USC encountered a sleeping giant Thursday night in Stanford, but the Cardinal woke up just in time to stay alive in its quest for a national women’s volleyball championship.

The top-ranked Cardinal, trailing two games to one, mounted a comeback and outlasted USC, 12-15, 15-6, 9-15, 15-10, 15-9, before a crowd of 2,542 in an NCAA West Regional semifinal.

Stanford will play No. 6 UCLA tonight at 7:30. The Bruins defeated No. 8 New Mexico, 15-12, 15-10, 15-10.

The Cardinal has lost to UCLA the last three years in the West Regional final at UCLA.


If nothing else, the No. 14-ranked Trojans (23-8) proved that they are not--nor will they be next season--a team to be taken lightly.

“We were very fortunate that we came out the winning team,” Stanford Coach Don Shaw said. “We came out lethargic . . ., but we found a way to win, and we’re just lucky and happy to be able to continue.”

As happened so many times this season, the young Trojans--with only one starting senior in Stefanie Bodison--were unable to capitalize after taking the lead.

They opened a 12-3 lead in the first game and held off a Stanford rally. They were beaten handily in the second game but came back to win the third. Stanford (30-1) was uncharacteristically beset by bad sets, long balls and an apparent miscommunication.


But the youth and inexperience of the Trojans “reared its ugly head,” according to Coach Lisa Love. That was compounded when Piper Hawn replaced setter Carrie Feldman.

Hawn, a former Mira Costa High standout, opened up the Cardinal offense, setting to the inside and out.

The Trojans, who earlier had kept the Stanford hitters pretty much in check, found themselves caught off guard.

As a result, hitters Kristen Klein, Bev Oden and Nicole Appleman pounded away with success.


Klein led all players with 28 kills. Oden had 19, Appleman 17.

Hawn was all over the court and set the ball 54 times.

“We knew she was capable of coming in and giving them a jump-start when they need one,” Love said. “She gets their adrenaline going.”

Cica Baccelli was the only Trojan to consistently put the ball down in the Stanford end of the court, finishing with a team-high 24 kills.


Bodison, who played her last game as a Trojan, put the season in perspective: “It’s been a fantastic season. Nobody knew what to expect; now they know that USC’s on its way back.

For UCLA (28-5), Natalie Williams and Elanie Youngs had 18 and 15 kills, respectively. New Mexico finished 23-6.