The Stanford and Florida women's tennis programs are intertwined throughout NCAA history. It's as deep and respected rivalry as the Cardinal has outside the Pac-12 Conference.
The two programs have combined for 21 national championships, nine times meeting each other in the title match dating to 1988. Stanford has won six of those meetings and it's always been one of the fiercest matches for either team.
No. 5 Florida visits No. 3 Stanford for a noon showdown Sunday at Taube Tennis Center. Not many nonconference matches will draw large crowds like this one.
Stanford beat the Gators, 4-3, in last year's semifinal match en route to the NCAA title but Florida beat the Cardinal in 2011, at Taube Tennis Center, to end Stanford's 184-match home winning streak and win the national title.
Of course, Stanford beat the Gators in Athens, Ga., to win the national title in 2010. Mallory Burdette, as a freshman, provided the clinching point for the Cardinal.
"The match was intense, as all Florida matches are," Burdette said via Google Talk from Holland. "I was nervous, playing for the national title. There was a lot riding on that match. It's still one of the most amazing days of my career."
Earlier in 2011, then-freshman Kristie Ahn got her first taste of the rivalry when she was part of a Stanford team that beat Florida at the National Indoor Team Tennis Championships.
"I didn't really understand the rivalry then," Ahn said. "I thought it was just another team. As the year went on, though, I found out about it."
Ahn, named the national Freshman of the Year, missed the title match because of injuries. The next year she made her season debut against Florida, playing her friend Alex Cercone and helping Stanford beat the top-ranked Gators in February.
Ahn, plagued by injuries, missed most of her sophomore season as well, returning for the NCAA quarterfinal loss to USC.
Earlier last year, Stanford lost in its first trip to Florida in 20 years.
"After that match none of us were too disappointed," Ahn said. "We knew we would probably play them again in the NCAAs."
Stanford became the lowest seeded team to win a national title. The Cardinal was seeded No. 12 and took a tough road to the top.
After winning its first two NCAA matches at home, Stanford beat No. 5 USC, 4-3, No. 4 Georgia, 4-1, No. 1 Florida, 4-3, and No. 3 Texas A&M, 4-3, with Ahn recording the clinching win at Illinois.
Stanford (6-0 after Thursday's 5-2 win over St. Mary's) and Florida (7-1) each have two players ranked in the top 25. Ahn is ranked fifth and freshman Taylor Davidson is at No. 25.
Florida's Olivia Janowicz is ranked 11th and Brianna Morgan is ranked 14th. Cerone is ranked 29th, Sofie Oyen is at No. 31, Kourtney Keegan ranks 34th and Belinda Woolcock is 38th.
Also for Stanford, Ellen Tsay is No. 32, Caroline Doyle is No. 49, and Carol Zhao is No. 49.
No. 5 Stanford (24-2, 13-1 in the Pac-12) makes its final road trip of the regular season this weekend, heading to Los Angeles for matchups at USC and UCLA.
The Cardinal opens the trip Friday at USC, taking on the Trojans at 6 p.m., a game televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
The Cardinal completed a home sweep of the Arizona schools on Sunday, defeating Arizona 74-48 behind a 13-for-22 performance by the team from 3-point range. Bonnie Samuelson led the way with five of those triples and 17 points.
Stanford's starters were able to enjoy light days, as none played more than 24 minutes. Senior Chiney Ogwumike played a season-low 22 minutes but still managed 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting and nine rebounds, while Amber Orrange scored nine points with nine assists.
USC (16-10, 9-5 Pac-12) has lost four of its past six entering Friday, a stretch that began with Jan. 27's 86-59 loss at Stanford. The Cardinal is 52-19 all-time against USC, and has won 13 in a row against the Trojans.
Fresh off a big home victory over No. 4 Utah, No. 12 Stanford (12-1) heads to No. 9 UCLA (4-2) for an important Pac-12 meet on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Kristina Vaculik continued to shine in the all-around, picking up the individual victory with a 39.475 in the win over the Utes.
Vaculik punctuated the Cardinal's win with a collegiate-best 9.950 on floor in the anchor position to close the competition.
No. 14 Stanford (1-0) hosts Harvard Saturday at 1 p.m. in a nonconference game. Rachel Ozer scored four goals in the Cardinal's season-opening 11-9 win over Ohio State last weekend.
No. 13 Stanford (12-0) looks to extend its season-opening winning streak when it heads to the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City this weekend. The Cardinal, off to its best start in six years, plays Maryland and Baylor on Friday.
Freshman pitcher Madi Schreyer (9-0) earned the victory Tuesday's 10-1 win over UC Davis. Cassandra Roulund drove in three against the Aggies and leads the team with 16 RBI.
Nationally No. 4 Stanford will put its 7-0 dual-meet record on the line Saturday when it plays host to No. 2 Cal (7-0 in the annual Big Splash in Avery Aquatic Center at 11 a.m. The meet will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.
Prior to the meet, the Cardinal will pay tribute to its seven-person senior class, which will be competing in its final home event.
David Nolan leads the Cardinal in the pool with the nation's No. 3 time of 46.12 in the 100 back. Diver Kristian Ipsen also will play a key role against the Bears, who come in with faster relays in all five events.
After having two nonconference matches canceled last weekend, Stanford (3-1) gets a chance to return to action Saturday with a match against visiting No. 9 California at 1 p.m. Stanford has not played since beating Hawaii, 7-0, on Jan. 29.
Stanford looks to get back on track Friday night with a home match against UC Santa Barbara in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation action at 7 p.m.
The Cardinal (8-5, 5-5 in the MPSF) dropped a tough five-setter to visiting BYU last weekend. Brian Cook had 20 kills in the loss.
Women's water polo
No. 2 Stanford (7-0) is back in the pool this weekend, competing at the UC Irvine Invitational Saturday and Sunday.
Stanford's Annika Dries was named MPSF Player of the Week after recording 12 golas in three wins last week.