Stanford women's volleyball heads to NCAA Sweet 16 | December 7, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 7, 2012

Stanford women's volleyball heads to NCAA Sweet 16

by Rick Eymer

The nationally No. 2-ranked Stanford women's volleyball team is on a quest for a seventh national title and will head to the Berkeley Regional this weekend. The tournament's overall No. 2 seed, the Cardinal (29-3) will face No. 15 seed Iowa State (22-7) on Friday at Haas Pavilion at 7 p.m.

Should Stanford advance, it will take on either Michigan or Michigan State on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

Should the Cardinal advance past this weekend, the team will head to the Final Four, set for Dec. 13-15 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. Stanford has appeared in a nation-best 18 Final Fours.

Stanford qualified for the Berkeley Regional with a pair of wins last weekend at Maples Pavilion.

Freshman Inky Ajanaku recorded 11 kills and had a hitting percentage of .600 as Stanford downed visiting Western Kentucky, 25-15, 25-23, 25-15, in the second round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night.

"On different nights we have different combinations of three to four hitters that are on," Stanford coach John Dunning said. "Inky obviously did a really good job, blocked a lot of balls and had a lot of kills."

Dunning now looks forward to taking on Iowa State.

"They finished second in the Big 12 and are a really well-coached and tough team," said Dunning. "We know they are going to come at us and they are battle-tested. We are going to have to come out and fight with them."

Michigan (24-11) and Michigan State (23-9) meet in the Sweet 16 match. Michigan upset 10th-seeded Louisville in four sets and the Spartans knocked seventh-seeded UCLA in four sets.

In the second set against Western Kentucky, Stanford called a timeout when the Hilltoppers took a 22-21 lead.

Brittany Howard and Jordan Burgess each recorded a kill out of the timeout and Howard added a service ace to put the Cardinal on the brink. The Hilltoppers staved off one match point before Burgess ended it with a kill.

The Cardinal advanced to the Sweet Sixteen after missing out last year, dropping a second-round match to Michigan. Stanford has not been to a Final Four since losing to Penn State in the national title match in 2008.

No. 13 Washington, with freshman Melanie Wade of Palo Alto, came back to beat Hawaii in five sets, No. 5 Oregon swept Dayton and USC swept St. Mary's in matches involving other Pac-12 teams.

This year marks Stanford's 32nd consecutive NCAA postseason appearance. The Cardinal is one of only two programs in the nation to have appeared in every NCAA Tournament since the NCAA Championship began in 1981 (Penn State is the other). Stanford has won more NCAA Championships (6), made more Final Four appearances (18), competed in more national championships matches (14) and won more NCAA Tournament matches (100) than any program in the nation.

Ajanaku and Carly Wopat were selected to the 14-player AVCA All-Pacific Region team. The pair is now in contention to become 2012 All-Americans. It is Wopat's second career all-region honor. Ajanaku is the 11th Cardinal rookie to be named to an all-region team, and the first since Alix Klineman in 2007.


Stanford senior wide receiver Drew Terrell recently accepted an invitation to play in the 2013 Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game. The contest will be played Jan. 11 at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.

Established in 2011 as part of the post-BCS football events, last year's Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game featured six NFL draft picks. An additional 61 players from the 2012 roster entered NFL training camps in July.

Women's soccer

Three Stanford players were named to the NSCAA All-America team last week, including two to the first team.

Defenders Alina Garciamendez and Rachel Quon were named to the first team, and midfielder Mariah Nogueira received second team honors. All are four-year starters and tri-captains for the No. 1 Cardinal (21-2-1), which lost to North Carolina, 1-0, in overtime in the NCAA College Cup semifinals in San Diego.

This is the first All-America selection for Garciamendez and Quon, and the second for Nogueira, a third-team All-America in 2009.

This week, six Stanford were named NSCAA All-Pacific Region, including three on the first team.

Nogueira, Garciamendez, and Quon each earned first-team honors. Junior goalkeeper Emily Oliver and sophomore forward Chioma Ubogagu were second-team selections, and forward Courtney Verloo was a third-team choice.

Nogueira received her third first-team honor. For Garciamendez and Quon, it was the second for each.