Daily 49er

LBSU, Pepperdine to meet at the net in NCAA opener

49ers, Waves to play at 4:30 p.m.; Stanford, Albany slated for 7 p.m. Friday at the Maples Pavilion

Danny Lee, Assistant sports editor

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No. 24 Long Beach State 49ers (25-5)

• 2008 Big West Conference champion (first outright conference title since 2001)
• 22nd consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance
• All-time NCAA first round record: 13-5*
• Best finish: National champion (1989, 1993, 1998)

Roundup: The 49ers have not made an NCAA Regional appearance since 2001, having been bounced in the second round the last two seasons. Big West Freshman of the Year Caitlin Ledoux and outside hitter Quincy Verdin lead the team with 370 and 365 kills, respectively. Verdin, along with fellow seniors, setter Nicole Vargas and libero Iris Murray will make their final NCAA Tournament run.

No. 23 Pepperdine Waves (20-7)

• West Coast Conference at-large selection (4th place in WCC standings)
• 20th overall NCAA Tournament appearance (fourth consecutive)
• All-time NCAA first round record: 7-12
• Best finish: Elite Eight (2002)

Roundup: The Waves have qualified for 11 of the last 12 NCAA Tournaments, with the previous two being first-round exits. Outside hitter Julie Rubenstein is the team’s offensive leader with 423 kills. Pepperdine faced LBSU in the 2006 NCAA first round, falling in four sets.

Albany Great Danes (23-8)

• America East Conference champion
• 4th overall NCAA Tournament appearance
• All-time NCAA first round record: 1-2
• Best finish: NCAA second round (2007)

Roundup: The Great Danes are playing in their fourth NCAA Tournament in five years. Outside hitter Amanda Cowdrey leads the team with 370 kills and is second with 330 digs. The team won its first-ever tournament game last year against Cleveland State.

No. 2 Stanford Cardinal (26-3)

• Pacific-10 Conference champion
• 28th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance
• Have never lost an NCAA opening-round match*
• Best finish: National champion (1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2004)

Roundup: The Cardinal, along with Penn State, are the only two programs to have appeared in all 28 NCAA Tournaments. Long Beach-native Cynthia Barboza leads the team with 347 kills, to go along with 294 digs, followed by outside hitter Alix Klineman, who has 340. Libero Gabi Ailes has 417 digs on the season.

*1998 season marked the first use of current 64-team format

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