Volleyball Prepares For Final Four

Dec. 11, 2000

The Facts
The second-ranked USC women's volleyball team (29-2, 16-2 Pac-10) advance to the Final Four for the first time since 1985, and will look to contend for its fifth national championship and second NCAA title. Receiving its 10th consecutive bid (18th overall) to the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship, the Trojans defeated 10th-ranked Florida, 3-0, and defending national champion Penn State, 3-0, in the Pacific Regional to earn a trip to the semifinals. USC swept Georgia State, 3-0, and Cal Poly, 3-0, in the first two rounds and has yet to drop a single game in the tournament.

As the No. 2 seed overall, USC will face fourth-seeded Wisconsin (32-3) on Thursday, Dec. 14, at the Richmond (Va.) Coliseum. The 8:30 p.m. match will be taped delayed on ESPN2, airing on Friday (Dec. 15) at 1 p.m. EST. In the first semifinal match of the tournament, top-seeded Nebraska (32-0) will face third-seeded Hawai'i (31-1) on Thursday at 6 p.m. The two winners advance to the championship finals on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 3:30 p.m. EST. The championship match will be televised live on ESPN2.

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, 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. USC (Pacific), Nebraska (Central), Hawai'i (West) and Wisconsin (Mideast) all entered the tournament as No. 1 seeds and all advance to the semifinals.

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 30-16 all-time NCAA tournament record, USC has won one NCAA national championship and advanced to the Final Four, four 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.

Injury Report
Defensive specialist Nicole Davis is out for the remainder of the season after x-rays disclosed she fractured her left foot during practice on Dec. 6.

Want To Know When Was The Last Time?
The Last Time
USC won a national championship was in 1981. The Trojans were the first NCAA National Champions.
The Last Time the Trojans advanced to the Final Four was in 1985 when the team finished third after falling to Stanford, 1-3, but defeating UCLA, 3-2.
The Last Time USC won 27+ matches in a single season was 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.
The Last Time USC finished with three or less losses was in 1976 and 1977, and the Trojans won a national championship in both seasons. (In 1977 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.)

Rankings
USC moved up one spot prior to the start of the NCAA tournament in the 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
Of the 11 ranked opponents the Trojans have faced this season, then-ranked No. 6 Arizona and No. 8 UCLA are the only teams to have claimed victories.

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

Opponent Profiles
Wisconsin --
The Badgers (32-3, 18-2 Big Ten - 1st) advance to the Final Four for the first time in program history after defeating Kansas State, 3-1, and UCLA, 3-2, in the Mideast Regional... Wisconsin won its third Big Ten title this season... Among its only three losses of the season, Wisconsin fell to Florida, 0-3, Ohio State, 2-3, and Penn State, 2-3... Middle blocker Sherisa Livingston was tabbed Big Ten Conference Co-Player of the Year... The Badgers also boast the 2000 Freshman of the Year in Claudia Rodriguez... Livingston led the squad with 5.2 kills per game, 1.39 blocks per game and a .386 attack percentage... Rodriguez averaged 2.97 kills and 1.10 blocks per game... Wisconsin was also guided by setter Lizzy Fitzgerald who averaged 13.93 assists and was named All-Big Ten first team... Head Coach Pete Waite was honored as the Big Ten Coach of the Year in only his second season with the Badgers... Waite owns a 320-115 career record and 54-13 mark at Wisconsin.

Hawai'i -- Three-time national champion Hawai'i (31-1, 16-0 WAC - 1st) defeated Long Beach State, 3-2, and UC Santa Barbara, 3-1, to advance to the NCAA Semifinals... The third-ranked Rainbow Wahine dropped only the final match of the regular season to blemish a near-perfect record... On Nov. 25, Long Beach State defeated Hawai'i, 1-3... Hawai'i captured its fifth-consecutive conference crown and, since joining the WAC in 1996, the Rainbows have claimed the title every year... All six starters were named to the All-WAC first team and UH swept all three individual honors... Outside hitter Lily Kahumoku was named Player of the Year while leading the team with 4.51 kills per game... Middle blockers Maja Gustin and Kim Willoughby shared the Freshman of the Year honor... Gustin led with a .379 attack percentage and 1.63 blocks per game, while Willoughby led with an average of 2.99 digs per game... Head Coach Dave Shoji was named WAC Coach of the Year after leading the team to a 25-0 start... The 26th-year head coach boasts a 737-138-1 overall record at Hawai'i.

Nebraska -- No. 1-ranked Nebraska (32-0, 20-0 Big 12 - 1st) earned its seventh NCAA Final Four bid when it defeated Ohio State, 3-0, and Arizona, 3-0, in the Central Regional... The Huskers, who now own a 45-17 all-time NCAA Tournament record, will face third-ranked Hawai'i in the Semifinals... Nebraska ranks fifth in NCAA history in Final Four appearances and last nabbed a Final Four bid in 1998... The Huskers won the 1995 national championship... Nebraska earned an automatic bid to the tournament after winning its fourth Big 12 conference title... Setter Greichaly Cepero led the team this season averaging 11.93 assists per game... Cepero was honored as the Big 12 Conference Player of the-Year, while outside hitter Laura Pilakowski and middle blockers Amber Holmquist and Jenny Kropp were named first-team all-conference... Pilakowski leads the team in kills (4.33 kpg) and Holmquist leads in blocks (2.01 bpg)... First-year head coach Terry Cook was honored as Central Region Coach of the Year.

Series Records
Wisconsin
-- Thursday's match will be the sixth all-time meeting between USC and Wisconsin. The Trojans own a 3-2 advantage in the series after dropping the last meeting in 1998.

Hawai'i -- Hawai'i and USC have met a total of 31 times in their 25-year history. The Trojans are 14-17 (.452) all time against the Wahines.

Nebraska -- The Cornhuskers and Trojans have faced each other four times, while USC owns the advantage with a 3-1 record (.750).

Statistical Comparisons			W-L	hit%	kpg	apg	sapg	dpg	bpgUSC Team Stats		29-2	.314	17.38	15.88	1.63	16.39	2.95Opponent Stats			.178	15.04	13.45	0.93	13.94	1.76

Wisconsin Team Stats 32-3 .280 17.46 15.64 1.33 17.13 3.10Opponent Team Stats .136 13.77 12.42 0.99 15.01 1.90

Hawai'i Team Stats 31-1 .294 17.21 15.53 1.59 16.56 3.21Opponent Team Stats .138 12.42 11.53 0.97 13.32 2.42

Nebraska Team Stats 32-0 .315 16.60 14.65 1.75 15.38 4.17Opponent Team Stats .119 13.28 12.16 0.96 14.33 1.46

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	WSU*		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).

Elliott Named Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year and AVCA Pacific Region Coach of the Year
Interim Head Coach Jerritt Elliott, who has guided USC to a 29-2 record, led the Trojans to a No. 2 USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll ranking. USC earned the right to host the Pacific Region Tournament as the No. 1 seed. Elliott's ability to coach young starters (three freshmen, one junior and two seniors) has helped the team's success. He led USC to a share of the Pac-10 championship with Arizona and was named Co-Pac-10 Coach of the Year (along with Arizona head coach David Rubio) to follow up his 1999 Pac-10 Coach of the Year honor. All six USC starters earned all-conference recognition under Elliott's guidance the last two years. The Trojans began the season with a program-record 38-game win streak, despite having a youthful starting lineup. Elliott has compiled a 49-11 record in his two seasons as interim head coach at USC.

Ross Honored As Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and AVCA Pacific Region 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 Pac-10 honor, joining current teammate Antoinette Polk (1997) and former Trojan Jasmina Marinkovic (1995). She is the first in USC history to receive the AVCA title.

Ross, Pahl Receive AVCA All-Pacific Region Accolades
April Ross and Jennifer Pahl were each honored on the All-Pacific Region team as they prepared for the NCAA Pacific Regional Semifinal, the American Volleyball Coaches Association announced Wednesday (Dec. 6). This is the first all-region honor for both players.

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.

NCAA First Round Recap (def. Georgia State, 3-0)
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 (def. Cal Poly, 3-0)
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.

NCAA Pacific Regional Semifinal Recap (def. Florida, 3-0)
USC swept the No. 10 Florida Gators, 15-13, 15-13, 15-11, in the Pacific Regional Semifinal at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Thursday (Dec. 7). Jennifer Pahl had 14 kills and a .379 hitting percentage for the Trojans, while Janae Henry had 10 kills, a .381 hitting percentage and five service aces. The match, in front of a crowd of 1,286, saw wild swings of momentum on both ends of the spectrum. USC led 12-4 at one point during the first game, but had to hold off a fierce rally by Florida. The Gators used a 9-2 run and served down only one point at 14-13, but the Trojans got the side out and recorded the game-winner on the next serve. USC started strong again in the second game, but had to survive another Florida rally. With several game points against them, the Gators were able to rattle off eight unanswered points to come within one, 14-13. USC used a key substitution, inserting Kelli Lantz into the lineup on Florida's serve. Lantz recorded a key block and then followed with a kill on another sideout for the Trojans. On USC's serve, sophomore setter Tracy Lindquist snuck a two-handed shot between Florida's defense for the game-winner. The third game began with both teams working to a 3-3 tie. USC took the lead again with four straight points, but down 7-3, Florida once again fought back. The Gators used three straight points to get back into the game before both teams alternated points to a 9-8 USC advantage. Similar to the previous two games, USC pushed the Gators to the brink with a 5-1 run. This time, Toni Anderson used a sneak kill to finish the sweep for USC.

NCAA Pacific Regional Final Recap (def. Penn State, 3-0)
USC registered a three-game sweep Friday (Dec. 8) over Penn State, 15-11, 15-9, 15-4, in the NCAA Pacific Regional Final at the Sports Arena. The Trojans out-hit the Nittany Lions by a .425 to .159 margin. Katie Olsovsky recorded the highest hitting percentage of the season by a Trojan with a .750 effort (12 kills on 16 attempts with no errors) and Jennifer Pahl had a team-best 16 kills and a .583 attack percentage. In the first game, USC had difficulty closing out the Nittany Lions. The Trojans had a 14-4 lead before Penn State roared back with seven straight points. After several game points, Antoinette Polk delivered a block to record the game-winner for the Trojans. Down 3-2 in the second game, Penn State put the pressure on with a 5-0 run to take a 7-3 lead. The Trojans, however, used their own run by reeling off 10 straight points for a 14-7 advantage. Once again, the 15th point proved to be difficult for USC as PSU battled against several game points and recorded a couple of its own. Janae Henry hit a kill off a Penn State block to wrap up the second game. The Lions jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the third game, but USC answered with another impressive run of 14 consecutive points. The Women of Troy saved their best effort for the final game with a .567 hitting percentage.

NCAA Pacific Regional All-Tournament Team
April Ross (USC) - Most Outstanding, Katie Olsovsky (USC), Jennifer Pahl (USC), Katie Schumaker (Penn State), Mishka Levy (Penn State), Summer Jennings (Colorado State).

News-N-Notes
USC has swept every opponent in the tournament thus far *** The Trojans have swept 20 opponents this season *** Janae Henry is 31 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 (28-of-31) *** 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).

All In The Family
Advancing to the Final Four is nothing new to Lauren Killian and her family. Her father Don was a member of the 1977 USC national championship men's volleyball team. Her brother Donny, who recently transferred to USC, advanced to the men's volleyball Final Four with Pepperdine in 1998 and 2000.

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 advanced to the Regionals. USC is the only one that remains in contention for the national title.

One Step At A Time
Upon entering the 2000 NCAA Tournament, the Women of Troy knew they had to overcome a number of difficult obstacles. Obstacle No. 1 - After being upset in the second round last season, the Trojans showed a sign of relief with their second-round victory over Cal Poly this year. Obstacle No. 2 - In 1998 USC was eliminated in the regional semifinal by Florida with a 3-1 loss in Gainesville. This year, the Trojans took revenge with a 3-0 regional semifinal victory over the Gators. Obstacle No. 3 - Having to face the defending national champions in the regional final did not phase the Trojans who swept Penn State, 3-0.

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 31 matches, the Trojans have held 17 opponents below a .200 attack percentage, including Penn State who hit .159 in the regional final.

Not On Our Turf
USC's record on its own territory remains unblemished this season. The Trojans are 18-0 at home while playing three matches in the Lyon Center, two at the Los Angeles Sports Arena 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 8.04 and 6.82, 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 1,152 career kills and 1,133 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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