Volleyball Hosts Portland, Travels To Arizona For Pac-10 Play

Sept. 17, 2001

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THIS WEEK'S ACTION: The Oregon State volleyball team (5-2) looks to get back in the swing of things after last week's tragic events temporarily halted the season. The Beavers will host Portland (2-4) in non-conference action at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 18 before heading to Arizona for what will now be the first week of Pacific-10 Conference action. OSU will play No. 3 Arizona (5-0) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21 in Tucson, followed by a 7 p.m. match against Arizona State (4-3) on Saturday, Sept. 22 in Tempe.

NO MAKEUP DATES SET AS OF YET: OSU's matches against UCLA (Sept. 13) and USC (Sept. 14) were postponed indefinitely after last week's events. It is not yet known when they will be rescheduled.

TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS: Admission to volleyball matches is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens and youth (HS and under). OSU students are free with a valid ID. Tuesday's match against Portland is Good Samaritan and Hewlett Packard Night. Employees of either company can get in free (good for up to four family members) by showing their ID badges.

LAST TIME OUT: The Fiesta Bowl was good, but not quite as good, to the Beavers this time around. The Beaver football team defeated Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, and the volleyball team was looking for a winning effort at the Fiesta Bowl Volleyball Tournament at Northern Arizona (Sept. 7-8). While the Beavers didn't capture the volleyball tournament title, OSU did go 2-1 in the tourney to take second place. The Beavers defeated UC Irvine (3-2) and Radford (3-1) but lost to host Northern Arizona (3-2), despite winning the first two games and having a nine-point lead in game three. OSU had two players make the all-tournament team, with Gina Schmidt and Laura Collins earning all-tourney honors for the second consecutive week. Schmidt hit .400 with 73 kills (5.21 kpg) and 33 digs (2.36) in the three matches, while Collins had 152 assists (11.69 apg) with 22 digs and 10 kills.

A LOOK AT PORTLAND: The Pilots are 2-4 on the season and did not play last week. Portland is led by Bridget DeChant, who has 56 kills (2.80 kpg) with a .279 hitting percentage. Heather Denison has also been putting up solid numbers, with 49 kills (2.45 kpg) and a team-high 23 blocks (1.15 bpg).

A LOOK AT ARIZONA: The No. 3 Wildcats are 5-0 this season and in fact have not lost a game all year. Dana Burkholder, last year's Pac-10 Player of the Year, has been named MVP at both of Arizona's preseason tournaments and is averaging 12.67 assists per game. Lisa Rutledge leads the team in kills with 69 (4.92 kpg, second in the Pac-10). The Wildcats also have two of the top five blockers in the league in Erin Sebbas (third, 1.77 bpg) and Stefani Saragosa (fifth, 1.50 bpg).

A LOOK AT ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils have won three in a row to up their record to 4-3 on the year. Leading the way for ASU is Jami Coughlin, who has a team-high 118 kills and ranks eighth in the Pac-10 with 4.07 kpg. Coughlin also leads the team with 96 digs (3.31 dpg, third in the Pac-10). Julia Leddy's .403 hitting percentage (2.93 kpg) is sixth in the league, and she leads the Sun Devils with 22 blocks (0.79 bpg).

SERIES RECORDS: OSU is 33-6 all-time against Portland, with the Beavers winning a four-game match in the Rose City a year ago. The Pilots haven't beaten OSU since 1989, when UP won in five games in Portland. The Beavers haven't had as much success against the Arizona schools. OSU is 10-21 against Arizona and 8-23 against Arizona State. Arizona has won nine straight, with the Beavers last winning at home in 1996 (3-1). The Wildcats won in four games in Tucson and three games in Corvallis last year. ASU and OSU split last year's series, witheach team winning in four games at home. ASU has won five out of the last six meetings.

DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE: The Beavers have outdug their opponents in every match this year, including the two matches they lost. OSU is averaging 17.37 digs per game, while opposing teams are averaging 14.60 digs per game. OSU's 17.37 dpg average is second best in the Pac-10, by a narrow .02 dpg margin - with WSU leading the league with 17.39 dpg. Gina Schmidt leads the Beavers with 99 digs and is fourth in the Pac-10 with 3.30 dpg. Megan McMillan, who had 25 digs against Northern Arizona for the highest single-match dig total by any Beaver this year, ranks 10th in the league with 2.80 dpg. Eight Beavers have combined for 25 double-figure dig performances in seven matches this season. Schmidt leads the way with seven, while Nikki Neuburger is second with four double-figure efforts.

IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL: Of the seven matches OSU has played this season, only one has been a three-game contest. The Beavers have played three four-game matches and three five-game matches, winning two and losing one of each. The Beavers have lost the first game just twice in seven matches but have gone on to the win the match both times (one in four games and one in five). The three five-game matches have all had different paths. Against Sacramento State, OSU won the first two games before the Hornets came back, but the Beavers won in five. Against UC Irvine, the Anteaters won the first two and OSU came from behind to win the next three. In the Northern Arizona match, OSU won the first two games and had a nine-point lead in game three before the Lumberjacks came back and eventually won the match. In OSU's only other loss of the year (to San Jose State), OSU won the first game but the Spartans won the next three.

DOUBLE THE PLEASURE: Gina Schmidt has had a double-double in all seven matches this year. She leads the Beavers with 134 kills and 99 digs and ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in both categories (4.47 kpg, 3.30 dpg). She's upped her hitting percentage to an impressive .358 on the year after hitting .389 in OSU's last four matches. Schmidt has had 20 or more kills in OSU's last three matches and four total on the year, with a season-high 26 against UC Irvine. Her season high for digs is 19, against San Jose State in the season opener. Schmidt, who earned all-tournament honors at both of OSU's preseason tournaments, has made her way into the top 10 for both career kills and digs in OSU's record books with her strong start this season. She is the ninth OSU player to record 1,000 career kills and now has 1,115 to rank seventh in the Beaver record books. She needs 26 to pass Staci Hintze for sixth place. Schmidt moved into the No. 10 spot for career digs this past weekend and now has 895. She needs 30 to take over the No. 9 spot and 105 to become the ninth Beaver with 1,000 career digs and the fifth with 1,000 career kills and digs.

SOLOMON ONE OF PAC-10'S TOP HITTERS: Michele Solomon leads the Beavers with a .399 hitting percentage, which is also good for seventh best in the Pac-10. She's had 82 kills and just 15 errors in 168 tries so far this season. While the season is just two weeks old, that's a tremendous offensive improvement from her first two seasons with the Beavers. As a sophomore last year, she hit .251, and she hit .200 as a freshman. With her strong start this year, she's upped her career hitting percentage to .256. She has had double-figure kills in four matches this year, including a season-high 18 against Radford two weeks ago - just missing her career-high of 19 (set against California last year). Solomon is also continuing her climb up the record books for blocking. She leads the Beavers with 33 blocks (1.10 bpg) this year and has moved into ninth place for career blocks at OSU. She has 264 career total blocks and needs 12 more to take over the eighth spot. With 230 career block assists, she ranks seventh all-time at OSU for that category (74 away from sixth).

SETTING A NEW STANDARD: Laura Collins has wasted no time taking over the Beaver offense in her first year as OSU's starting setter. She's been named to the all-tournament team at both of OSU's preseason tournaments. Collins has 342 assists on the year and ranks sixth in the Pac-10 with 11.79 assists per game. She had a career-high 67 assists in OSU's win over Sacramento State, with that total equalling OSU's 10th best single-match assists total for an individual. Collins also has 54 digs (1.86 dpg), including 11 in two matches for two double-doubles on the year. She has 27 kills (0.93 kpg) and 18 blocks (0.62 bpg) as well. True freshman Monica Meihack has also seen action as a back-up setter this year. In seven games, she has 39 assists (5.57 apg), with a career-high 24 against UC Irvine.

NELSON, EGGERT BATTLING FOR SECOND MIDDLE BLOCKER SPOT: Junior Katrina Nelson and redshirt freshman Amanda Eggert have been battling for the second middle blocker spot (with Michele Solomon playing every game as the other middle). Nelson has played in 24 of 30 possible games and is hitting .377 with 42 kills (1.75 kpg) and 13 blocks (0.54 bpg). Eggert has played in 17 games, hitting .442 with 21 kills (1.24 kpg) and 11 blocks (0.65 bpg). Nelson's best match was against Sacramento State, when she hit .444 with 16 kills and a career-high four blocks, while Eggert's top offensive match was against UC Irvine when she hit .846 with 11 kills. Eggert has had three blocks in two matches this season.

HANNAFORD'S HAPPENINGS: Joscelyn Hannaford is one of four Beavers to have played in all 30 games so far this season. She ranks third on the team for kills (72, 2.40 kpg) while hitting at a .245 clip. She also ranks fourth on the squad for digs (61, 2.03 dpg) and third for blocks (16, 0.53 bpg). She had a season-high 16 kills to lead OSU in its win over Southern Illinois, and she's had 10 or more kills in four matches this year. She's had 10+ digs in three matches, with a high of 16 against Sacramento State. She's had two double-doubles, against Radford and Sacramento State.

BEAVERS PICKED EIGHTH IN PAC-10 COACHES' POLL: For the second year in a row, the Pac-10 volleyball coaches have picked Oregon State to finish eighth in the league, according to their preseason coaches' poll. USC, ranked fifth in this week's USA Today/AVCA Top 25 Poll, narrowly egded out Stanford as the coaches' prediction to win the Pac-10 this season. No. 4 Stanford, No. 3 Arizona and No. 8 UCLA are also ranked in this week's national poll.

HEAD COACH NANCY SOMERA: The Beavers are under the direction of third-year head coach Nancy Somera. Somera, whose career record stands at 29-36, arrived at OSU in February 1999 after spending time as an assistant coach at USC since 1991. While at USC, Somera helped the team earn eight consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. She also helped develop eight USC All-Americans. Somera also played collegiately at USC, and she was a two-time All-Pacific-10 Team selection. She still holds the USC record for career and single-season aces.

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