Dec. 5, 2009

The fourth-seeded Stanford women's volleyball team blanked Long Island University, 25-11, 25-15, 25-10, in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament, Friday, at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal improved to 22-7 overall, while the Blackbirds end their season with a 21-14 overall record.

Junior libero Gabi Ailes totaled 11 digs, becoming Stanford's all-time career digs leader. The Bellevue, Neb., native passed Kristin Richards (2003-06) for the top spot on the career list with 1,599 total digs. Earlier this season Ailes broke her own school record for digs in a season and currently has 575 digs on the season.

Offensively, Senior Janet Okogbaa led the team hitting .812 with 13 kills on 16 swings with no errors. Junior Cassidy Lichtman pitched in with eight kills, five assists and four digs, while junior Alix Klineman posted seven kills and four digs for the Cardinal. As a team, Stanford hit .333 and totaled 14 team blocks, one shy of its season high.

Stanford came out fired up as it opened the match with a 12-4 run, which included four kills by Okogbaa. The Cardinal extended its lead over the Blackbirds as Lichtman registered two kills and a solo block. Stanford easily defeated LIU in the first set, as it found its rhythm and took advantage of the Blackbirds' errors. Okogbaa led the way, totaling six kills on six swings, while Lichtman and Klineman pitched in with three kills apiece. Stanford hit .444 in the opening set, while holding LIU to a -.037 clip.

The Cardinal picked up right where it left off in the second set, opening up to a 7-2 advantage. Okogbaa picked up four blocks during that stretch, teaming up with Karissa Cook and Hayley Spelman for three of them. Stanford managed to take a 20-11 lead as the Blackbirds tallied nine errors. The Cardinal cruised to a 25-15 second-set win, posting nine blocks in the set. Okogbaa matched her career-high with eight blocks in the set, while Stanford earned 15 of its points on LIU attack errors.

Stanford jumped ahead once again to start the third set. Okgobaa, Lichtman and Klineman all picked up kills during that stretch. LIU cut the lead to one, but a 10-2 Cardinal run put the set out of reach for the Blackbirds. Sophomore Katherine Sebastian showed off her serving skills, putting down back-to-back aces during the run. Okogbaa tallied three kills and Lichtman picked up two more as Stanford easily captured the third set, 25-10.

Stanford will meet Saint Mary's in the second round, Saturday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. The Cardinal defeated the Gaels earlier this season, 3-1, at Maples Pavilion. Saint Mary's used a come-from-behind 3-2 win over UC Santa Barbara to advance to the second round.