2nd-Ranked Women of Troy Advance To NCAA Regionals

Dec. 4, 2000

The Facts
The 2nd-ranked USC women's volleyball team (27-2, 16-2 Pac-10) advance to the NCAA Regional Champioships for the ninth time in program history. Receiving its 10th consecutive bid (18th overall) to the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship, the Trojans defeated Georgia State, 3-0, and Cal Poly, 3-0, in the first and second rounds.

As the No. 1 seed in the Pacific Region, the Women of Troy will host the Pacific Regional this Thursday and Friday, Dec. 7-8, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The 2000 Pac-10 Co-Champions will face fourth-seeded Florida (29-4) at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The regional semifinals will also feature second-seeded Colorado State (32-4) and third-seeded defending NCAA champion Penn State (29-5), who face each other on Thursday at 5 p.m. The two winners advance to the finals and will meet on Friday, Dec. 8, at 4:30 p.m. (the match will be televised live on Fox Sports Net). The regional champion advances to the NCAA Championship Final Four to be played Thursday and Friday, Dec. 14 and 16, on the campus of Virginia-Commonwealth in Richmond, Va.

Match Broadcasts
NCAA Regional Semifinals
USC vs. Florida
Thursday, Dec. 7 @ 7 p.m.

NCAA Regional Finals
Winners of Thursday Matches
Friday, Dec. 8 @ 4:30 p.m.
Live on Fox Sports Net

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2000 Team Highlights
* The Trojans won their first-ever share of the Pac-10 title (with Arizona) - their fourth overall conference title.
* Despite not receiving the NCAA automatic berth (Arizona won the tiebreaker), USC was selected as the top seed in the Pacific Region for the first time ever.
* Freshman April Ross was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
* Head Coach Jerritt Elliott was honored as the Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year (along with Arizona head coach David Rubio) for the second consecutive year.
* USC had all six starters named to all-conference teams and two honored as Pac-10 all-academic.
* The Trojans began the season with a program-record 38-game win streak, sweeping their first 12 opponents.
* Troy held on to Volleyball magazine's No. 1 ranking for five weeks throughout the season.
* With a 16-2 Pac-10 record, USC tied its best-ever conference record in program history (The Trojans went 16-2 in 1998 but finished second in conference play).
* The 16-2 record is USC's 10th consecutive winning mark in the Pac-10.

USC History in the NCAAs
The Women of Troy are making their 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and their 18th overall since the tournament's inception in 1981. USC has only missed the tournament twice, in 1986 and 1990, after posting its only two losing seasons in program history. With a 26-16 all-time NCAA tournament record, USC has won one NCAA national championship and advanced to the Final Four three times. Led by All-Americans Dana Smith and Cathy Stukel, the Trojans claimed the first-ever NCAA women's volleyball title in 1981. Entering the tournament as underdogs on a four-match losing streak, USC won when it counted, beating UCLA in the championship match after being down 2-1. The team ended the 1981 season with a 27-10 overall record.

USC moved up one spot prior to the start of the NCAA tournament in this week's USA Today/AVCA coaches poll, and remained the same according to the Volleyball magazine poll. The Trojans enter the tournament ranked 2nd and 4th, while Arizona (No. 5/6), UCLA (No. 11/12) and Stanford (No. 19/17) are the only other Pac-10 teams currently ranked. Volleyball also ranked USC's freshman class as the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, and among Pac-10 coaches, USC was picked to finish 3rd in the conference race.

Against Ranked Opponents
This week, USC could face two more ranked opponents, including No. 10 Florida in the regional semifinals on Thursday (Dec. 7). Of the nine ranked opponents the Trojans have faced, then-ranked No. 6 Arizona and No. 8 UCLA are the only teams to have claimed victories.

				Prior to match	After loss/win
Sep. 1 vs. Texas W, 3-0 No. 18 NR
Sep. 22 vs. Stanford W, 3-0 No. 11 No. 21
Oct. 6 vs. UCLA W, 3-1 No. 8 No. 10
Oct. 13 vs. Arizona L, 0-3 No. 6 No. 5
Oct. 20 vs. Stanford W, 3-2 No. 17 No. 17
Oct. 24 vs. UCSB W, 3-2 No. 14 No. 15
Nov. 3 vs. UCLA L, 0-3 No. 8 No. 7
Nov. 10 vs. Arizona W, 3-1 No. 3 No. 5
Nov. 24 vs. Notre Dame W, 3-2 No. 19 No. 19

Opponent Profiles
Of Note ... USC is the only Pacific Regional team that did not compete in the early season NACWAA State Farm Classic (CSU, Penn State and Florida) hosted by Florida on Aug. 25-26. In the tournament, Florida was defeated by both Colorado State, 3-1, and Penn State, 3-1. The Rams went on to win the tournament title by defeating UCLA, 3-2.

Florida -- Florida (29-4, 14-0 SEC) earned its 10th consecutive appearance to the NCAA Tournament, entering as the fourth seed in the Pacific ... The Gators clinched their eighth automatic berth into the post-season tournament with a home sweep of Louisiana State in the Southeastern Conference Tournament - its eighth conference tournament title in nine years, and 10th consecutive conference championship ... UF is 10-4 against this season's NCAA tournament teams, and 4-2 against teams in the region ... In the first two rounds, the Gators defeated Arkansas-Little Rock, 3-0, and SE Missouri State, 3-0, to advance ... Middle blocker Nicole McCray was honored as the SEC Player of the Year ... She currently leads the teams with 1.31 blocks per game ... Outside hitter Aury Cruz became the first Gator to be named SEC Freshman of the Year, leading the team with 4.27 kills, 3.41 digs and 0.52 aces per game ...Tenth year head coach Mary Wise was awarded her eighth SEC Coach of the Year honor in ten years at the helm of the Florida volleyball program ... Her teams have compiled a 333-35 (.905) overall record.

Colorado State -- The Rams (32-4, 13-1 MWC) advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the second straight year after defeating Radford, 3-0, and Colorado, 3-2, in the first two rounds ... This is Colorado State's sixth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, and 12th overall ... With a 32-4 overall record and 13-1 mark in the Mountain West, Colorado State was upset by BYU in the final match of the McLeodUSA MWC Volleyball Championship, to finish second in conference play and break their own NCAA-leading 44-match home win streak ... Middle blocker Summer Jennings became CSU's all-time career block assists leader this season, and has averaged 1.17 blocks per game ... Junior Angela Knopf leads the team at the net with a 1.65 blocks per game average ... Outside hitter Coutney Cox leads with 4.06 kills and 2.44 digs per game, while setter Allison Peckham has averaged 12.82 assists ... The Rams are 9-4 against ranked opponents this season, falling to BYU, twice, Nebraska and Pacific ... As a team, Colorado State has hit below .200 in just two matches this season, and have hit above .300 in 19 out of 32 matches, including a season-high .596 against Air Force on Nov. 16 ... The team is led by head coach Tom Hilbert who is in his fourth season at CSU and boasts a 111-21 overall record.

Penn State -- The Nittany Lions (29-5, 16-4 Big Ten) are making their 11th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance after defeating James Madison, 3-0, and Washington State, 3-1, in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament ... The Lions earned a No. 3 seed in the Pacific Region and entered the tournament ranked No. 10 ... Last season's NCAA Champions, Penn State compiled a 27-5 overall mark this season, and finished third in the Big Ten with a 16-4 record ... Since dropping a five-game match on Nov. 4 at Minnesota, the Lions have rolled off eight straight wins and won 18 of their last 19 overall.. Three of Penn States four losses this season have been five-game matches ... All-Big Ten honoree Mishka Levy has paced the offense this season as she leads the squad with an average of 4.51 kills per game ... Defensively, Amanda Rome has led the team with 2.79 digs per outing, while Robyn Gnokas paced the team at the net with 1.5 stops per game ... In his 22nd year at the helm of the Penn State women's volleyball program, Russ Rome has compiled a 720-126 (.851) overall record and garnered the school's first NCAA Volleyball Championship in 1998.

Series Records
-- The Trojans and Gators will meet for only the second time in program history. Thursday's clash could mean sweet revenge for USC as they try to make up for the last time they faced Florida. Ironically, the Gators defeated the Women of Troy in the 1998 Regional Semifinals and elimated USC's NCAA hopes. The match was played in Gainsville, Fla., in front of 2,581. USC lost in four - 13-15, 15-12, 9-15, 9-15.

Colorado State -- The Rams and Trojans have not faced each other in over a decade. Despite a 6-3 USC advantage in the all-time series, the last meeting ended on a bad note as the Women of Troy were swept by the Rams (3-0) at the Pac-10 Challenge on Oct. 29, 1988, in Westwood.

Penn State -- USC won its only meeting with the Nittany Lions on Dec. 11, 1980. The Trojans defeated Penn State 15-5, 15-1 in the first round of the AIAW Championship en route to one of four national titles.

Statistical Comparisons
W-L hit% kpg apg sapg dpg bpg
USC Team Stats 27-2 .313 17.20 15.73 1.63 16.24 2.95
Opponent Stats .176 14.91 13.35 0.93 13.68 1.77

Florida Team Stats 29-4 .272 16.18 14.39 1.70 14.90 3.32
Opponent Team Stats .125 12.46 10.83 0.71 12.64 1.97

Colorado St Team Stats 32-4 .297 16.34 15.00 1.56 13.56 3.20
Opponent Team Stats .125 12.32 10.98 0.90 11.48 2.10

Penn State Team Stats 29-5 .266 15.88 14.47 1.56 15.12 3.12
Opponent Team Stats .165 14.26 13.20 0.95 14.22 2.20

2000 NCAA Tournament Notes
Sixteen first and second round matches were played December 1-4 on the campuses of participating institutions. Winners advanced to regional tournaments held on December 7-10, on the campus of the top-seeded qualifying teams. The four regional winners, including the central, pacific, mideast and west regions, will advance to the national championship hosted by the University of Virginia-Commonwealth in Richmond, Vir. The semifinal games will be played on December 14 and the championship game will take place on Saturday, December 16. Penn State, the defending national champion, will compete in the pacific region as the No. 3 seed. USC (pacific), Nebraska (central), Hawai'i (west) and Wisconsin (mideast) enter the tournament as No. 1 seeds.

Trojans Win First-Ever Pac-10 Championship
Before this season, UCLA and Stanford were the only two schools to ever win at least a share of the Pac-10 title. USC, though winning three conference titles (1976, 1977, 1980) in its 24-year program history, had never won the Pac-10 Championship since the conference's inception in 1986, but the 2000 Women of Troy made history by winning its first-ever share of the title. With a 16-2 school-best conference record, Arizona and USC split the season series (1-1) and the championship.

			Pac-10			Overall
Team W L Pct. W L Pct.
#2 USC (t1st)* 16 2 .889 27 2 .931
#5 Arizona (t1st)* 16 2 .889 27 4 .871
#11 UCLA* 14 4 .778 24 7 .774
#19 Stanford* 10 8 .556 19 12 .613
Washington St* 9 9 .500 19 10 .655
Arizona State* 9 9 .500 18 12 .600
Oregon State 6 12 .333 16 16 .500
California 6 12 .333 13 15 .464
Oregon 2 16 .111 10 19 .345
Washington 2 16 .111 8 19 .296

2000 marks the ninth time the Pac-10 has sent at least six teams to the NCAA Tournament. Eight of the 19 NCAA titles awarded, including six of the last 10, have been won by a Pac-10 institution. The conference owns a 162-97 (.625) record in the postseason (which includes 38 matches where Pac-10 teams were pitted against each other).

Jerritt Named Co-Coach of the Year
Arizona coach David Rubio and USC interim coach Jerritt Elliott were tabbed the Pac-10 Co-Coaches of the Year after both guided their respective clubs to a share of the Pac-10 title and a top-five national ranking. The shared championship marks the first time a team other than UCLA or Stanford has won the Pac-10 title. Rubio led Arizona to a 24-3 record overall, 16-2 in Pac-10 play, while Elliott guided USC to a 24-2 mark overall, and a matching 16-2 Pac-10 record. Elliott brought in the nation's No.-1 ranked recruiting class and proceeded to guide the young squad to the championship. His career record stands at 45-11 (.804) and the Coach of the Year honor is his second-consecutive.

Ross Honored As Pac-10 Freshman of the Year
A 6-1 outside hitter from Newport Beach, Calif., April Ross was instrumental in USC's run for the Pac-10 title. She led the Women of Troy, and ranked ninth in the Pac-10, with 3.58 kills per game. Her 0.38 service aces per game ranked third in the Conference, while her 2.99 digs per game ranked ninth. Ross earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors and was named the AVCA National Player of the Week on Nov. 13 after hitting .417 with 37 kills (4.63 kpg) in wins over No. 3 Arizona and Arizona State, respectively. Ross becomes the third USC freshman in the last six years to receive the honor, joining current teammate Antoinette Polk (1997) and former Trojan Jasmina Marinkovic (1995).

Six Trojans Named To All-Conference Teams
All six starters for the Women of Troy were honored to all-conference teams. Freshman April Ross was named All-Pac-10 first team, along with junior Jennifer Pahl who earned her second first team selection. Senior Janae Henry earned her second honorable mention accolade and outside hitter Antoinette Polk completed her final season with her fourth consecutive honor. As a freshman (1997), Polk was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and has since been named to the All-Pac-10 honorable mention list as a sophomore (1998), junior (1999) and senior (2000). Freshmen Toni Anderson and Katie Olsovsky each earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention accolades, and were each named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team.

Two Named Pac-10 All-Academic
Sophomores Lauren Killian and Tracy Lindquist were named to the Pac-10 all-academic honorable mention team, announced Commissioner Tom Hansen on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Killian is a Business major with a 3.21 cumulative GPA. Lindquist owns a 3.18 cumulative GPA as a General Studies/Education major. To be eligible for selection to the all-academic team, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average and be either a starter or significant contributor.

NCAA First Round Recap
Janae Henry had nine kills and 13 digs - both match highs - while hitting .500 to lead USC to a 15-2, 15-4, 15-3, victory over Georgia State (Dec. 1) in the first round of the NCAAs. It was the 18th sweep of an opponent this season by the Women of Troy and the nine total points scored by the Lady Panthers was the fewest scored in a match against USC all year. The Women of Troy took control from the outset, recording a team attack percentage of .560 in the first game while committing only one attack error. In game two, USC hit .349 to Georgia State's .036. In game three, the Women of Troy sprang out to a 10-2 lead before putting the match away, 15-3. April Ross tied Henry for the match high with nine kills and added eight digs, while senior outside hitter Antoinette Polk recorded eight kills and nine digs. The Women of Troy hit .394 as a team to Georgia State's .094.

NCAA Second Round Recap
USC defeated Cal Poly 15-4, 17-15, 15-6 in the second round of the NCAAs on Saturday (Dec. 2). Cal Poly took a 2-1 lead to start the match, but USC responded by forcing two Mustang attack errors to establish a four point lead (6-2). The Mustangs earned their final two points and watched as USC embarked on a 8-0 run to claim the game one win, 15-4. Game two was a back-and-forth battle as the two teams matched each other point-for-point. Down 8-7, Jennifer Pahl posted two unassisted kills for a 9-8 Trojan advantage. Cal Poly tied the score six more times before an attack error gave USC the deciding (16-15) edge. Middle blocker Katie Olsovsky sealed the difficult victory, 17-15. The Mustangs momentum was diminished upon entering the third game. USC held Cal Poly to a .065 hitting percentage en route to the 15-6 win. April Ross and Pahl both added double digits with 13 and 11 kills, respectively, while Ross led with 13 digs and Pahl with seven blocks and a .550 attack percentage.

The Last Time...
With the Women of Troy's 27th win of the season against Cal Poly on Dec. 2, USC posted its first 27-win season since 1984 when the team finished 30-7 *** USC has won 20+ matches in 19-of-25 seasons *** The last time the Trojans won less than 20 matches in a season was in 1995 *** In USC's history, there have only been two seasons (1976 and 1977) with three or less losses (The Trojans won a national championship in both seasons) *** The last time was in 1977 when the team finished with a perfect 38-0 overall record - the only school to boast a perfect record until 1998 when Long Beach State finished 36-0.

The Trojans have swept 18 opponents this season *** Janae Henry is 51 digs away from reaching the 1,000 career mark *** After battling it out with Cal Poly (Dec. 2) for a 17-15 second-game win, USC is 6-2 this season in games forced beyond 15 points *** The Trojans allowed Georgia State to score only nine points in the Dec. 1 NCAA match - the lowest point total for a USC opponent this season *** USC broke Stanford's 45-match home win streak with a 3-0 win on Sept. 22, then completed the university's first-ever regular season sweep of the Cardinal with a 3-2 win on Oct. 20 *** The 2000 squad set a program record with a .556 team attack percentage against Oregon on Sept. 30 *** A freshman has led in kills, digs and/or blocks in all but three matches this season (26-of-29) *** The UC Santa Barbara match was USC's longest of the season, lasting two-hours, 30 minutes *** The shortest match of the season lasted one-hour, three minutes against Texas-San Antonio (Sept. 7) *** USC recorded its regular season season-high attendance figure with 1,093 fans in attendance against Arizona (Nov. 10).

Southland Dominance
As it is in most years, six Southern California teams (USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Long Beach State and UCSB) advanced to the 2000 NCAA Championships. Between USC, UCLA and Long Beach State lie seven NCAA titles and 13 national championships. A Southern California team has also reached the semifinals (Final Four) in 15 of 19 NCAA Championships (including the last three consecutive). Following the first and second rounds, USC, UCLA, Long Beach State and UCSB are the four schools who remain in contention this season.

Game Win Streak Ends At 38
USC put an end to a 23-year old record by surpassing a 28-game win streak previously set over the 1976 and 1977 championship seasons. The 2000 USC volleyball team extended its single game win streak to 38 before dropping its first game of the season to UCLA in a 3-1 victory on Friday (Oct. 6). Ironically, the previous record was also broken by UCLA on Oct. 26, 1977 in a USC 3-2 win.

Freshmen Bring Reminders Of The Past
The nation's No. 1 (according to Volleyball magazine) freshman class has made a definite impact on USC women's volleyball this season. Not only are three of the six (April Ross, Katie Olsovsky and Toni Anderson) starters for the Women of Troy, but their contributions have been significant. Ross leads the team in kills per game (3.58), Anderson is splitting time and assists at setter, and Olsovsky is averaging 1.18 blocks per game. As a group (which also includes Kelli Lantz, Nicole Davis and Jamie Carroll), the freshmen have been compared to the class of newcomers that joined USC in 1976 under head coach Chuck Erbe. With Terry Place, Paula Dittmer-Goodwin, Debbie Green and Debbie Landreth, the '76 Trojans went on to win the AIAW National Championship.

Stopping The Attack
After holding Georgia State (Dec. 1) to a sub .100 attack performance, the Lady Panthers became the ninth opponent this season to be held below .100 hitting against USC. In 29 matches, the Trojans have held 16 opponents below a .200 attack percentage.

Not On Our Turf
USC's record on its own territory remains unblemished this season. The Trojans are 16-0 at home while playing 3 matches in the Lyon Center and 13 at North Gym. USC's North Gym is a campus P.E. building built in 1933 that has been regarded as one of the most intimidating home court advantages in the Pac-10. The classic quarters have been home to all four national championship volleyball teams.

Splitting Sets
Uncommon for most teams, the 2000 squad has found great success by splitting sets. Setters Toni Anderson (Fr.) and Tracy Lindquist (So.) have seen equal time on the court in every match and head coach Jerritt Elliott keeps them in constant rotation. The duo has combined for 15.70 assists per game while each averaging 7.93 and 6.79, respectively.

Polk Reaches Mark
Senior Antoinette Polk reached a historic mark on Oct. 20 with her first of two digs in the final game against Stanford. With 1,141 career kills and 1,114 career digs to date, Polk became just the 35th player in Pac-10 history and the sixth player at USC to surpass 1,000 in both categories. The last USC athlete to reach this mark was OH Jennifer Kessy (1995-98) who collected 1,799 kills and 1,311 digs in her four-year career.

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