Volleyball Heads North For Matches At Washington State, Washington

Oct. 23, 2001

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THIS WEEK'S ACTION: The Oregon State volleyball team (13-5, 6-3 Pacific-10) hits the road for a pair of Pacific-10 matches in the state of Washington. OSU will start the week with a 7 p.m. match at Washington State (10-8, 5-6) on Thursday, October 25 before heading to Washington (10-10, 3-8) for a 7 p.m. match on Friday, October 26.

A REPEAT SWEEP SECURES WINNING RECORD: The Beavers swept the Washington schools at home last month, and a repeat of that performance would give OSU 15 wins, thus securing a winning record in regular season play and making the Beavers eligible for consideration to the NCAA Tournament. The Beavers beat the Huskies in Seattle last season, but OSU hasn't won in Pullman since 1990. However, the Beavers haven't lost back-to-back matches this year, and OSU heads into Pullman after losing to No. 7 Arizona last week. OSU hasn't had a winning season since 1996, when the team finished 19-12 but did not advance to postseason competition.

SOMERA SAYS:

On rebounding from last week's loss to No. 7 Arizona: 'We came into the practice gym on Monday with only two days to prepare. Because we leave Wednesday and play Thursday, we deviated from our normal routine a little and went pretty hard on Monday. So, given the week's dynamics, it was easier to move on and prepare for this week rather than to review (last week).'

On securing a winning record and a possible NCAA berth: 'Our goal is to get 17 or more wins, so in some ways they are more focused on 17 (rather than 15). They're not thinking about the minimum requirement to get into the tournament. They're playing and preparing to win, not just get there. The attitude and focus has changed so that they're going into matches in a way that they will keep getting better. If we keep playing well, the wins will come, but the focus is not on getting the 'W'. We're focusing on improving and peaking at the end of the year so that we are playing our best volleyball in the playoffs.'

RECAPPING LAST WEEK'S ACTION: The Beavers picked up a split over the Arizona schools for the second time this year. OSU defeated Arizona State in three games (30-22, 30-21, 30-27) on Friday before falling to No. 7 Arizona in three games (30-21, 30-22, 30-20) on Saturday. The Beavers also won at ASU last month, marking the first time OSU defeated ASU twice in the same season since 1996. Gina Schmidt had a team-high 20 kills (3.33 kpg) for the weekend, while Laura Collins led the Beavers with 19 digs (3.17 dpg). Michele Solomon was impressive at the net, posting nine blocks (1.50 bpg) in the two matches.

A PAIR OF MILESTONES FOR THE BEAVERS LAST WEEK: Two significant milestones were reached in OSU's win over Arizona State last week. Gina Schmidt, who had 11 digs in the win, became the ninth Beaver to record 1,000 career digs. That feat also makes her one of only five Beavers with 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. In addition, Michele Solomon had six blocks against the Sun Devils as she recorded her 300th career block to become the eighth Beaver to reach that mark.

THE FIRST TIME AROUND: The Beavers defeated Washington State in four games and Washington in three games in Corvallis last month to defeat both Washington schools during the same week for the first time since 1993. As a result, Laura Collins was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her efforts in the two wins. She had 100 assists (14.29 apg) and 19 digs (2.19 dpg) iin the two matches. Gina Schmidt was a key factor in OSU's win over WSU, finishing with 19 kills and 20 digs, while Joscelyn Hannaford hit .385 with a team-high 13 kills against Washington.

DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE PARTICULARLY NOTED IN LEAGUE MATCHES: Oregon State ranks as the No. 1 team in the Pac-10 for digs for the fourth week in a row, averaging 17.40 digs per game. In conference matches only, the Beavers have done even better, averaging a league best 17.72 digs per game. While Gina Schmidt is the only Beaver to be ranked in the league's top 10 overall (3rd, with 3.24 digs per game), three Beavers are listed among the league's top 10 when considering conference games only. Schmidt remains third with an average of 3.19 digs per game, while Nikki Neuburger is eighth (3.09 dpg) and Lori Daedelow is 10th (2.97 dpg). For the year, Schmidt leads the team with 220 digs, while Neuburger is second (180) and Daedelow third (161). Three other Beavers also have at least 100 digs. The Beavers have outdug their opponents in all but two matches this year (Arizona is the only team to outdig OSU in 2001). Expect another defensive battle this week at Washington State, as the Beavers had a season-high 110 digs against the Cougars at OSU last month. WSU, which ranks second in the league for digs, turned in 106 digs in that match, with those two totals holding up as the top two team totals in the league this season. OSU also has the third and fourth highest totals in the league this year (98 against Sacramento State and 92 against San Jose State). Eight Beavers have combined for 49 double-figure dig performances in 16 matches this season. Schmidt leads the way with 13, while Neuburger has had 11 double-figure efforts. Four Beavers have had matches with 20+ digs this year, led by Megan McMillan, who has done so twice, with a career-high 25 against Northern Arizona and 24 against WSU - both of which rank in the top five single-match totals in the Pac-10 this season. K.C. Frederic had 24 against Sacramento State, while Daedelow had a career-high 20 against Arizona State and Schmidt had a season-high 20 against WSU.

A LOOK AT WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars (10-8, 5-6) split their matches in the Bay Area last week, defeating California but losing to No. 4 Stanford. LaToya Harris leads the team with 207 kills (3.51 kpg) and 178 digs (3.02 dpg), while Adrian Hankoff has 180 kills (3.21 dpg) and 154 digs (2.75 dpg).

A LOOK AT WASHINGTON: The Huskies (10-10, 3-8 Pac-10) were swept by Cal and Stanford on the road last week, but UW did pick up a midweek non-league win with a four-game victory over Portland before heading to the Bay Area. Washington is led by Allison Richardson, who has 272 kills (4.06 kpg) and 195 digs (2.91 dpg). Lisa Underhill is hitting .360 with 191 kills (2.73 kpg) and a team-high 86 blocks (1.23 bpg).

SCHMIDT'S BITS: After becoming one of only five OSU players with 1,000 career kills and digs, Gina Schmidt now looks to continue her climb up the record books. She ranks fourth all-time at OSU with 1,238 kills, 61 away from taking over the No. 3 spot from Heather Lowe (1,298 from 1995-97). Schmidt also has 1,016 digs to rank ninth all-time in that category. Next to pass is Leslie Preiss, who had 1,074 (1989-92). Schmidt leads the Beavers with 12 double-doubles in 18 matches this season. For the year, she has team-highs of 257 kills and 220 digs, ranking third in the Pac-10 for digs (3.24 dpg) and seventh for kills (3.78 kpg). Schmidt has had 10 or more kills in 14 matches, including four with 20-plus, with a season-high 26 against UC Irvine. She also had 25 in a match against Northern Arizona, making her one of only two Pac-10 players to have 25+ kills in two matches this year. She's also had 10-plus digs in 13 matches, with a season-high of 20 against Washington State.

SERVING HER WAY TO THE TOP: Jessica Papell has served seven aces in OSU's last four matches, lifting her team-leading total to 20 (0.31 sapg), 11 of which have come in conference matches (0.34 sapg). Her average in just conference matches ranks in a tie for ninth best in the league. She has served at least two aces in seven matches this season, highlighted by a season-best three against Arizona State last week.

McMILLAN, HANNAFORD COMPETING FOR STARTING SPOT: Opposite hitters Joscelyn Hannaford and Megan McMillan have been competing for playing time as of late. Hannaford had started the first 15 matches, with McMillan often playing in the back row. Lately, however, McMillan has been challenging as a six rotation player. In OSU's last four matches, each player has started twice. Hannaford started against Oregon (10/10), McMillan at Idaho State (10/13) and Hannaford (10/19) against Arizona State. McMillan hit an outstanding .579 with 12 kills against ASU and earned the starting spot against Arizona the following night. It will be another fight this weekend, as both players were instrumental in OSU's wins over Washington and Washington State last month. Hannaford hit .375 with a team-high 13 kills and four blocks in the win over Washington, while McMillan had a team-high 24 digs to go along with seven kills in the win over WSU. For the year, Hannaford has played in 59 games with 135 kills (2.29 kpg) and 91 digs (1.54 dpg), while McMillan has played in 54 games with 73 kills (1.35 kpg) and 139 digs (2.57 dpg).

CAN I ASSIST YOU?: Laura Collins has been a key reason for OSU's success this season. The setter is averaging 12.03 assists per game and has helped OSU rank among the top 30 nationally for team assists for the last few weeks. Collins was named to the all-tournament teams at both of OSU's preseason tournaments, and she was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her efforts in leading OSU to a sweep over the Washington schools in September. Collins has 806 assists on the year and ranks sixth in the Pac-10 for assists average. 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. She recently jumped into the top 10 for all-time assists at Oregon State, now ranking seventh with 874 career assists, 64 away from moving into sixth place. Collins is also a key defensive player for the Beavers, ranking fifth on the team with 142 digs (2.12 dpg). She's had double figures six times, including a career-high 14 against Oregon two weeks ago.

SOLOMON JUMPS BACK INTO TOP 10: Michele Solomon had one of her better blocking efforts last week, when she averaged 1.50 blocks per game (nine total). In addition to picking up her 300th career block, that effort also pushed her back into the top 10 for blocking among Pac-10 players. She's now averaging 1.09 blocks per game (74 total) to rank 10th in the league. In conference games only, she ranks sixth in the Pac-10 with 1.12 bpg (36 total). While she's been a key blocking force for the Beavers throughout her entire career, she's become an offensive threat this year as well. Solomon is hitting a career-best .338, which ranks 10th in the Pac-10. She's second on the team with 176 kills (2.59 kpg), and has had double-figures in nine matches this year, most recently picking up 13 while hitting .458 against Oregon two weeks ago.

NELSON'S NEWS: Katrina Nelson still ranks among the top 10 for hitting percentage in the Pac-10, although she dropped down to No. 6 this week after holding steady at No. 5 for three weeks in a row. Her current mark is .361, which would rank as the second best season hitting percentage at OSU if her numbers hold up for the remainder of the year. Nelson ranks fourth on the team with 134 kills (2.20 kpg) and has had 10 or more kills in six matches this year. Her best outing of the season came at Arizona State last month, when she tied her career-high with 18 kills while hitting .419. At Stanford three weeks ago, she had 11 kills and posted OSU's highest individual hitting percentage of the year with a .588 mark (also a career-high for her). In Pac-10 matches only, she ranks second on the team with 79 kills (2.55 kpg) while hitting .333, 10th best in the Pac-10 for conference matches only. Defensively, Nelson has 41 blocks (0.69 bpg), highlighted by a career-high seven blocks at Cal three weeks ago.

HEAD COACH NANCY SOMERA: The Beavers are under the direction of third-year head coach Nancy Somera. Somera, whose career record stands at 37-39, 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 and 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.

REGIONAL RANKINGS: OSU has been ranked eighth in both NCAA Regional Polls this season. The next poll will be released Oct. 31. OSU was ranked in two regional polls last year, checking in at 10th on Oct. 4 and ninth on Oct. 18 before dropping out for the remainder of the season.

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