San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Cardinal Dreams

ByJoel SartanSenior Staff Writer

Stanford freshman Ogonna Nnamani said she had a dream aboutwinning the national title. In front of 10,067 fans, it came true asher team swept previously undefeated Long Beach State, 31-29, 30-28,30-25.

“I didn’t tell anyone (about my dream),” Nnamani said. “If youtell your dreams, they might not come true. Now I’m confessing. It’sgreat. My dream came true.”

But probably not even in her wildest dreams could she haveimagined the level of domination.

The 49ers (33-1) were one win away from completing one of the mostdomineering seasons in NCAA history. In 33 matches, LBSU dropped onlysix sets total. None came in the tournament, as the 49ers swept fivestraight matches.

Undaunted, Stanford (33-2) took it right to the opposition. Midwaythrough the first set, LBSU found itself in a position it hadn’tfaced all year — playing from behind, as the Cardinal jumped out toa 20-14 lead.

“We didn’t know how they’d react if they lost game one,” Stanfordcoach John Dunning said. “Maybe that was a motivation for the groupto go out and make sure we got that one.”

Butthe 49ers weren’t about to roll over. After taking nine of the next11 points to take the lead, LBSU continued its run to get up 29-27.

Enter Logan Tom.

The three-time All-American and 2000 Olympian, already with eightkills and two blocks in the set, combined on a block to keep theCardinal alive. She killed two of the next three points to seal thefirst game.

“We’ve been in that situation before (playing from behind),”middle blocker Tayyiba Haneef said. “We had runs of four or fivepoints at a time, but weren’t able to finish it.”

The answer to Dunning’s question of how the 49ers would react wasanswered soon enough in the second frame — frustrated.

“The players wanted to do so much and they lost discipline,” coachBrian Gimmellaro said. “They just overdid it.”

A prime example was the end of the second set. Led by nine killsfrom Tom and seven by Nnamani, LBSU again found itself trailing,23-29. From there, however, the 49ers rolled off five straight pointsto bring the score within one.

But setter Keri Nishimoto’s serve for the tie sailed long, givingStanford a commanding two-games-to-none lead.

From the outset, Stanford was in command of game three. Again, itwas Tom leading the charge — not so much with her offense as withtough serving and defense.

Again trailing 21-23, the 49ers looked to

their big gun, Haneef, to get back into the match. A tremendousdig by Tom kept a rally alive, allowing Stanford to score on aNnamani kill.

Now leading 24-21, Tom’s jump serve nicked the tape, but droppedin front of the 49ers defense for an ace. Two points later, Tom dugHaneef twice, leading to a LBSU hitting error.

“I thought we were still in the match,” Gimmellaro said. “WhenLogan hit that serve that fell over the net, then got a couple tipsto fall in, it was pretty tough.”

It was Tom that closed out the match, combining with Sara McGee ona block to take the crown.

Gimmellaro said the difference in the match was the attackingstrategies.

“They set outside to their fast players, taking advantage of ourweaker block,” he said. “That was a worthwhile plan. They set intothe weakness of our block and we set into the strength of theirblock.”

But the 49ers were never able to find a groove offensively becauseof the Cardinal’s ferocity at the service line.

“Except for a streak in game one (seven service errors), we servedvery well, which affects their offense and allows our block to have abig effect on the game,” Dunning said.

The LBSU offense, which was the most efficient in the country thisyear, hitting at a .364 clip, was held to .198.

Whatever the case, when all was said and done, there was noquestion which team lived the dream season.

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Cardinal Dreams