Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - November 16, 2012

Women's water polo, hoops stock up again

Top recruits also headed to The Farm in women's swimming; Cardinal women's basketball takes on No. 1-ranked Baylor

by Rick Eymer

John Tanner and Tara VanDerveer each have a level of success that would be difficult to match. Tanner has led the Stanford women's water polo team to the past two NCAA titles and VanDerveer has led the women's basketball team to five consecutive Final Four appearances.

Talk about a recruiting tool. They both announced the next wave of Cardinal standouts this week.

On Wednesday, Tanner announced that Julia Hermann, Danijela Jackovich, Sophia Monaghan, Jamie Neushul and Jessica Webster will join the water polo program.

"This group has an extremely bright future," said Tanner. "They've had college-level coaching for much or all of their careers, and they have the work ethic to embrace the intensity of play here. It's really exciting that they've all been focused on Stanford for some time and can't wait to get started."

On Thursday, VanDerveer announced that forwards Kailee Johnson and Erica McCall, wing Karlie Samuelson and point guard Khaliyah "Lili" Thompson will join her crew.

"Some words that I think really describe this class are versatile, athletic, and competitive," VanDerveer said. "Our players are coming out of high school very skilled, and we will continue to have good team speed. All four are a great fit for Stanford academically, will be a great fit for our team. These are players who have played not only for USA Basketball, but for elite summer basketball programs and great coaches, so the experienced competition they have excelled against will help them acclimate quickly to the college game."

Water polo

Hermann, a 5-8 goalie, is one of four Southern Californians in the class and was named to the All-CIF San Diego Section Division I first team last season after leading Torrey Pines High School to its second straight Palomar League title. She also garnered the Palomar League Player of the Year award as well as being named to the all-county first team.

Jackovich, a 6-0 center, brings a strong international resume to the program, having captained the U.S. Youth National Team in 2011. Next month she will represent the USA at the FINA Youth World Championships in Perth, Australia.

Monaghan helped lead the U.S. Junior National Team to the gold medal at the U-19 Pan-American Games. The 5-9 center-defender was also previously a member of the youth national team.

Neushul , a 5-7 driver, helped lead Dos Pueblos High to consecutive CIF Southern Section Division I titles in her freshman and sophomore years. In 2011 and 2012, she was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division I First Team for her accomplishments.

Webster, a 5-10 driver from The Bishop's School, She was twice named to the All-CIF San Diego Section first team.

Women's basketball

Johnson and McCall will add additional depth to the Cardinal frontcourt upon arrival during the summer of 2013.

Johnson, a 6-3 forward, brings a wide-ranging skill set to The Farm. The Portland, Ore. native utilizes her length and size to make herself a formidable defender and rebounder, and can transition that ability into quickly leading the break into the offensive attack.

McCall, also 6-3, has already burnished her credentials against international competition as a two-time gold medalist with the USA Basketball U16 and U17 National Teams. In 2011, McCall was part of the U16 squad that captured gold at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship, qualifying the Americans for the U17 World Championship and another gold medal in 2012.

Samuelson joins older sister, Bonnie, on the squad next season, adding her own deadly long-range accuracy to the Cardinal fold. Samuelson, at 5-11, has gained experience running an offense from the point as well as playing at the shooting guard position, utilizing her shooting capabilities.

Thompson, a 5-7 point guard from Mansfield, Texas, bolsters not only the Cardinal backcourt but also its sizable contingent from the Lone Star State. She will join fellow Texans Chiney Ogwumike (Cypress), Alex Green (Dallas), Kiran Lakhian (Plano) and Amber Orrange (Houston) on the roster next season.

Women's swimming

Greg Meehan and Rick Schavone announced Thursday that six student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent to join the swimming and diving program.

The six-person signing class — Meehan's first since arriving on The Farm in August — includes swimmers Lia Neal, Grace Carlson, Nicole Stafford, Tara Halsted, Bridget Boushka and diver Kassidy Cook.

"Today is a very exciting day for Stanford women's swimming and diving," Meehan said. "In a very short period of time here on The Farm, we are thrilled to have received a National Letter of Intent from these six amazing young women. Not only will they improve our program in the water and off the boards, but they are fantastic people."

Neal competed for the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics, earning a bronze medal as part of the 4x100 free relay.

Carlson, a native of Portland, Ore., competes on the club scene for Tualatin Hills Swim Club. Carlson went 26.39 in the 50m free at the 2011 U.S. Junior Nationals and posted a personal-best 23.22 in the 50-yard free.

Stafford hails from Atlanta, Ga., and attends Westminster Prep while swimming for Dynamo Swim Club and head coach Jason Turcotte. Stafford qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100 fly, 200 fly, 200 back and 200 free. The 10-time Georgia A-AAAA state champion earned 10 All-America accolades while teaming to claim the 2011 national title in the 400 free relay.

Halsted is a two-time defending champion in the 500 free in California's San Joaquin Sectional. The Davis native is an accomplished backstroker with lifetime bests of 55.63 (100) and 1:57.83 (200) while also going 2:00.91 in the 200 fly.

Boushka attends Texas' St. Michael's Catholic Academy. Boushka is a fly specialist with top times of 56.80 (100) and 2:02.39 (200).

One of the premier up-and-coming divers in the United States, Cook preps at The Woodlands in Texas and was named the 2010 NISCA national champion.

"She's definitely the greatest high school diver I've ever recruited," said Schavone. "Kassidy was fourth at the Olympic Trials at age 16, missing the synchro at the Trials by one point. She's a great, great, great diver."

Women's basketball

Sophomore guard Amber Orrange and junior All-America Chiney Ogwumike will lead the fourth-ranked Cardinal into the mouth of a Bear on Friday when Stanford takes on top-ranked Baylor and the massively talented Brittney Griner at the Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Hawaii.

Baylor (2-0) is coming off a 34-point win over No. 6 Kentucky, which was held to just over 27 percent shooting. Griner recorded her 82nd consecutive double-figure scoring game and also had five blocked shots. She holds the Big 12 record with 606 career blocks and needs 57 to match the NCAA mark.

Stanford (2-0) beat Santa Clara, 92-57, on Sunday with Ogwumike scoring 22 points and the Cardinal shooting 63.5 percent from the field.

The defending national champion Bears provide Stanford with what Ogwumike terms a "gut check," or an early test to see how Stanford stacks up against the best team in the nation.

Baylor, of course, ended Stanford's season last year, 59-47, in the national semifinal game. The Cardinal played a tactical defensive strategy against Griner and plans to employ many of the same things this time around.

That means guard play will be important. In last year's loss, Orrange felt it was a matter of making a few more offensive plays.

Other keys to the game against Baylor will be the depth at the post position, with Mikaela Ruef and freshman Tess Picknell likely to spend time in the lineup against Griner.

The Cardinal also play Hawaii and Tennessee-Martin in the three-day tournament.

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