SACRAMENTO -- Just when Asia Kaczor appeared poised to power Southern California past Stanford and into the NCAA volleyball championship, the Cardinal capitalized on two of her rare mistakes to save their season.
Kaczor served long on match point and was blocked on the next play, then top-seeded Stanford finished off a thrilling Game 5 win for a 23-30, 30-20, 30-25, 20-30, 16-14 victory over its Pac-10 rival Thursday night at Arco Arena.
"It was an amazing match," Stanford coach John Dunning said. "They are about three times as good as the first time we played them."
Stanford (32-2) will play for the championship Saturday night at 6 against third-seeded Penn State (33-2), which swept No. 10 Cal 30-28, 30-25, 30-16 in the late semifinal. Nicole Fawcett had 13 kills for the Big Ten champion Nittany Lions in the first meeting between the schools -- Penn State has a 25-match winning streak since a 3-2 loss to Stanford on Sept. 15.
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Penn State won its only volleyball title in 1999 and will be making its fifth appearance in the final. Cal finished the season 26-8.
Once the Stanford playmaker found her groove Thursday, so did the rest of the team.
Setter Bryn Kehoe overcame a slow start to record 70 assists and Pac-10 Player of the Year Foluke Akinradewo had seven of her 26 kills in the second game. Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Alix Klineman had 14 kills and 30 digs for Stanford
Stanford, seeking its seventh NCAA title and first since 2004, has won 12 matches in a row since losing at USC on Oct. 27.
Thursday's matches drew 13,048 fans.
Danny Woodhead, the 5-foot-9 senior running back from Division II Chadron State in Nebraska, was a first-team selection on The Associated Press Little All-America team for the second year in a row. The team honors players from Division II, III and the NAIA. Woodhead ran for an all-division record 7,962 yards in his career. This season he rushed for 1,876 yards and scored 27 touchdowns. ...
Georgia Southern quarterback Jayson Foster won the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Foster ran for 1,844 yards (7.1 yards per carry) and 24 touchdowns this season, and also completed 109 of 170 passes for 1,203 yards and six touchdowns in leading his team to a 7-4 record. ... Oklahoma assistant coach Kevin Sumlin will be hired as Houston's football coach, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The United States will play Germany in the Fed Cup quarterfinals Feb. 2-3 in a temporary stadium at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.
Lisa Leslie, the 2006 MVP, will return to the Los Angeles Sparks in May for the start of the 2008 season after sitting out last summer to give birth to a baby girl. Leslie, who gave birth to Lauren Jolie Lockwood on June 25, resumed playing basketball with the U.S. national team in late October.
The Football Association approved the appointment of Fabio Capello as England's new soccer coach Thursday, pending final contract negotiations with the former AC Milan, AS Roma and Real Madrid coach. Steve McClaren was fired three weeks ago after failing to get England to next year's European Championship.