Volleyball Prepares For Toughest Portion Of Its Schedule

Nov. 13, 2001

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THIS WEEK: The Oregon State volleyball team (16-7, 9-5 Pacific-10) heads to Los Angeles for road matches at No. 5 USC and No. 11 UCLA this week. The Beavers will play the Women of Troy (18-3, 12-2 Pac-10) at 7 p.m., Thursday, November 15 before taking on the Bruins (14-7, 9-5) at 7 p.m., Friday, November 16. Note the schedule change for the match against USC. The match was originally scheduled for Saturday, November 17.

TOUGH COMPETITION AHEAD FOR THE BEAVERS: After playing the L.A. schools in Los Angeles, the Beavers will turn around and play them again in Corvallis just three days later. And with No. 8 Colorado State on the slate for Saturday, November 24, that means the Beavers will close out their regular season with five matches against Top 15 teams in 10 days. OSU was supposed to host USC and UCLA in September, but those matches were postponed because of the September 11 events. The Beavers will host UCLA at 7 p.m., Monday, November 19, with USC heading into Corvallis for a 7 p.m. match Tuesday, November 20.

OSU-UCLA TO BE TELEVISED: OSU's match at UCLA this week will be televised nationally on FOX Sports on a tape-delayed basis. The match will air at 10 a.m., Saturday, November 17 in the Northwest. Check local listings for airtimes on FOX Sports stations in other regions.

SOMERA SAYS: On the tough schedule in store over the next two weeks: 'The next five matches are going to be competitive and will require us to play at a high level for an extended period of time each match. We are going to have be focused from the first point of the match to the last point. Having to do that is a great exercise to prepare for the tournament. These five ranked opponents will help us get better both physically and mentally.'

CIVIL WAR WIN PUSHES BEAVERS CLOSER TO NCAA BERTH: OSU came away with a 3-0 win (31-29, 30-22, 30-27) at Oregon last week, inching the Beavers closer to their goal of a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Gina Schmidt led the way in the win over Oregon, hitting .289 with a team-high 15 kills and tying Jessica Papell with a team-high 11 digs. Katrina Nelson also played a key role in the win, hitting .320 with 12 kills and four blocks. It was the first time since 1997 that the Beavers have defeated the Ducks twice in the same season, the teams split the annual series the last three years.

PAC-10 SUCCESS FOR THE BEAVERS: OSU's win at Oregon gave the Beavers their ninth Pac-10 win of the season, good for the second most Pac-10 wins for an OSU volleyball team. That ninth win assures the team will finish no lower than .500 in Pacific-10 play for just the second time in program history. If the Beavers win two of their last four conference matches, they will tie the school record of 11 Pac-10 wins set in 1990. Regardless of what happens over the final four league matches, OSU will finish no lower than a tie for fifth place in the league standings, which would be the second highest finish for the Beavers. OSU finished third in the Pac-10 in 1990 but has not finished above seventh in the league in any other season since the Pac-10 began sponsoring women's volleyball in 1986.

NATIONAL POLLSTERS TAKING NOTE: Oregon State's success this season has hit the national scene as the Beavers have received votes in the last two USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Polls. After receiving four votes last week, the Beavers received seven votes in this week's poll, good for a No. 32 ranking (last week's total put OSU at No. 36). Until last week, the Beavers hadn't received mention in the poll since 1998, when they received votes in the preseason poll but were not ranked during the regular season.

SERIES RECORDS: The Beavers are 7-23 all-time against USC, and the Women of Troy have won the last eight matches in the series, including two 3-0 victories a year ago. The last time OSU beat USC was in 1996, when the Beavers won both matches in the annual series. OSU is 1-29 all-time against UCLA, with the Beavers picking up their first ever win against the Bruins last year in Los Angeles in five games. The Beavers came close to win No. 2 against UCLA last year, falling to the Bruins in five games in Corvallis.

A LOOK AT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: USC (18-3, 12-2 Pac-10) had a four-match winning streak snapped when it lost to No. 3 Stanford in four games last week. The Women of Troy are led by April Ross, who has 285 kills (4.01 per game, 5th in the Pac-10) and 207 digs (2.92 per game,T-9th in the Pac-10). Jennifer Pahl's .400 hitting percentage is the second best in the Pac-10, and she also ranks eighth in the league for blocks with 1.15 per game (85 total).

A LOOK AT UCLA: The Bruins (15-7, 9-5) have won four of their last five, losing only to No. 3 Stanford in three games during that span. Lauren Fendrick leads the Bruins with 299 kills (4.04 kpg, 4th in the Pac-10)to go along with 178 digs (2.41 dpg). Ashley Bowles ranks second for kills with 287 (3.78 kpg, 10th in the league), and she leads the team with 240 digs (3.16 dpg, 5th in the Pac-10). The Bruins are still without All-American Kristee Porter, who was averaging 5.81 kills per game but has been ineligible during UCLA's last nine matches and is awaiting an NCAA decision on her eligibility.

SCHMIDT'S BITS: Gina Schmidt jumped up one spot for kills and two spots for digs in the OSU career record books after OSU's win at Oregon, when she led the team with 15 kills and 11 digs. Schmidt now ranks third for career kills, with 1,307, and she jumped up to seventh for career digs with 1,082. She is one of only five Beavers to record 1,000 career kills and digs. She'll likely remain at No. 3 for kills when she concludes her career (she's 247 kills shy of second place), but she could possibly move up one more spot for career digs, needing 100 to move into a tie for sixth place in that category. Schmidt leads the Beavers with 15 double-doubles in 23 matches this season. For the year, she has team-highs of 326 kills and 286 digs, ranking third in the Pac-10 for digs (3.36 dpg) and eighth for kills (3.84 kpg). Schmidt has had 10 or more kills in 19 matches, including four with 20-plus, with a season-high 26 against UC Irvine. She also had 25 in a match against Northern Arizona. She's also had 10-plus digs in 16 matches, with 20-plus three times, including 22 in two of OSU's last four matches (against Washington and California).

COLLINS' CORNER: With solid outings in OSU's last three matches, Laura Collins has jumped up to fourth in the Pac-10 for assists average for the last two weeks after ranking either fifth or sixth all season until last week. Collins has 133 assists in the last three matches, for an average of 14.77 assists per game during that span, thus boosting her season average up to 12.40 assists per game. She's doing even better in conference matches, ranking third in the league with 12.59 apg. 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 1,042 assists for the year, which ranks 10th on the single-season assists list at OSU. She had a career-high 75 assists in OSU's win at Washington two weeks ago, with that total equalling OSU's sixth best single-match assists total for an individual. It's also good for the most assists by a Pac-10 player in a single match this season. Collins has also jumped into the top 10 for all-time assists at Oregon State, now ranking sixth with 1,110 career assists. Collins is a key defensive player for the Beavers as well, ranking fifth on the team with 169 digs (2.01 dpg). She's had 10 or more in six matches, including a career-high 14 against Oregon on October 10.

MIDDLES COULD EARN A SPOT IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Michele Solomon and Katrina Nelson could become the first Beavers since 1997 to earn a spot in the single-season hitting percentage category in the OSU record books if their current marks hold up. Solomon is hitting .337 and Nelson is at .322 heading into this week's matches. If those hold up, they would finish as the fourth and fifth best single-season marks at OSU (minimum of three attempts per game played). Solomon ranks second on the team with 226 kills (2.66 kpg) with double figures in 10 matches. Nelson ranks third on the team with 177 kills (2.27 kpg), with 10 or more in eight matches, including 12 against Oregon last week. Solomon leads OSU with 84 blocks (0.99 bpg), with Nelson second with 58 (0.74 bpg).

McMILLAN, HANNAFORD CONTINUE TO BATTLE FOR PLAYING TIME AT OPPOSITE: Opposite hitters Joscelyn Hannaford and Megan McMillan have been competing for playing time as of late, with each starting several matches over the last few weeks. Hannaford had started the first 15 matches of the year, with McMillan often playing in the back row. Lately, however, McMillan has been challenging as a six rotation player and as a result, there's been a battle for the starting job. In the last nine matches, Hannaford has started six times, while McMillan has gotten three starting bids. Both have made their case for playing time during that span. Two weeks ago against Cal, Hannaford hit .320 with 12 kills, one match after hitting .463 with a career-high 21 kills at Washington. Meanwhile, McMillan hit .467 with nine kills against Stanford two weeks ago and followed that up with a .292 percentage and seven kills at Oregon last week. She also came up big in the win over Arizona State on Oct. 19, hitting .579 with 12 kills. For the year, Hannaford has played in 73 games and ranks fourth on the team with 175 kills (2.40 kpg) to go along with 114 digs (1.56 dpg). McMillan has played in 69 games with 99 kills (1.43 kpg) and 161 digs (2.33 dpg).

DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE: Oregon State has relied on strong defensive play all year, ranking second in the Pac-10 with 17.35 digs per game. The Beavers, who were the top-ranked team in the league for digs for five weeks this season, have outdug their opponents in all but three of their 23 matches this season. Individually, Gina Schmidt ranks third in the Pac-10 overall (3.36 dpg) and is fourth in Pac-10 games (3.43 dpg), while Nikki Neuburger ranks 10th in Pac-10 games with 2.96 digs per game. For the year, Schmidt leads the team with 286 digs, while Neuburger is second with 226. Lori Daedelow became the third Beaver to reach 200 digs this season after posting 10 at Oregon last week, giving her exactly 200 (2.50 dpg) on the year to rank third on the team. Jessica Papell needs 14 more to reach 200 as well, ranking fourth on the team with 186 digs (2.33 dpg). Three other Beavers also have at least 100 digs. OSU has two of the top five single-match team totals in the Pac-10 this year (110 against Washington State and 98 against Sacramento State). Eight Beavers have combined for 59 double-figure dig performances in 23 matches this season. Schmidt leads the way with 16, while Neuburger has had 14 double-figure efforts. Four Beavers have had matches with 20+ digs this year, led by Schmidt with three and Megan McMillan with two. Schmidt has had a season-high 22 digs in two of OSU's last four matches and became the first Beaver with 20 digs in a three-game match this year when she had 22 against Cal two weeks ago. McMillan had a career-high 25 against Northern Arizona and added 24 at home against WSU. K.C. Frederic had 24 against Sacramento State, while Daedelow had a career-high 20 at Arizona State.

BEAVERS SIT ATOP THE CHARTS IN SIX SINGLE-MATCH CATEGORIES: OSU's win at Washington (10/26) placed the Beavers atop the charts in three categories in the Pac-10's list of single-match season bests. OSU's 91 kills in that match was a season-high for the Beavers, and it was also good for the most kills by any Pac-10 team this year. In addition, OSU's 86 assists in that match were the most by a Pac-10 team this year, and Laura Collins' career-high 75 assists in that match is the highest single-match total by an individual in the Pac-10 this season. The Beavers also have the top marks in three other categories as a result of their efforts in other matches this year. OSU's 110 digs against Washington State (9/28) is the most in the conference this season, and Gina Schmidt holds the top marks for total attacks (75 at Northern Arizona, 9/8) and block solos (5 at Arizona State, 9/22).

REGIONAL RANKINGS: OSU has been ranked eighth in all three NCAA Regional Polls this year. The next poll will be released Nov. 14.

HEAD COACH NANCY SOMERA: The Beavers are under the direction of third-year head coach Nancy Somera. Somera, whose career record stands at 40-41, 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.

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