Middles Lift No. 5 Stanford To Victory Over No. 14 USC

10/24/2008

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Behind phenomenal nights by Stanford's middle blockers, the Cardinal women's volleyball team won a four-set battle with No. 14 USC tonight at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. Senior All-American Foluke Akinradewo and junior Janet Okogbaa combined for 31 kills, 10 blocks and hit a combined .510 to carry Stanford to a 25-14, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21 victory.

Fifth-ranked Stanford improves to 16-3 overall and 7-1 in the Pac-10, while USC drops to 10-7 and 3-5 in the conference.

Akinradewo had perhaps her best night of the year with 19 kills on .571 hitting, and her counterpart, Okogbaa, chipped in a career high 12 kills at a .429 clip. Cynthia Barboza and Alix Klineman were both in double figures as well, turning in 11 and 10 kills, respectively.

Akinradewo led the team with six blocks, scoring the 500th of her career late in the fourth set. She is the fifth player in school history to reach the milestone, matching the feats of Laura Olesen '90 and Olympians Kim Oden `86, Bev Oden `93, and Kerri Walsh '00.

Stanford recorded a season-high 82 team digs in the four sets, with five players reaching double figures in the category. Libero Gabi Ailes and Barboza led the effort with 17 digs apiece, and setters Cassidy Lichtman (15 digs) and Joanna Evans (10 digs) each reached career highs. Klineman (10 digs) joined Barboza, Lichtman and Evans as the four Cardinal players to post double-doubles. Akinradewo contributed a career-high eight digs.

USC was led by junior Jessica Gysin's 12 kills. The Trojans also got 10 from Lauren Williams and Kimmee Roleder.

Stanford outhit its 16th opponent of the year, .245 to .156.

In the first set, Stanford broke out to a quick 5-2 lead on some early swings by Barboza. After USC reeled back to 5-4, the Cardinal answered with what proved to be the set-winning damage. A 9-2 run fueled by three Okogbaa kills allowed the Cardinal to race out to a 14-6 lead and put USC in a deep hole. Back-to-back Trojan blocks brought the home team back as close as it would come at 14-9, but Stanford responded with another destructive run. The 7-1 Cardinal stretch was capped by a kill by senior Alex Fisher, giving Stanford set point at 24-13. After one more USC point, a Trojan service error ended the lopsided set in Stanford's favor, 25-14. Okogbaa had six kills in the first set alone, and the Cardinal hit .256 to the Trojans' .047.

Stanford raced out to a 7-2 lead in the second set behind two decisive opening kills by Akinradewo. By 7-6, the Trojans had battled back within one, however, and Gysin tied the set at 10 with a kill shortly after. Stanford didn't allow the Trojans to take the lead until 18-17, when consecutive kills by freshman Alex Jupiter capped a 5-1 Trojan run. Stanford battled back out to a two-point lead on a Klineman ace at 20-18, but USC put together a vicious 6-1 run and took set point on a back-row kill by Geena Urango, 24-21. After a Trojan service error, Gysin finished off the win, 25-22. Stanford was outhit .310 to .206 in the second frame.

USC took a 4-1 lead to start the third set, but Stanford was back to tie on an Akinradewo kill at 4-4, and take the lead on a Klineman-Akinradewo block, 5-4. The Trojans took three in a row to snatch the lead back at 9-8, and by the media timeout they had extended it to 15-12. Out of the break, Akinradewo led Stanford on a 5-1 run, and the Cardinal took over the lead on a Barboza kill at 17-16. Stanford stretched its lead to two on an Akinradewo kill at 21-19, but a critical Trojan block brought the set into its ninth tie at 22. A Stanford attack sailed wide to give USC the lead at 23-22, but Klineman and Barboza ripped consecutive kills to swing the lead back in Stanford's favor, 24-23. Stanford didn't squander the chance to win, and Barboza popped her ninth kill of the night off the Trojan block for the clincher, 25-23. Stanford outhit USC .325 to .182 in the third set.

USC took the first five points of set four, but Klineman rattled off two kills to close the gap to one at 7-6. Trojan blocking and Cardinal misfires contributed to four Stanford hitting errors in a six-point span, and USC used the uncharacteristic stretch to take a 13-8 lead. Three kills by sophomore Zoe Garrett extended the Trojan advantage to 16-10, but, at that point, Stanford's middle blockers took control. Okogbaa put down her 11th kill to start a 4-0 run and Akinradewo continued it with a kill and her first of three critical set-four blocks. USC fought Stanford off briefly, but Akinradewo caught fire, picking up two blocks and a kill in a 3-0 Cardinal run that tied the set at 18. The senior then started a 5-0 Stanford run with a kill at 19-19, and Okogbaa and Lichtman finished the run with a key block at 23-19. Okogbaa notched kill No. 12 for set point at 24-20, and Erin Waller had the clinching kill, 25-21. Stanford doubled its block total with five in the final stages of the fourth set, and outhit USC .196 to .091. Akinradewo had five kills and three blocks in the final set.

Stanford heads across town on Sunday to meet No. 10 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. The match will be televised live at 12:30 p.m. by FSN and aired locally on Comcast Sports Net Bay

Article courtesy of Stanford athletics.

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