By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Cassidy Lichtman and redshirt Lydia Bai carry on conversations in Chinese all the time and the rest of the team can only scratch their heads and wonder what the heck they are discussing.
When it comes to her play on the volleyball court, there's no need for a translator. Lichtman is, arguably, the most versatile player in the nation. She splits time between setter, outside hitter, and back row specialist.
"I think she's mad at me because I never let her play in the middle," Stanford coach John Dunning said. "She has blocked in the middle, but she hasn't played the position."
There's no arguing she's simply a valuable player on a team full of All-Americans.
More setter than hitter Saturday, Lichtman had 20 assists as second-ranked Stanford beat No. 17 Colorado State, 28-26, 25-13, 25-15, in the second round of the NCAA women's volleyball tournament at Maples Pavilion and will meet Ohio State (24-11) in the Sweet Sixteen in Dayton next Friday in Frericks Center.
The Buckeyes upset Dayton in five sets as the match lasted nearly two and a half hours. Indiana (23-11) and USC (27-4) will also be there, with the winners meeting next Saturday for a berth in the Final Four.
By the time Stanford reaches Dayton, the players should be finished with finals and able to concentrate on volleyball and staying relaxed.
Lichtman just finished her power-point presentation in Chinese and turned in her final paper for History of School Reform. She just has her Chinese written final and Modern Afghanistan remaining.
"The seniors got the sophomores and freshmen to pay attention to their schedules," Dunning said. "They've done a great job of getting finals over with at this time of the year. It can be exhausting after finals and there's a chance you won't play well as a result."
Alix Klineman recorded a match-high 18 kills and a hitting percentage of .400. She moved into sole possession of second place on the all-time kills list with 1,951. Only Olympian Ogonna Nnamani has more. Klineman added three solo blocks.
Sophomore Hayley Spelman and freshman Rachel Williams were big contributors to the offense, with Spelman recording nine kills and hitting .462 and Williams adding eight kills and hitting .438.
Stanford hit .330 as a team, the highest percentage against Colorado State all season. Long Beach State (.222) and Utah (.211) were the only other teams to hit better than .200 against the Rams.
"We're excited," Lichtman said.