Nov. 13, 2012
THIS WEEK: The top-ranked Stanford women’s volleyball team (24-2, 16-0 Pac-12) travels to Los Angeles to take on a pair of ranked opponents. The Cardinal will face No. 8 USC (24-4, 12-4 Pac-12) on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Galen Center and sixth-ranked UCLA (20-5, 12-4 Pac-12) on Friday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion.
SCOUTING USC: USC enters the week with a 24-4 overall record and sits in a tie with UCLA for third-place in the Pac-12 (12-4). The Trojans are tough at home, holding a 13-1 record at the Galen Center, with their only loss coming against Oregon. Freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio leads the team with 4.12 kills (7th Pac-12) and 4.70 points per set (6th Pac-12). Senior opposite Katie Fuller adds 3.27 kills and 2.20 digs, while junior Alexis Olgard is third in the Pac-12 with a .376 hitting percentage. Junior libero Natalie Hagglund anchors the defense with 4.82 digs per set, ranking second in the conference.
THE SERIES WITH THE TROJANS: Stanford holds a 57-20 lead in the all-time series with USC. The Cardinal swept the Trojans earlier this season at Maples Pavilion. In that match, freshmen Inky Ajanaku and Brittany Howard led the team with 12 kills apiece, while sophomore libero Kyle Gilbert racked up 22 digs.
SCOUTING UCLA: UCLA enters the week with a 20-5 overall record and tied for third in the Pac-12 with USC (12-4). The Bruins are undefeated (8-0) on their home court this season, but Friday’s match against the Cardinal will be the first volleyball action in the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion. UCLA leads the Pac-12 in hitting percentage (.299) and ranks second in kills (14.77) and assists (13.82). The Bruins are led by a pair of senior outside hitters. Tabi Love is second in the Pac-12 in points (4.93) and third in kills (4.55), while Rachael Kidder ranks ninth with 3.94 kills and 4.43 points per set. Sophomore Zoe Nightingale is fifth in the Pac-12 with 1.35 blocks per set.
THE SERIES WITH THE BRUINS:
The Cardinal holds a 42-35 edge in the all-time series with the Bruins. In the first meeting between the squads this season, Stanford outlasted UCLA in a five-set thriller at Maples Pavilion. Freshman Jordan Burgess
led the team with 19 kills and 19 digs, while sophomore Kyle Gilbert
collected a career high 25 digs.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Cardinal wraps-up Pac-12 play next week, playing host to Colorado on Wednesday, Nov. 21 and travelling to Cal on Friday, Nov. 23. Both matches are scheduled for 8 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can catch this week’s matches online at Pac-12.com. KZSU radio will also be broadcasting both matches at 90.1 FM or online at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/.
SOCIAL NETWORKING: Become a fan of the Cardinal on Facebook by searching for the “Stanford Women’s Volleyball” page. Follow the Cardinal on Twitter @StanfordWVB to get updates on the team this season. Both sites will be updated live during matches this year and will feature unique content on the team.
UNANIMOUS NO. 1: Stanford, receiving all 60 first-place votes in the coaches’ poll, is the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation for the second straight week. The Cardinal is the only squad to receive all 60 first-place votes this season. Stanford has now been ranked No. 1 54 times in school history, the fourth-best mark in the nation behind Nebraska, Penn State and UCLA.
HOWARD HONORED AGAIN: Freshman Brittany Howard nabbed Pac-12 Defensive and Freshman of the Week honors on Nov. 12. The rookie posted two double-doubles and averaged 3.14 kills and 6.14 digs in wins over Washington State (11/7) and then-No. 5 Washington (11/8). Howard’s 31 digs against the Huskies tied for the third-most in school history and were the most by a non-libero in the Pac-12 this season.
CONFERENCE RACE: After knocking off Washington State and then-No. 5 Washington at home last week, the Cardinal remains in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 title race. Stanford (16-0) holds a three-match lead over second-place Oregon and a four-match lead over USC and UCLA. Picking up just one win this week would guarantee Stanford at least a share of the conference crown. The Cardinal is seeking its 18th conference championship, including its 15th in the Pac-12.
20-WIN SEASONS: Stanford has reached the 20-win plateau in each of head coach John Dunning’s 12 seasons on The Farm. It is the longest such streak in program history dating back to 1976.
WINNING STREAK: The Cardinal has won 22 straight matches, dating back to a four-set win over then-No. 18 Florida on Sept. 1. It marks the longest winning streak since the 2001-2002 seasons. Stanford won 27 in a row over two seasons, including the 2001 NCAA title. This year’s 22-in-a-row is the longest in a single season under head coach John Dunning.
HOT START: Stanford is 16-0 overall in the Pac-12, its best start in confernce play dating back to the 1998 season under head coach Don Shaw. That year, the Cardinal, playing in an 18-match conference season, won its first 17 Pac-10 matches before falling at USC in the conference finale.
ROAD SWEEPS: Stanford’s 3-0 wins at Oregon State and then-No. 2 Oregon were the first road sweeps of the season for the Cardinal. Of its true road matches this year, four of its eight wins have come in four sets and two have come in five sets.
HOME SWEET HOME: Stanford is a perfect 13-0 at Maples Pavilion this season. Its last loss on its home court came on Nov. 25, 2011, a four-set loss to rival California. The Cardinal is 63-8 in Maples Pavilion over the last five seasons.
FINDING A WAY: The 2012 squad has found a way to grind it out and win tough matches, especially in the month of October. Four of Stanford’s matches went to five sets, including against Oregon, UCLA and Washington, and the Cardinal found a way to come out on top of all of them. Overall, Stanford is 4-1 in five-set matches this season, compared to 1-3 in five-set matches in 2011.
RPI: The Cardinal remained at No. 1 in the latest RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) poll this week, its fourth straight week in that spot. UCLA is No. 6 in this week’s RPI, while USC sits at No. 13.
NATIONAL POLL: Stanford remained in the top spot in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Top 25 for the third straight week. The Cardinal extended its winning streak to 22 with wins over Washington State and then-No. 5 Washington. Penn State, Texas, Oregon and UCLA round out the Top 5. Five Pac-12 squads are ranked in the Top 10 again this week.