Beck and net violation, 22-12, but Stanford remained well ahead with two powerful kills by Barboza, 25-13. Cal cut into the Cardinal lead on net violations and an ace by Orchard, 25-18, but Waller ended the run with a tip on the left side. The Bears pulled within four on an ace by senior Jillian Davis, 28-24, but a kill by Akinradewo and rocket by Barboza clinched game two for the Cardinal, 30-25.
Stanford opened to a 7-4 lead in game three off of kills by Nnamani, Barboza and Richards. Orchard tallied three kills for the Bears as Cal inched back within a point, 9-8, but Waller and Akinradewo combined for a block to keep Stanford in the lead. Following a timeout, the Cardinal continued on a 4-0 run until Beck tallied a kill in the middle, 14-10. Pressey later notched a block solo to keep the Bears within four points, 18-14, but Waller and Girard responded with a block on the right side. Smart pounded down a kill in the middle on an overpass, forcing the Cardinal into a timeout at 19-16. Richards fought off the Bears with a kill down the left line, but Pressey followed with another kill to keep the game within a point, 20-19. Akinradewo pounded a kill from the right side as the two teams dueled kill for kill. An ace by Richards and a tip by Kehoe helped Stanford pull away from California, 25-21. Carter snuck a tip over to put the Bears within three, 26-23, but Stanford closed in on the win with an ace by Barboza. Cal continued to fight with a kill by Pressey and an ace by Carter, 29-27, tying the game at 29 with another kill by Pressey. Stanford claimed game three on a kill by Richards on the left side, 31-29.
Wisconsin and host Texas now battle to advance to the Regional Final versus Stanford. The Cardinal and the winner of the second semifinal will face each other tomorrow night at 5:30 pm (CT) to advance to the 2006 NCAA Final Four next weekend in Omaha, NE. Tomorrow's final will be televised live on ESPNU.
"Winning in the regional final two years ago was one of the most memorable moments in my life," said Richards. "I want everyone who wasn't at that match to be able to experience that feeling this year."
GAME SCORES 1 2 3 TEAM RECORDS
California (0) 29 25 29 22-10
Stanford (3) 31 30 31 28-3