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November 24, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Big upset helps women's NCAA volleyball bid Big upset helps women's NCAA volleyball bid (November 24, 2004)

by Rick Eymer

By the time senior middle blocker Jennifer Hucke knew what she had done, the rest of her Stanford women's volleyball teammates mobbed her in the middle of the Burnham Pavilion court last Thursday night.

Hucke's service ace ended one of Stanford's most memorable women's volleyball matches ever as the ninth-ranked Cardinal stunned top-ranked and previously unbeaten Washington, 28-30, 11-30, 30-27, 34-32, 20-18, in front of a vocal sellout crowd.

Stanford followed that with a 30-19, 30-22, 30-22 victory over Washington State on Friday and heads into the final week of Pac-10 play knowing it will finish no worse than third, and could still enhance its chances at hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

"We just beat the No. 1 team," Stanford sophomore outside hitter Kristin Richards said. "I can't believe it. We're on a high and we're going to keep going. Nothing will stop us."

Stanford (13-3 in the Pac-10, 21-6 overall) has probably earned the right to host the early rounds, but the question of facility availability remains.

When the season began, the Cardinal figured there was no chance to host since the refurbishing of Maples Pavilion was scheduled to be completed in January.

With the project ahead of schedule, Stanford put in a bid to host. The official opening was expected to be Dec. 10 when the women's basketball team host Pepperdine.

"We feel the people who have worked on Maples have done an amazing job to try and get it ready for our event," Stanford coach John Dunning said. "We have nothing but thanks for everybody. Right now it's doubtful. We're working on a tight deadline."

Stanford is also investigating the possibility of using the 1,441-seat Burnham Pavilion for the tournament.

"We can guarantee a certain amount of income," Dunning said. "But there's also the question of quality of the facility."

Meanwhile there's still the matter of finishing the Pac-10 schedule. The Cardinal travel to Arizona State on Friday and Arizona on Saturday, both at 7 p.m.

"We're heading in the right direction," Dunning said. "We had a great month beating UCLA, USC and Washington. That string, for us, is tremendous."

Since a two-game losing streak which ended October, the Cardinal have been unstoppable, winning six straight entering Tuesday's match against Santa Clara. Stanford also ended its three-match losing streak to the Huskies.

"We've always believed in ourselves and our practices have been competitive," said Stanford senior Ogonna Nnamani, who recorded a career high 37 kills against Washington. "We always feel prepared and now our confidence has sky rocketed."

Richards had 19 kills and 13 digs in the win over Washington State. Nnamani added 20 kills, and has 2,234 for her career. She needs 22 to become the Pac-10 all-time leader. Bryn Kehoe added 44 assists, three service aces and 11 digs.

"We took a huge step to where we want to go," Richards said. "I am so proud of this team. We can go places."

Cross country

The nationally No. 1-ranked women's team and No. 2 men's squad turned in their worst performances at the NCAA Division I Championships in nearly a decade by finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in Monday's collegiate finals in Terre Haute, Ind.

The women scored 175 points to trail Colorado (63), Duke (144), Providence (164) and Notre Dame (170). The men's team scored 269 points to finish sixth behind Colorado (90), Wisconsin (94), Arkansas (202), Butler (243) and Brigham Young (267).

The finishes were the lowest by Stanford since the men took fifth and the women ninth in 1995. The Cardinal men won by 150 points in 2003 while the women won by 24 points.

Cardinal senior Alicia Craig, who finished sixth a year ago while helping Stanford win the team title, was 26th overall on Monday in 21:03 over the muddy 6,000-meter Laverne Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.

"We didn't perform the way we expected to," admitted Craig. "Things didn't seem together for us, but we're not discouraged. We just need to regain focus and figure out what went wrong today."

Stanford senior Sara Bei, who finished third in last year's race, was held out due an injury and may receive a medical redshirt for next season. Sophomore Arianna Lambie, 24th last season, was redshirted this season.

In the men's 10,000-meter race, redshirt freshman Nef Araia led the Cardinal with an eight-place finish in 31:04.5. Senior Ryan Hall was 26th in 31:34.9 after winning the NCAA West Regional crown a week ago.

"We had an average day and in tough conditions like today, you have to be at the top of your game," said Stanford men's coach Andy Gerard. "We're an inexperienced team and that lack of experience really showed today."

Men's water polo

Stanford dropped a 6-5 decision to host California in the Big Splash on Saturday.

While the Cardinal (19-4) won't retain the Steve Heaston trophy, they still have a chance to win the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament which begins at Stanford on Friday.

Stanford meets Pepperdine in the first round at 5 p.m., the third of four matches. The championship match is scheduled for Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Tony Azevedo scored three goals to lead the Cardinal against Cal.

Men's swimming

Stanford won the UC Irvine Speedo Cup in Long Beach with 1,595 points. UC San Diego was second with 1,0491/2 points.

Cardinal sophomore Hongzhe Sun was named Swimmer of the Meet.

Sun won the 200 back in 1:43.44, the 200 IM in 1:47.39, and the 100 back in 47.72.

Women's swimming

Stanford won the Speedo Cup despite not competing in the finals session Saturday on the last day of the three-day event hosted by UC Irvine at the Belmont Plaza Pool.

The Cardinal finished with 1,2111/2 points to defeat defending champion Oregon State, which finished with 1,122.

Stanford freshman Caroline Bruce was named the Swimmer of the Meet, winning the 100 breast and 200 IM.

"It bodes well both for the future of our program and for this year to have our freshmen performing so well," said Stanford head coach Richard Quick. "We know the veterans are going to be there and do a good job when we get to the NCAA level, but to also have three freshman stepping up it means you're moving in the right direction."


Stanford opened its dual meet season losing to host Cal State Fullerton, 23-14, on Saturday.

Stanford won four of the matches. Defending NCAA champion Matt Gentry won a major decision over Angelo Lago, 8-0, in the 157-pound weight division. Nathan Peterson (125) beat Jesse Miramontes, 7-5, Josh Zupancic (149) edged Jeff Silva, 8-7, and Ian Bork (197) won a 17-3 major decision over Charlie Walz.

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