Dec. 12, 1997
Stanford, UCSB to Meet in Regional Final
Defending National Champion Cruises By Colorado
SKristin Folkl turned in a match-high 14 kills. (file photo)
STANFORD, Calif.- The defending national champion and third-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team cruised past No. 20 Colorado 15-7, 15-3, 15-1 in a Mountain Regional semifinal match at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal will face fifth-ranked UC Santa Barbara in the regional final tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. in Maples Pavilion. The Gauchos advanced through the other semifinal match with a 15-13, 16-14, 15-6 sweep of Texas. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the gate.
Aside from a 4-0 Colorado run to open the match, it was all Stanford, which improved to 30-2 with the victory. The Cardinal got stronger with every passing point, both in game one and throughout the match. Erasing the 4-0 deficit with a 9-0 run, the Cardinal eventually cruised to a 15-7 game one win. The Cardinal held the Buffaloes to a meager .061 hitting percentage in the opening stanza.
On Colorado's 4-0 start, Stanford head coach Don Shaw stated "We were a little sloppy with service reception. Once we settled down we limited the unforced errors quite a bit. It's a matter of telling the team this is what we need to do and they respond."
Game two would be more of the same as Stanford again dominated at the net en route to a 15-3 win. The Cardinal bumped their hitting percentage from .308 in game one to .455 in game two while the Buffaloes managed just a .122 clip.
Stanford closed out the match with a 15-1 game three victory. The Cardinal outhit the Buffaloes .556 to .083. With the loss, the Buffaloes completed the season 22-9.
"I'm very happy with the way we played," said Shaw. "I think we're playing very good defense right now. We're fortunate that we have played teams we played earlier in the year. I didn't think they would vary much. I credit these players. They're pretty consistent. This group does a pretty good job of focusing. That's why we haven't lost too many games this year."
Senior outside hitter Kristin Folkl turned in a match-high 14 kills and a phenomenal .542 hitting percentage (14-1-24).
"I don't know (if that is my career-high hitting percentage)," said Folkl. "I'm just glad we won. I never know what my stats are in postseason games. All I know is we have three Final Fours and two NCAA Championships."
Senior middle blocker Barbara Ifejika and sophomore middle blocker Kerri Walsh (Saratoga, CA/Archbishop Mitty) each added seven kills for the Cardinal. Juniors Sarah Lodge and Melissa Schutz paced Colorado with eight kills apiece.
"Let me start by congratulating Stanford," said Colorado head coach Pi'i Aiu. "They have a very strong team. We wish them the best. I don't think we were ready to compete and we got dominated. If you aren't prepared to play, who do you look to but the coach. I'm real disappointed. I think we started making a lot of mistakes. The mistakes would creep back in and we had to find a way to fix that."
In the opening match of the night, Katie Crawford recorded 24 kills while Roberta Gehlke added 19 to lead UC Santa Barbara to the win over Texas. Tanja Hart tallied 58 assists. After rallying from a 13-11 deficit in game one, UCSB had to hold off a big Texas surge in game two to take the 2-0 lead. The Gauchos came on strong in game three to sweep the Longhorns, 3-0.
"First of all we are proud to beat a great team like Texas that has great athletes and tradition," said UCSB head coach Kathy Gregory. "We used our advantage in quickness and stopped their attack and had good defense and blocking - and we did it in Gaucho style. "
Demetria Sance had a game-high 26 kills for Texas while Pavlina Steffkova added 64 assists. The Longhorns end the season with a 25-7 record.
"We ran into something, actually two things that have plagued us a lot and that's closing out games one and two," said Texas head coach Jim Moore. "It has really plagued us all season and came back to haunt us tonight and that's why we're second here in the interview room."