John Dunning on Epic Alix Klineman Signing

This is a historic day for Stanford Athletics. The Women's Volleyball program signed arguably the top recruit in the sport's history, 6'4" outside hitter Alix Klineman from Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Mira Costa HS. The Cardinal coup came on a dramatic final day of the fall signing period. We caught up with smiling head coach John Dunning just two hours later as he boarded the team bus for Oregon.

After signing some sensational talents already the last couple years, what role will this 2007 class play for Stanford?

"Well, I think they have the potential to make a mark.  Cassidy Lichtman is a very fine all-around player from San Diego and one of the best in the area down there in years.  Stephanie Brown is a very physical, well-trained 6'5" middle from this area now, and we're very excited to have her.  Then, you sign one of what everybody will say, prior to starting college, one of the top recruits of all-time in Alix Klineman because she is very gifted physically, very skilled and has a huge amount of experience.  She has won a lot when she has played.  It's not an overstatement at all to say that this class could have a big impact."

Some people talk about Alix and Kerri Walsh in the same breath - how good they are coming out of high school.  You probably saw Kerri in high school then.  How are they similar, how are they different?

"You know, they are actually a lot different.  Both of them are pretty tall and lanky, that's for sure.  They're similar in that they have won a lot and played a lot.  They have good skills.  I think that in a lot of other ways, they are different and don't play the same.  In terms of what they both could potentially do, there is probably a lot of similarity there."

This is the last day of the signing period.  Normally you have your class wrapped up a lot earlier.  What did it take for you all to land her, and for Alix to feel comfortable in being a Cardinal?

"Every player nowadays goes through this process in their own way.  I think that she knew for a long time that she could wait, if she wanted to.  We all told her that.  We weren't going to rush her.  All the schools told her that, so no one was trying to force their way in her door and give her ultimatums or anything because she was too valuable a player.  She knew that she could wait, so she waited.  Then she had to get the information she needed, and somewhere along the line, that process you go through to make a decision got delayed.  They are a very nice family, and she's a really nice young athlete.  They just had to go to this point to make up their mind.  I talked to her on Sunday, and I honestly believe that she still was in the process of making up her mind."

Can you share what the reaction was for you and Denise Corlett when you received the phone call today?

"You don't know how to take it, when someone waits a long time.  We're in new territory.  Then you wonder if you have to prepare yourself for her to go someplace else because she visited here a long time ago and she has known about Stanford for a long time.  I was prepared to deal with it either way, and I was very excited when she said yes.  As a coach, one of the great things I have a chance to do is to coach the people that we have here."

People offer so many accolades for her already.  What is her upside that you can help her reach, once she is in college working with these players and in the strength & conditioning program?

"All that helps all the players - the level at which we train in college.  They're older.  They're more mature.  They're just going to mature as people, get strong and get better.  Hopefully they stay healthy as they go through the process.  She doesn't have any health problems at this point, and that's awesome.  Hopefully she stays that way.  The more you play at a higher level, the better you get.  If she's already as good as she is this point - she plays at a very high level with her high school team.  They're great.  Her club team is great, and she gets good coaching in both.  Then she plays all summer with the Junior National program.  She gets to play a lot, train a lot and taught a lot.  But when you get to college, there are a lot of players who are very good, so you have to keep getting better.  And she will."

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