Pacific-10 Volleyball Action Heats Up This Week

Sept. 17, 2002

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THIS WEEK: The Oregon State volleyball team (5-3) looks to get back on the winning track when Pacific-10 action begins this week. OSU takes a three-match losing streak north to the Evergreen State, where the Beavers will face Washington (8-1) at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 19 and No. 20 Washington State (9-0) at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20.

COMMENTS FROM COACH NANCY SOMERA:
'We didn't do as well as we'd have liked to this past weekend, but we still had a great preseason. We're excited to get the conference season started.'

RECAPPING LAST WEEK'S ACTION: The Beavers dropped three matches at the Minnesota Nike Invitational after opening the season 5-0. OSU's competition at Minnesota included two ranked opponents, the first of many Top 25 teams on the Beavers' schedule this year. OSU lost to No. 13 Minnesota (3-0/30-20, 30-22, 30-22), No. 20 North Carolina (3-1/30-18, 25-30, 30-28, 30-27), and Ball State (3-2/27-30, 30-21, 28-30, 30-27, 15-7) at last week's tournament. The Beavers hit just .151 in the three matches, significantly lower than the .312 mark in the team's first five matches. Megan McMillan led the team with 46 kills (3.83 kpg), including a career-high 20 in the loss to UNC. Michele Solomon and Allison Lawrence each added 29 kills. Nikki Neuburger led the Beavers with 46 digs (3.83 dpg).

SERIES RECORDS: vs. Washington: The Beavers are 22-33 all-time against the Huskies, but OSU has won the last two meetings after picking up two wins a year ago (3-0 at OSU and 3-2 in Seattle). vs. Washington State: OSU is 26-35 all-time against the Cougars. The teams split the series last year, with each team winning on its home court (OSU won 3-1 in Corvallis; WSU won 3-0 in Pullman). The Beavers have not beaten WSU in Pullman since 1990, when OSU won in three games.

A LOOK AT WASHINGTON: The Huskies (8-1) won the Mean Green Classic at North Texas last week by posting 3-0 wins over North Texas, Louisiana Tech and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. In fact, all eight of UW's wins this season have been 3-0 sweeps; the Huskies' only setback this year came at the hands of No. 3 Hawaii in four games. Paige Benjamin leads the team with 150 kills (5.36 kpg, second in the Pac-10) and is hitting .396, while Kara Bjorklund leads the Pac-10 with a .504 hitting percentage (2.50 kpg). The Huskies lead the conference as a team as well, posting a .337 team percentage. Washington also leads the Pac-10 with 2.68 service aces per game.

A LOOK AT WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars jumped up five spots to No. 20 in the latest Top 25 poll after picking up three more wins last week to improve to 9-0 on the year. WSU won the USF Molten Golden Gate Classic with 3-0 wins over Butler, Indiana-Purdue/Fort Wayne and San Francisco. Washington State has lost just one game all season, with that being game two of a 3-1 win over Nevada in the first match of the year. The Cougars are led by the one-two punch of Adrian Hankoff and LaToya Harris. Hankoff leads the team and ranks ninth in the Pac-10 with 3.77 kills per game, while Harris is right behind with 3.75 kills per game, 10th in the league. Hankoff is also ninth for hitting percentage (.370), fifth for aces (0.57 sapg) and eighth for digs (3.15 dpg). Kortney Jamtaas leads the Pac-10 with 4.19 digs per game.

GETTING 'SET' FOR A GREAT MATCH-UP: Laura Collins, who ranks second in the Pac-10 and 13th nationally for assists per game (13.14 apg), will go head-to-head with the league's No. 1 and No. 3 setters this week. She'll meet the league's top setter - Washington's Gretchen Maurer (13.89 apg/3rd in the nation) - on Thursday. Collins will face off against No. 3 - WSU's Brynn Larson (13.11 apg/15th nationally) on Friday.

DEFENSIVE DUEL: Friday's match in Pullman will feature the top two defensive teams in the Pac-10. OSU leads the Pac-10 and ranks 14th nationally with 18.28 digs per game, while the Cougars are second in the Pac-10 and 26th nationally with 17.54 a game. OSU has outdug its opponents in six of its eight matches this year, and the Beavers have three of the top four team totals in the Pac-10. Their 92 digs against North Carolina (9/14) is the most in the Pac-10, with OSU also ranking second (88 vs. Ball State, 9/14) and fourth (82, vs. Missouri, 8/31). Individually, WSU's Kortney Jamtaas leads the league with 4.19 dpg, but OSU boasts the No. 2 and 3 players in Nikki Neuburger (2nd, 3.97 dpg) and Joscelyn Hannaford (3rd, 3.67 dpg).

RECORD WATCH: Laura Collins heads into the week with 1,746 career assists, fifth best on OSU's all-time list. She needs just 20 more to pass Kristy Wing (1,765/1989-91) and move into the No. 4 spot.

PLAYING THE BEST: Oregon State's 2002 schedule is one of the toughest in recent years for the Beavers. The schedule includes 13 matches against eight teams that are ranked in this week's AVCA/USA Today Top 25 poll and an additional three matches against two teams that are receiving votes. OSU has already played three of those teams. The Beavers lost matches to No. 13 Minnesota and No. 20 North Carolina, but defeated Missouri, a team currently receiving votes. Five Pac-10 teams are ranked and one other is receiving votes, and one additional non-conference opponent is ranked.

BEAVERS PICKED SIXTH IN PAC-10 RACE: OSU has been picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 race, according to a preseason coaches poll. Stanford was selected No. 1, followed by USC, Arizona, UCLA, Washington State, OSU, Arizona State, California, Washington and Oregon. The Beavers finished fifth in last year's Pac-10 race after being picked eighth in the preseason poll. OSU posted a 10-8 record in league play last season, finishing with double-figure wins for just the second time since Pac-10 play began in 1986 (OSU went 11-7 in 1990 when it finished third, its best-ever Pac-10 finish).

HEAD COACH NANCY SOMERA: OSU is under the direction of fourth-year head coach Nancy Somera. Somera, whose career record stands at 46-49, arrived at OSU in February 1999 after spending time as an assistant coach at USC since 1991. Last season, Somera guided the Beavers to a 17-12 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history. 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.

OSU PLAYER NOTES
#1 Lianne Dela Cruz, Jr., DS

Has played in 27 of 29 games... Has 43 digs, for an average of 1.59 dpg... Had a season-best seven digs against both Idaho State and Missouri (both on 8/31).

#3 Karah Rhoades, RS-Fr., OH
Has seen action in 16 games as a backup outside hitter... Hitting .123 with 20 kills (1.25 kpg)... Had her best match against Missouri, when she had six kills while hitting .313.

#4 Tami Halleck, Sr., DS
Has played in two matches, Idaho State and Boise State, for her first collegiate playing time... Was brought in to serve one play in both matches.

#5 Michele Solomon, Sr., MB
One of four Beavers to have played in all 29 games... Hitting .317 (tops on the team among players with at least 100 attempts) and has 70 kills (2.41 kpg)... Had a season-high 15 kills against Ball State last week... Hit. a career-best .591 with 13 kills against Cal State Northridge... Ranks second on the team with 20 blocks, including a season-high in the Ball State match... Now has 354 total blocks, seventh best all-time at OSU... Also ranks eighth for career hitting percentage (.268).

#9 Desma Stovall, Fr., S
Has played in four games in limited action as a backup setter... Had four assists against Boise State (9/7)... Also had two service aces in that match.

#13 Joscelyn Hannaford, Sr., Opp.
Ranks second on the team for kills (83, 3.46 kpg), with double-figures in three matches... Had a career-high 24 kills against Missouri (8/31), the most by a Beaver and third best by a Pac-10 player this season... Has had double-figures in three matches... Averaging 3.67 digs per game, ranking third in the Pac-10... Has had double-digits in five matches, with a season-high of 17 twice... Has three double-doubles... Earned Most Valuable Player honors at the OSU Challenge (9-6/9-7) and also earned all-tournament honors at the OSU Showcase... Served a career-high five aces against Cal State Northridge (9/7), the most by an OSU player this season.

#14 K.C. Frederic, Jr., DS/OH
Has played in 15 games... Has 20 digs (1.33 dpg) for the season, with all of them coming in two matches... Had 11 digs against Ball State and nine against North Carolina last week... Also had a kill and an ace in the Ball State match.

#15 Megan McMillan, Sr., OH
One of four players to see action in all 29 games... Has emerged as one of OSU's top all-around players... Leads the Beavers with 111 kills (3.83 kills per game, 8th best in the Pac-10)... Has had double-figures in six matches, including a career-high 20 against North Carolina last week... Has been the team's kill leader in five matches... Hitting .275.... Has 90 digs (3.10 dpg), with double-figures six times and a season-high of 16 against Missouri (8/31)... Led the team in digs three times... Has had five double-doubles... Tied for second on the team with nine aces... Earned all-tournament honors at the OSU Challenge (9/6-9/7).

#16 Katelyn Healy, RS-Fr., OH
Has played in one game (vs. Boise State).

#19 Katrina Nelson, Sr., MB
Has played in 26 of 29 games this season... Hitting .252 with 58 kills (2.23 kpg)... Had a season-high 12 kills against North Carolina last week for her second double-figure effort of the year... Hit .320 with 10 kills against Missouri (8/31)... Leads the team with 23 blocks (0.88 bpg).

#21 Amanda Eggert, So., MB
Had a season-high six kills and a career-high four blocks against Ball State last week... Has played in 16 of 29 games this season and is hitting a team-best .375 with 19 kills (1.19 kpg)... Served three aces over the past weekend for the first of her career.

#22 Allison Lawrence, So., OH
Has played in 28 of 29 games... Averaging 2.82 kills per game (79 total) while hitting .193... Had her first two double-doubles of the year last week, with both coming on the same day... Against North Carolina she had 13 kills and 14 digs, which were both career-highs until she broke both marks against Ball State later that day... Had 16 kills and 15 digs against the Cardinals to set new career marks... Tied for second on the team with nine aces... Earned all-tournament honors at the OSU Showcase the first week of the season.

#23 Laura Collins, Jr., S
Has dished out 381 assists so far, good for 13.14 per game to rank second in the Pac-10 and 13th nationally... Has had 64 assists twice (vs. North Carolina and Missouri) and is the only Pac-10 player to record more than 60 assists in a match this year... Has 1746 career assists, fifth all-time at OSU and 20 away from fourth place... Has 64 digs this season (2.21 dpg), including a season-high 15 against North Carolina last week... Hitting .143 with 24 kills (0.83 kpg)... Named to the all-tournament teams at the OSU Showcase (MVP honors) and OSU Challenge.

#31 Nikki Neuburger, Sr., L
Leads the team and ranks second in the Pac-10 with 3.97 digs per game (115 total)... Has the top two dig totals in the Pac-10 this year, with a career-high 24 against Ball State (9/14) and 23 against Cal State Northridge (9/7)... Has had double figures in six matches this year and has been the team's dig leader in four matches.

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