No. 2 Stanford Crushes Albany In NCAA Opener

12/5/2008

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STANFORD, Calif. - The second-seeded Stanford women's volleyball team put a perfect start to the 2008 NCAA Tournament tonight, demolishing Albany at Maples Pavilion, 25-9, 25-11, 25-21.

Stanford improves to 27-3 with the win and will play Long Beach State in the second round tomorrow night. Albany, the America East Conference Champion, ends its season with a 23-9 record.

The Cardinal was led by junior middle blocker Janet Okogbaa, who matched a career high with 12 kills on a career-best .647 hitting percentage. The Tampa, Fla. native also racked up a team-high five blocks.

Sophomore Alix Klineman and senior Foluke Akinradewo also chipped in 12 kills, with Klineman adding 13 digs for her ninth double-double of the season.

Sophomore setter Cassidy Lichtman turned in 38 assists, while fellow sophomore Gabi Ailes led the Cardinal with 14 digs and reached double figures for the 11th time in the last 12 matches. The Cardinal libero also climbed into fourth place on the school's single-season dig chart (431).

Albany was led by America East Player of the Year Kamisha Kellam, who tallied seven of the team's 24 kills and hit a team-high .286.

The Cardinal outhit the Great Danes .419 to .068, marking the fifth time this season that Stanford has come in over .400. The Cardinal has now held 20 of its opponents below .200, and eight below .100.

The Cardinal's sweep was its 20th of the season. The team's NCAA Tournament win was its 88th in program history.

Stanford raced ahead quickly in the first set, taking the match's first three points to establish a lead that never disappeared. The Great Danes could only keep it close until 7-4, when Stanford jetted off on a 16-3 run that put Albany at a seemingly insurmountable deficit. Stanford had four blocks in the run, with Okogbaa and Akinradewo chipping in two apiece. Klineman added four kills and was in on the block that wrapped up the run at 23-7. Akinradewo slammed a kill for set point at 24-8 and an Albany service error ended things a point later, 25-9. Stanford held the Great Danes to a negative hitting percentage, while hitting a match-high .520. Klineman alone equaled Albany's set-one kill total with six in the opening frame. The result marked the first time since Dec. 6, 2002 that Stanford has held an NCAA Tournament opponent under 10 points, having done so last against Sacramento State (30-8) in the 2002 first round. 

After facing its only deficit of the match (3-1) in the second set, Stanford pummeled Albany with a 10-1 run. Two more Cardinal blocks and another pair of Klineman kills fueled the rally, and an Albany attacking error completed it at 12-4. Akinradewo slammed two balls in a row to the floor to increase the margin to 14-5, and after the Great Danes briefly got their bearings, Okogbaa carried Stanford on an 11-3 race to the finish. Okogbaa slammed three of her four set-two kills in the run, including one to give Stanford set point at 24-11. The winner came on a feed from Ailes to Erin Waller, giving the Cardinal a 25-11 victory and a two-set lead at the break. Akinradewo's five kills on six swings led the Cardinal to a .400 hitting percentage. The team held Albany to just four kills and another negative hitting clip.

Stanford pulled away more slowly in the third set, but nevertheless was able to establish a considerable lead. A Stanford service error pulled Albany within two at 10-8, but Akinradewo came to the front row and pounded three kills to carry a 7-1 Cardinal rally. The senior's third slam made it 17-9, and despite Albany's Kellam-led attempt to come back, Stanford made steady progress to the finish. The Cardinal took set point on a Cynthia Barboza kill at 24-19 and, after Albany cut the lead to three at 24-21, Akinradewo finished Stanford's opening round win, 25-21. Stanford hit .368, while the Great Danes came in with a positive hitting percentage for the first time all night (.275). Okogbaa and Barboza each had five kills in the final set.

Stanford advances to tomorrow's second round and will play No. 24 Long Beach State for a berth in next week's Fort Collins Regional. The match is set for 7 p.m. (PT) at Maples Pavilion.

Article courtesy of Stanford athletics.

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