Publication Date: Friday Dec 17, 1999
Walsh an All-American for the fourth timeThe only thing better for Stanford senior would be another NCAA vollyeball title this weekend
by Rick Eymer
Stanford senior Kerri Walsh put her name in the history book and freshman teammate took the first step toward joining her some day when both were named first-team All-Americans by the American Volleyball Coaches Association this week. Walsh became just the second women's volleyball player ever to earn first team All-American status four consecutive years, joining former Stanford standout Bev Oden (1989-92) in that elite group.
With that achievement accomplished, Walsh now would like nothing better than to cap off her career with a third national title in four years.
She gets her chance this weekend as Stanford competes in the NCAA Final Four at the University of Hawaii. Depending upon results in late matches Thursday, the No. 2-ranked Cardinal (30-2) could be playing either top-ranked Penn State (34-1) or No. 5 Pacific (32-2).
The last time Stanford won the national title, in 1997, the team also featured two first-team All-Americans--Lisa Sharpley and Kristin Folkl. That was also the last time a senior class won three titles in four years.
Stanford already has claimed the "Team of the 90s" title, having won four previous national titles. A fifth would only enhance that reputation.
Walsh and Tom certainly have done their part in getting the Cardinal to the Final Four for the 10th time under coach Don Shaw.
Walsh, a candidate for National Player of the Year (to be announced today), is the Pac-10 active career leader in kills (1,528), hitting percentage (.362), digs (1,268) and total blocks (495). Stanford has a record of 121-10 during her tenure.
"My team has a lot to do with my success," said Walsh. "When I first got here, I watched people like Kristin Folkl, Lisa Sharpley and Debbie Lambert every day. They knew what it took to win and were willing to work. That made it easier for me. I put a lot of trust in them."
Walsh was named MVP of the Pacific Regionals, and Tom was named to the all-tournament team.
Tom, the lone freshman on the All-American first team (and thus a candidate to follow in Walsh's footsteps), is the favorite for National Freshman of the Year. Earlier in the season, she became the first Stanford player since Walsh to earn National Player-of-the-Week honors (Oct. 25).
Tom ranks first on the team and second in the Pac-10 in kills (4.56 kpg) as well as service aces (0.45 sapg). She's second on the team (to Walsh's 3.16) in digs (2.65 dpg).
Walsh and Tom were both invited to try out for the U.S. National Team.
Stanford takes a 19-match winning streak into the tournament, and has an all-time record of 37-25 against teams competing in the Final Four, including an 11-1 edge over first-round opponent Long Beach State.
The Cardinal is 24-22 (3-1 in the NCAA tournament) against Pacific and 2-2 against Penn State.
Troy Walters became Stanford's first consensus first-team All-American in eight years when he was so honored this week.
Walters, who won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver, became the all-time Pac-10 leader in career receptions (245) and receiving yards (3,995).
Walters hopes to add to those totals when the No. 22 ranked Cardinal meets No. 4 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
In years past, Walters would hang around the Minnesota Vikings camp (his father Trent is an assistant coach with the NFL team) and pick up pointers from receivers like Randy Moss and Cris Carter.
"I'd go out and catch balls and hope to get better," said Walters. "Now it's little things, techniques. I'm picking things because they know what it takes to get to the next level."
Stanford faces its next big challenge Tuesday at the Pete Newell Challenge when the Cardinal (6-0 entering play Thursday) take on Mississippi State at 6 p.m. at The Arena in Oakland.
Stanford, which hosts Sacramento State on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., is currently ranked second in the nation, its highest ranking ever.
The Pete Newell Challenge also features No. 22 Gonzaga, which eliminated Stanford from the NCAA tournament last year, meeting California at 8:30 p.m.
While honoring the great tradition of women's basketball at Stanford the past 25 years on Saturday, the current crop of players will be trying to get back to .500 when the Cardinal take on Western Michigan at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Stanford enters the game with a 2-3 record after dropping a 69-41 decision to host St. Joseph's on Tuesday.
The first of five posters, drawn by Stanford senior Drue Kataoka, will feature Kate Starbird and her single-game scoring record of 44 points. Jennifer Azzi, Molly Goodenbour, Sonja Henning and Jamila Wideman will also be featured in the series.
"Bird Soars to Record Heights" will be available at Saturday's game for $25, with proceeds benefitting the player's scholarship fund.
Meanwhile, Stanford will try to get backon track following a three-game losing streak.
The Cardinal, after taking an 11-2 lead against St. Joseph's, couldn't get much else going the rest of the game. The Hawks (7-1) took 20 more shots than Stanford and outrebounded the Cardinal 38-23. Stanford didn't get many second chances, and losing the ball 17 times compounded the problem. St. Joseph's committed just five turnovers.
"St. Joseph's executed extremely well," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. "The game snowballed and just got away from us."
It was Stanford's lowest point total in VanDerveer's tenure as coach.
Sarah Dimson led Stanford with 10 points and six rebounds. Freshman Jamie Carey also scored 10 points.
Three members of the Stanford women's soccer team were selected to the 1999 Soccer Buzz.com All-West Region team.
Ronnie Fair was accorded first team honors, while Jen O'Sullivan was named to the second team and Marcia Wallis to the third team.
Stanford, with returning pitchers Jason Young and Justin Wayne, were picked the top-ranked team in the team according to the preseason poll of NCAA Division I coaches conducted by Collegiate baseball.
Stanford opens its 2000 season at Fresno State at Jan. 28. The Cardinal opens at home against No. 2 ranked Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 4.