Musings from Maples: WVB vs. California

Stanford defeated Cal in an exciting final match of the regular season at Maples on Friday night to clinch outright its second straight Pac-10 championship. 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

California Starters

OH – Angie Pressey
OH – Hana Cutura
MB – Ellen Orchard
MB – Kat Reilly
S – Carli Lloyd
OPP – Morgan Beck
L – Kristen Kathan

Stanford defeats California, 3-2 (30-32, 30-19, 23-30, 30-22, 16-14)

•  Before tonight's season-ending match pitting Bay Area rivals Stanford and California against one another, several seniors were honored. KZSU color commentator and play-by-play announcer Rebecca Harlow was presented with a bouquet of roses by head coach John Dunning and associate head coach Denise Corlett for her four years of hard work and dedication, bringing Stanford Volleyball alive for fans everywhere. Golden Bears Angie Pressey and Ellen Orchard were given yellow rose bouquets by the Cardinal coaching staff prior to honoring their own seniors, middle blocker Franci Girard and setter Bryn Kehoe. Girard, an International Relations major was accompanied on the court by her mother Jennifer Berkeley and aunt Celete Dixon and Miss Ned and was handed flowers from the coaching staff and juniors Cynthia Barboza, Alex Fisher, and Jessica Fishburn. Kehoe, a Communications major, joined Girard with her parents, Amy and Steve, along with her brothers Steven and Seth, with juniors Foluke Akinradewo and Erin Waller bringing her flowers along with Dunning and Corlett.

•  Senior Day is usually an emotional time for the players, but the Cardinal showed that they were able to focus on the task ahead, which was to earn the Pac-10 Championship outright. With Washington falling to USC last weekend, Stanford controlled its own destiny and with a win over California, the conference crown would be theirs for the taking. Getting off to a good start, Alix Klineman left off where she started against the Golden Bears, pounding down six kills en route to a 28-22 Cardinal lead; the last time the two teams played, she posted 22 kills on a .415 clip. However, things got tight when Klineman was unable to put the ball away and Cal's Hana Cutura got hot. Kehoe made the mistake of continually going back to Klineman, and the freshman's inability to score points hurt Stanford. Cutura ended up powering her team on a 10-2 run to take the opening stanza 32-30 thanks to five kills and a combined block with Kat Reilly on Klineman. The other notable statistic? Akinradewo, who leads the nation in hitting percentage, was only set four times during the entire game. One of the times Kehoe set Akinradewo turned during Cal's run turned out to be a missed connection, as the set was too high and Barboza had to come in and bump the ball over on the mistimed attempt.

•  Kehoe learned from her mistake in the opening moments of the second game, setting Akinradewo every chance she got, as the Cardinal's first three points came off of kills out of the middle from the two-time All-American. In the end, Akinradewo tied Barboza for team high honors in kills, with 20 on a .436 hitting percentage. The 6'3" middle also contributed a match-high three aces, tied with Girard and Orchard.

•  Klineman ended up struggling mightily throughout the match. After the first game, where she collected six kills, the 6'5" outside hitter did not see the ball go down until late in the second game when her roll shot made it 24-15; she finished the night with 16 kills with eight errors on 47 swings for a .170 hitting percentage. Throughout the match, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year frontrunner was inconsistent due to a tough California defense, but she ended up coming through for her teammates when it counted the most. On the Golden Bear's match point with a 14-13 advantage in the fifth game, Klineman ripped the ball crosscourt to tie things up. She then calmly went behind the service line and served two tough jump serves to give her team a chance at victory. Even when she isn't performing her best, Klineman just finds a way to come up with the goods.

•  Game Five was an all-out battle between the two conference rivals, as they each matched each other point for point. California hit .455 for 11 kills while Stanford managed 13 kills on a .423 clip. It was high-octane volleyball at its best, with neither team backing down and basically going for it on every swing. That's why it's so ironic that the match ended on a defensive effort made by Girard and opposite Erin Waller. California's Angie Pressey was set the ball on the left side and took a big swing... only to have the ball come back in her face thanks to the wall put up by Girard and Waller. Incidentally, it was the Golden Bear's first and only attack error of the final stanza.

•  Waller has been talked about quite a lot in "Musings From Maples," but there's a big reason for it – her play towards the end of the season has been absolutely fantastic. The 6'1" right-side attacker had another stellar stat line against the Golden Bears, putting away 12 kills on a .455 rate and recording three digs and two blocks. Erin "Winner," as nicknamed her after she was named its national player of the year as high school star, showed why she earned that nickname in the final stanza after going 3-for-5, with her final kill tying up the match at 13 all.

•  Despite a few service breakdowns, Barboza had a great match for Stanford, coming up with some clutch kills from all over the court. Whether it was from the front row or back row, the 6'1" outside hitter was virtually unstoppable in the last two games, recording nine kills on a .421 hitting percentage. The 2006 AVCA First Team All-American completed the match with 20 kills, a .292 clip, 11 digs, and one block.

•  Cutura was clutch for California head coach Rich Feller, pounding down a career-high 29 kills on a .339 hitting percentage. She was especially dominant in Games 1 and 5, notching a combined 12 kills and a .611 clip. She was able to easily elevate herself over the Cardinal block for a point, or find the seam for the easy kill. Pressey was also impressive on the left side after recording a double-double of 21 kills and 11 digs.

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