BERKELEY -- At one point during the season, Stanford volleyball player Jordan Burgess shared a secret dream with her fellow freshmen:
"How cool would it be if we win every year we are here," she told the four other members of the country's top-ranked recruiting class.
Pretty cool, everyone agreed.
The Cardinal still has three more matches to win the first title after a 3-0 victory Friday night over No. 18 Iowa State in an NCAA regional semifinal in Haas Pavilion. Burgess had 16 kills and 14 digs to lead Stanford (30-3) to a 25-16, 25-19, 25-17 sweep in front of an announced crowd of 1,614.
It will play Michigan on Saturday night for a chance to reach its first Final Four since 2008. The Wolverines (26-11) eliminated Big Ten rival Michigan State 3-0 in the other semifinal match at Cal.
"I feel like we ran into a buzz saw tonight," Iowa State coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said after Stanford hit an impressive .322. "They don't have a lot of areas to exploit. They handle the ball, they pass, they block. We couldn't quite get a handle on what we could do to slow them down."
Freshman setter Madi Bugg added 30 assists and three service aces, as coach John Dunning praised the way the Cardinal passed and served.
"They were coming at us front row, back row, middle," Cyclones senior Jamie Straube lamented.
Stanford has won a record six NCAA titles, with the last coming in 2004. Cardinal fans hope to see that number increase behind the Fab Five -- Inky Ajanaku, Brittany Howard, Meghan McGehee, Bugg and Burgess.
Dunning wasn't sure how the freshmen would integrate with 10 returnees who played a lot last season.
"It's hard to ever come up with a group that is five deep in our sport," he said. "It's a mystery."
More like a short-lived mystery. Dunning and the returnees saw in preseason practices how quickly the players acclimated. All but McGehee started Friday and had big games.
Burgess, the 2012 high school national player of the year from Fort Myers, Fla., said the freshmen didn't feel extra pressure before the season.
"We deferred a lot of that just focusing on our team," she added. "We knew we would just add to a great team already."
Stanford absorbed two defeats in August when falling consecutively at Hawaii and Penn State. Discouraged in Honolulu, Dunning saw something special at State College, Pa., playing in front of a large Penn State crowd. The Cardinal fell 15-13 in the fifth set while using a handful of freshmen.
"That was our moment when I said they can handle this," Dunning said.
Since that match, Stanford has lost once in 29 matches, falling at eighth-ranked USC two weeks ago.
Four of the new players made the All Pac-12 freshman team.
Now the second-ranked Cardinal is trying to reach an NCAA-record 19th Final Four. Michigan stunned Stanford in the second round at Maples Pavilion last season. But the current roster doesn't resemble the last year's group in spirit.
"Honestly the biggest part of our success has been our practices," Burgess said of how the nonstarters have dominated. "The scrimmages have been insanely intense."