Akinradewo Leads No. 3 Stanford Rout To Open Billiken Invitational


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ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Behind a phenomenal performance by defending AVCA National Player of the Year Foluke Akinradewo, the No. 3 Stanford women's volleyball team earned its second consecutive sweep tonight in its first match of the Billiken Invitational in St. Louis, Mo.

The senior stepped up with 20 kills in 24 swings, and Stanford cruised to a 25-13, 25-17, 25-13 victory over William & Mary. Stanford improves to 3-1 on the year, while the Tribe (3-1) suffered its first loss of 2008.

In addition to her match-high 20 kills and .833 hitting percentage, Akinradewo led all players with four blocks. The effort marked the first match of her career that she has recorded 20 kills in just three sets, and her best performance since turning in 26 kills against USC in last year's NCAA semifinal. Sophomore Cassidy Lichtman picked up her third double-double of the year with 24 assists and 11 digs, while libero Gabi Ailes tallied 16 digs. William & Mary was led by sophomore Erin Skipper's 10 kills. Stanford hit over .400 for the second-straight match (.444) and held the Tribe to a .071 mark.

Akinradewo pounded five kills on her first trip through the front row, and quickly put Stanford on top in the first set. Back-to-back swings by the senior gave the Cardinal an 8-2 lead, and her solo block a few points later made it 10-4. Senior Cynthia Barboza recorded two kills and a block in a four-point Stanford spurt to push the lead to 15-7, and an error by the Tribe gave the Cardinal its first double-digit lead at 19-9. Akinradewo returned to the front row and rattled off two more kills, and freshman Katherine Knox put an ace in the back corner on her first collegiate serve to make it 22-12.The Cardinal took set point on a William & Mary hitting error, before Barboza finally put the game away, 25-13, with her third kill of the set. Akinradewo went a perfect 7-for-7 (1.000) in the opening set, helping the Cardinal outhit the Tribe .448 to .111.

Stanford took eight of the first nine points of set two, thanks to three consecutive Cardinal blocks and two more hard swings by Akinradewo. From there, the Stanford lead held, with the Cardinal building it to as much as eight on a block by Alex Fisher and Janet Okogbaa at 15-7 and a kill by Akinradewo at 17-9. William & Mary managed to trim the lead to five three times late, but at 23-17 Akinradewo took over and rattled off back-to-back kills to finish the set, 25-17. By the end of set two, Akinradewo was a pristine 15-for-15 and had put up three of her four blocks. Stanford outhit William & Mary .407 to .031 in the second set.

In the final set, Ailes served two consecutive aces to lead a 6-1 opening Cardinal run. William & Mary fought back, coming within two at 9-7 and 10-8, but was no match for the Cardinal rally that followed. A Tribe service error began a 13-2 Stanford run that blew the set open and gave Stanford a 23-10 lead. Fisher put down two kills in the run, while Akinradewo had a block and added two more kills to her impressive tally. The senior middle blocker added one more to give Stanford set point at 24-13, and a Tribe swing sailed out of bounds to end the set on the next point, 25-13. Stanford once again had a decisive edge in the hitting column, .480 to .067.

Stanford plays two more matches at the Billiken Invitational tomorrow to conclude its 11-day, six-match road trip. The No. 3 Cardinal will face No. 19 Illinois at 1 p.m. (CT), then battles host Saint Louis at 7 p.m. (CT).

Article courtesy of Stanford athletics.

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