Some of the finest women volleyball players in history have put on a Stanford uniform: from Kristin Folkl to Kristin Klein; Kim Oden to Bev Oden; Kerri Walsh to Logan Tom to Ogonna Nnamani to Kristin Richards to Cynthia Barboza. All have helped put Stanford women's volleyball on the map with an NCAA-record six national titles and five national runner-up finishes.
With that said, a new group is ready to do the same. The Class of 2011, in fact, may be one of the best ever at Stanford following the signing of Alix Klineman, Cassidy Lichtman and Stephanie Browne to national letters of intent. All will join the Cardinal next fall.
"I would imagine this class will be one of the top recruiting classes in the country," Stanford coach John Dunning said. "We are obviously very happy to have these three student-athletes joining our program. But you judge a recruiting class after they graduate."
Klineman heads the class. She is one of the most highly sought-after recruits in the history of women's volleyball, leading her club teams to three silver medals at the U.S. Junior National Championships and her high school squad to the 2004 and 2005 state championships.
Currently a senior at Mira Costa High, regarded as the No. 1 team in the nation, Klineman earned the 2005 California Gatorade Player of the Year, as well as the 2004 PrepVolleyball.com Sophomore Player of the Year.
Klineman was a two-time PrepVolleyball.com All-American and the 2003 CalHi Sports Freshman State Player of the Year.
"Alix has been a key part of the Junior National Team program for many years," said Dunning. "She has international experience, and her club and high school teams have been very successful. Alix has high level skills because she works very hard and has had excellent coaching. She is one of the few players each year who can have a serious impact on the college game."
Lichtman attends Francis Parker High School in Poway and plays for the San Diego Volleyball Club. She's also a high school All-American and a finalist for national Junior of the Year honors.
"Cassidy is very well coached and has excellent skills," Dunning said. "She is one of the best players to come out of San Diego in recent years. Cassidy will be able to play in almost any position on the court, except middle blocker. One of the reasons we are so excited about Cassidy is that she has a very high volleyball IQ."
Browne hails from Danville, where she attends Monte Vista High and plays for Vision Volleyball Club. Browne has been a USA Youth and Junior National Team member and helped team to the 2004 NORCECA gold medal in Puerto Rico. Browne also guided her Vision squad to a fifth-place finish at the 2006 USA Junior Olympic Volleyball Championships.
"Stephanie has been involved in the Junior National Team program for several years," said Dunning. "She is a very experienced and physical middle blocker. Stephanie works very hard and is very serious about volleyball and improving as a player."
Women's water polo
Menlo School senior Kim Krueger signed a national letter of intent to study and play at Stanford, joining Amber Oland, Chelsea Smith-Carmichael and Allison Gerrity in the Cardinal class of 2011.
Krueger has helped Menlo to win a pair of CCS championships, and could help add another as the Knights play for the title on Saturday. She played on the U.S. Youth team that won the Junior Pan Am Championship this summer. Krueger also played for the Stanford Water Polo Club team that won Under-20 Nationals and placed second at Open Nationals this summer.
"Kim is a terrific passer, creative goal-scorer and strong defender," Stanford coach John Tanner said. "Because she plays with our club team, she is very familiar with Stanford water polo. We are very excited to add a talented and poised left-hander to this already strong recruiting class."
Stanford signed four talented high school seniors: Nick Amuchastegui (Talent, Ore.), Kyle Barrett (Las Vegas), Matt Winterbourne (Cornelius, Ore.) and Christine Cunningham (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.).
"I am very excited with our early admits," Stanford coach Kerry McCoy said. "They truly represent some of the best and brightest student-athletes in the nation. They all will bring something special to our program."
Amuchastegui won the Oregon State Championship last year after placing third in his first two years.
Barrett won a Nevada state championship after finishing seventh as a sophomore.
Winterbourne placed sixth at 189 pounds in the Oregon State Championships last year, and is poised to take the title this season as one of the top ranked wrestlers in the state.
Cunningham is considered one of the best female high school wrestlers in the country. She has placed in every major tournament in which she has competed and is in line to make the 2012 Olympic team.
"Christine will be a great asset to the program," McCoy said. "Her commitment to excellence will raise the bar in our room. She was voted the captain of her club team (both boys and girls) the last two years. She has continually faced challenges in her wrestling career and she has always risen above and come out on top."
The nationally-ranked Stanford women's gymnastics team hosts a "Meet the Team and Clinic" on Sunday from 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Ford Center, which is located adjacent to Burnham Pavilion on the Stanford University campus.
Events include a free intrasquad meet and a clinic ($40 for gymnasts 5-17). The two-hour clinic, which begins at 4 p.m. for all gymnasts (5-17 years of age), will be taught by members of the Stanford coaching staff and student-athletes. Proceeds from the clinic will benefit the Stanford women's gymnastics program.
In recruiting news, Danielle Ikoma signed a National Letter of Intent.
"We are thrilled that Danielle has chosen to join the Stanford family," said coach Kristen Smyth, who begins her sixth season at Stanford. "Danielle is undoubtedly one of the top recruits in the country and has impressed us with her outstanding leadership, competitive spirit and work ethic. She is an aggressive balance beam competitor, excellent all-around performer and is going to be a wonderful addition to our team."
Ikoma is a five-time Junior Olympic National qualifier. In 2005 at the Level 10 Nationals, she was the balance beam champion, placed second on uneven bars, second in the all-around and third on vault. Last year she won the balance beam and placed third in the All-Around.
Men's water polo
Seniors Tyler Drake, J.J. Garton and Beau Stockwill will make their final home appearances on Saturday when Stanford hosts Pacific in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match at 10 a.m.
Drake leads the fourth-ranked Cardinal (4-3, 15-7) with 33 goals this season.
Menlo School grad Jimmie Sandman currently ranks fifth in the MPSF with a 5.20 GAA and an 8.80 saves per game.
Stanford junior Arianna Lambie has been named USA Track & Field's Athlete of the Week after defending her title by winning the women's 6,000-meter race last Saturday at the NCAA West Region Cross-Country Championships in Portland, Ore.
Lambie will lead the nationally No. 1-ranked Cardinal women into the NCAA Championships on Monday in Terre Haute, Ind.
Stanford freshman Julia Smit was named a National Collegiate Swimmer of the Week by CollegeSwimming.com.
Smit recorded two NCAA automatic qualifying marks in the 400 IM (4:10.09) and 200 back (1:56.00) on the first day of a two-day tri-meet last Friday and Saturday to help lead No. 3 ranked and unbeaten Stanford (5-0) to victories over No. 4 Auburn and No. 15 Tennessee. The times she recorded in the events, which had just one event sandwiched between, made her Stanford's fourth and fifth-best all-time performer in the respective events.
Stanford hosts the Stanford Fall Invitational Tournament on Saturday at the Ford Center beginning at 10 a.m.
The tournament includes Cal, UC Santa Cruz, Pacific, and Stanford.
Alex Buscaglia, Tim Gentry and Ryan Lieberman committed to join Stanford next season as members of the class of 2011.
"The future of Stanford Gymnastics could not look better," Stanford coach Thom Glielmi said. "We've secured the top recruiting class in the country for 2007. I'm excited to have such an impressive group of individuals adding to our program."
Buscaglia qualified for the Junior Olympic National Championships the past two years and finished second on vault last year.
Gentry is a three-time national all-around champion. He has also been a member of the U.S. Junior National Team for the past two seasons and finished fourth in the all-around at the in last year's Junior Pan American Games.
Lieberman captured the individual gold medal at the 2006 Junior Pan American Games, as well as three medals on the pommel horse, parallel bar and horizontal bar competitions at the event. Lieberman is a three-time member of the U.S. Junior National Team.
Stanford signed three highly regarded recruits for next fall: Si Hwan Kim (Fullerton, CA), Steve Ziegler (Broomfield, CO) and Matt Kennerknecht (Vienna, VA) will replace the three seniors currently on the roster.
ďThese three student-athletes will definitely add a lot to the Stanford family on and off of the golf course, Stanford coach Conrad Ray said. "They possess an abundance of great leadership qualities along with the collective zeal to be successful. They will compliment an already talented team and allow us to continue building for the future.Ē
Kim and Ziegler are currently ranked in the top ten in the United States in the 2007 recruiting class and Kennerknecht is currently ranked 13th in the state of Virginia.
Stanford remained unbeaten on the west coast with its win at the Co-ed Pacific Coast Championships last weekend in Santa Barbara.
Senior Captains Brian Haines and Joanna Madsen led the team to a close victory over rivals USC and Hawaii.