Oct. 4, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - The 2012 season marks the 20th anniversary of Stanford women's volleyball's first NCAA Championship. The entire 1992 squad is back on campus for Homecoming weekend and will be honored at Friday's match versus Oregon.
Expectations were once again high for head coach Don Shaw's Stanford club as it entered the 1992 season.
"I think we were all aware that something incredible was happening that fall, the sum of which was definitely greater than its parts," recalls Anne Wicks. "I am so grateful to have been a part of it!"
The Cardinal was coming off its best season yet, a 30-2 campaign that included a Pac-10 title and an 18-0 conference record. But the gradu¬ation of three players - Nicole Appleman, Amy Cooper and Kristin Klein - who had a combined eight seasons of starting experience, meant that the 1992 squad would not have it easy.
Easy it wasn't, but the Cardinal still achieved its ultimate goal - winning its first-ever NCAA title. The Cardinal (31-2) did it by upsetting previously unbeaten UCLA 15-8, 15-9, 6-15, 15-10 in the championship match in Albuquerque, N.M.
Stanford won the crown on the shoulders of three seniors - Carrie Feldman, Bev Oden and Jennifer Jackson - and a standout newcomer, freshman Cary Wendell. Oden led the team for the season with 478 kills and Feldman, the team's setter, notched 1,248 assists.
"We were truly the definition of a team that year," said assistant coach Lara Sellers (formerly Lara Aspers). "There were no individual players looking for glory. Everyone worked incredibly hard and supported each other. They had great team chemistry that year."
The road to Albuquerque was definitely not an easy one. Stanford opened the season with a grueling eight-match road trip, but topped three ranked opponents and came home 8-0. Stanford then rallied through Pac-10 play, faltering only in its two meetings with UCLA. After UCLA hand¬ed Stanford its second loss of the season, however, the Cardinal would not lose again. Stanford closed the regular season with a nine-match win streak, and gained momentum for the NCAA Tournament.
"By the end of the season I knew that if anyone could beat that star-studded Bruin `Dream Team' it was going to be us," recalls Bev Oden.
Stanford was eager for a rematch with UCLA in the NCAA final, and the team got its wish. After sweeping Pittsburgh at home, the Cardinal captured the Mideast Regional crown by topping Penn State in three games and Illinois in four. In its first Final Four appearance in five years, the Cardinal then downed Long Beach State in four games to earn another chance at the Bruins.
"I remember no one giving us a shot at beating UCLA," said Oden. "UCLA had better players, but we had a better team. Never before and never since did I play on a team that worked so well together."
The third time turned out to be the charm when the Bruins and Cardinal met in the title match. Behind all-tournament selections Feldman, Oden and Wendell, the Cardinal avenged its previous two losses to the Bruins with a four-game win to claim its first NCAA title.
"Winning that match was the most amazing feeling in the world," said Cary Wallin (formerly Cary Wendell). "I feel so lucky to have been a part of that experience and to have made Stanford women's volleyball history and help kick off an impressive string of championships."
"I have felt gratitude and pride every single time I have been asked over the past 20 years about what it was like being on that very special championship team," added Heidi Eick.