Musings from Maples: WVB vs. Arizona State

Stanford swept Arizona State at Maples on Friday night. Above and beyond a simple recap of Women's Volleyball matches, we present some insightful observations, opinions and notes from the floor of Maples Pavilion.

Stanford Starters

OH – Alix Klineman
OH – Cynthia Barboza
MB – Foluke Akinradewo
MB – Franci Girard
S – Bryn Kehoe
OPP – Erin Waller/Cassidy Lichtman
L – Gabi Ailes

Arizona State Starters

OH – Sarah Reaves
OH – Margie Giordano
MB – Sara Todorovich
MB – Staci Smith
S – Marina Mercer
OPP – Alison Lund/Danielle Fernandes
L – Sydney Donahue

Stanford defeats Arizona State, 3-0 (30-27, 30-24, 30-14)

•  Ever since Stanford's loss to Washington at home in mid-October, teams have tried their luck at targeting outside hitter Cynthia Barboza in hopes of tiring her out and getting inside her head and tonight was no exception. It is becoming more and more apparent that the team's chances rest on Barboza's passing and whether or not she can consistently deliver the ball to setter Bryn Kehoe. Arizona State zoned in on Barboza for much of the first game and her inconsistent passing enabled the Sun Devils to make it a close game, owning a four-point lead midway through the stanza. However, the junior's ball control improved as the match went on and Stanford cruised in the third game.

•  Barboza wasn't the only one who had serve receive problems, as freshman libero Gabi Ailes had the most serve receive errors of the night, finishing with four. Stanford has many great offensive weapons at its disposal, but will need great passing from Barboza and Ailes to fully utilize them. In fact, the prediction here is that if the duo can pass nails on a majority of the serves throughout the tournament, there isn't one team in the country that will be able to contain the likes of Barboza, Alix Klineman, Foluke Akinradewo, Franci Girard, or Erin Waller.

•  For the most part, Stanford played really good floor defense. Bodies were flying everywhere to ensure that the ball did not drop to the floor and the crowd at Maples Pavilion acknowledged every scrambling, hustle play with loud cheers and whistles. However, for every great rally that showcased the Cardinal's heart and determination, there were the miscommunication plays that must have frustrated head coach John Dunning to no end. Both Kehoe and Ailes had amazing digs off of hard-hitting Arizona State attacks, only to watch the ball fall to the floor as their teammates stood around, waiting for someone else to make the play. Luckily, those types of lapses in concentration were few and far between, though it is a bit concerning that these plays are occurring this late in the season.

•  With the Cardinal's serve receive not up to par in the first game, Klineman's bombs from the outside kept her team in the game. The 6'5" left-side attacker coasted to seven kills on a .429 hitting percentage, including the final point of the stanza. Klineman finished with a match-high 16 kills on a .419 clip, in addition to eight digs and three blocks.

•  Two of Klineman's kills were straight down – one down the line and one sharp cross-court, completely going over the block. Tonight, USC's Asia Kaczor used all 6'5" of her to garner a career-high 43 kills in a five-game victory over Washington and with the proper weight training program, Klineman has the potential to put up similar numbers in the future. With her height and athleticism, Klineman could be considered one of the most, if not the best, attackers in NCAA history by the time she is done on The Farm in 2010.

•  Akinradewo and Kehoe have the best connection in the country among setter and hitter, hands down. Leading the nation with a .485 hitting percentage, Akinradewo is automatic on a good pass and even if the ball is not spot on, it's a good chance that she'll put it away anyway. Even in transition, when the timing between hitter and setter is the most difficult, the two-time All-American hammers the ball with authority that just leaves the opposing coaches shaking their head in amazement. Akinradewo ended the night with 13 kills, a .647 hitting percentage, three blocks, and two digs.

•  Erin Waller has certainly picked up her game as of late, averaging 2.53 kills per game at a .394 clip over the past eight matches; in fact, the last time she hit under .300 was against Arizona on October 18th. Tonight against the Sun Devils, the junior opposite torched their defense with 11 kills at a .435 rate; She also tied a season-high five blocks and two aces in the winning effort.

•  The last time these two teams met, freshman outside hitter Sarah Reaves did not play against Stanford, as she sprained her ankle the night before against California. Losing Reaves' 5.08 kills per game hurt the Sun Devils and they failed to score more than 21 points in three games. This time around, Stanford still swept Arizona State, but the games were kept close thanks to Reaves' offensive output, as she led her squad with 10 kills.

•  Sydney Donahue, the niece of Stanford Associate Head Coach Denise Corlett, is flat out one of the best liberos in the country. She is a great passer and an even better defender, getting in perfect position every time a Cardinal player took a crack at the ball. Her fiery personality makes her the heart and soul of the team and one of the leaders out on the court for head coach Brad Saindon. Currently, the 5'7" senior owns the school and Pac-10 record for digs with 2308 and is sixth all-time in NCAA history. Tonight at Maples Pavilion, she racked up a team-high 15 digs.

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