Volleyball Opens 2003 Season At Tourney In Hawai'i

Aug. 19, 2003

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The Facts
The top-ranked 2003 USC women's volleyball team - the defending NCAA and Pac-10 champions - opens the season this week at the State Farm Volleyball Classic presented by the National Association of Collegiate Women's Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) in Honolulu, Hawai'i. This premier two-day event, held annually at different host sites, will feature three of last year's Final Four teams. In a rematch of the 2002 NCAA Semifinals, No. 1 USC and No. 3 Florida will open the tournament on Friday, Aug. 22, at 5 p.m. HST, followed by No. 2 Hawai'i versus No. 15 Kansas State at 7 p.m. HST. The consolation match will take place on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 5 p.m., followed by the championship match at 7 p.m.

The championship match will be tape delayed by ESPN2 on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 2:30 p.m. EST. The other matches will be televised locally on Hawaii's K5 network. Audio broadcasts can be heard at the Florida (www.gatorzone.com) and Hawai'i (www.uhathletics.hawaii.edu) websites.

USC returns 10 letterwinners and all seven starters (including the libero) from last year's Pac-10 and NCAA Championship squad. Head coach Mick Haley enters his third season at the helm of the Women of Troy program.

The Rankings
USC pulled in 64 of the possible 65 first-place votes to out-distance second-place Hawai'i and earn the top ranking in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll. The Women of Troy also earned the top spot in the Volleyball magazine preseason poll.

2002 Recap
Last year's USC women's volleyball team, boasting five-of-six returning starters, clinched sole possession of the 2002 Pac-10 title with a 17-1 conference record. The Trojans got past the first four rounds of the NCAA Tournament with ease and took care of Florida in the NCAA Semifinal in four games. After splitting victories with Stanford during the regular season, USC captured a four-game win over the Cardinal in the final for its first NCAA Championship in more than 20 years. The Women of Troy were 31-1 overall. USC's efforts were led by April Ross (All-America, All-Pac-10), Emily Adams (All-America, All-Pac-10), Katie Olsovsky (All-Pac-10, NCAA All-Tournament) and Keao Burdine (All-Pac-10, NCAA Championship MVP).

Can They Do It Again?
That's the question for the Women of Troy as they embark on the 2003 season. It is a question they have not had to answer in more than 20 years after capturing their previous national championship in 1981 - the first-ever NCAA title awarded in the sport. Now, following one of the greatest seasons in the history of Trojan volleyball that culminated in the program's fifth national championship, the 2003 squad will try to duplicate the effort in hopes of a repeat. It would be the third time USC had back-to-back national crowns (also in 1976-77 and 1980-81).

Emily Adams: One Inch Taller, One Year Wiser
Junior co-captain Emily Adams was the biggest surprise on last year's national championship squad. After making limited appearances as a freshman, Adams burst onto the volleyball season in 2002 and dominated at middle blocker. She went from bench-warmer to an AVCA All-America first team selection. Last season she finished third nationally with a .423 attack percentage and was honored as a Honda Award volleyball finalist. Now she's one year older and one inch taller! Adams was recently measured at 6-6, making her the tallest player to ever play for the Women of Troy.

April Ross Enters Final Season Looking For Second Title
Senior team co-captain April Ross was one of five freshmen who joined the Women of Troy in 2000 and have since made a dramatic impact on the USC volleyball program. As newcomers, all five players said that they wanted to lead USC to a national championship, but Ross went one step further. In her freshman bio questionnaire she wrote that she wanted to 'win a couple of NCAA championships.'

As a three-year starter, Ross will leave USC as one of its all-time greatest players. Last season she earned her first AVCA All-America first team honor and third consecutive All-Pac-10 first team honor. She led the team with an average of 3.61 kills, 0.43 service aces (both marks rank third among USC single season records) and 4.41 points per game, in addition to finishing second on the team in digs (3.0 dpg) and fourth in blocks (0.64 bpg). Ross currently ranks among USC's top 10 career leaders in kills per game (3.75), attacks (2855), service aces (102), service aces per game (0.25), digs (940) and digs per game (3.03).

Famous Fathers
This season, USC has two new additions to its roster of famous fathers. Joining Alvan Adams (Emily's father and 14-year veteran of the NBA) and Truck Robinson (Alicia's father and 10-year veteran of the NBA) is Mike Montgomery (father of freshman Anne Montgomery) and Marv Dunphy (father of freshman Alex Dunphy). Montgomery is the men's basketball head coach at Stanford, while Dunphy is the men's volleyball head coach at Pepperdine.

Bibiana Candelas No Longer A Secret Weapon
A 6-foot-5 standout on the Mexican National Team, sophomore Bibiana Candelas enters her second year at USC. Last season, many considered Candelas the 'secret weapon' on an already deep and talented USC squad. After missing the first two weeks of the season while competing with Mexico, Candelas was not cleared to start competing until late October, missing the majority of the regular season. But Candelas joined the squad in time to provide a much-needed spark for the Women of Troy as they headed into the NCAA Tournament. Candelas only played 15 matches, but averaged 2.0 kills, 0.43 blocks and 2.28 points per game, in addition to a .352 attack percentage. Though she's not a 'secret' anymore, look for her to make a dramatic impact this season.

The Latin Influence
Bibiana Candelas is no longer the only international player on the USC roster. This year she is joined by freshman defensive specialist/libero Debora Seilhamer, who hails from Ponce, Puerto Rico. Both players prepped at Colegio Ponce�o in Puerto Rico for one year (2001-02).

Time To Take Notice
It's time to take notice of senior setter Toni Anderson and junior outside hitter Keao Burdine - two players who have been overlooked the past two seasons, but whose contributions are noteworthy.

Anderson may be one of the best setters in collegiate volleyball, but many of her individual contributions have gone unnoticed due to the Trojans' 6-2 system. Sharing setting duties with former setter Tracy Lindquist for the past three years, Anderson has helped drive the Women of Troy to success but sacrificed individual accolades for the benefit of the team. The two setters finished second nationally with 16.29 assists per game in 2002, while Anderson averaged 8.42 assists per game and was named to the All-Pac-10 honorable mention team.

Like Anderson, Burdine is the type of player who has flown under the radar, but her contributions are unmatched. Next to Ross, she is the most powerful force for the Women of Troy at the outside hitter position. Last season, the 6-foot-1 Burdine finished second on the team in kills (3.28 kpg) and service aces (0.28 sapg), and finished third in digs (2.98 dpg) and points (3.81 ppg). She earned her first All-Pac-10 first team honor and was selected to the AVCA All-Pacific Region honorable mention team. Despite sometimes being overlooked, Burdine made her presence known when she combined for 3.9 kills, 0.5 aces, 3.0 digs and 4.6 points per game in the final two rounds of the NCAA Tournament to be named NCAA Championship MVP (the third USC player to ever earn the honor, along with Tracy Clark in 1982 and Cathy Stukel in 1981).

USC Represents U.S.A.
For the third consecutive year, USC was well represented on the national volleyball scene. Nine of the Trojans' 10 returning players were all selected for various national team programs in the summer of 2003. April Ross, Emily Adams and Katie Olsovsky competed with the U.S.A. Women's National team. All three trained in Colorado Springs, Colo., while Olsovsky continued competing with the team at the Pan American Games. Toni Anderson, Nicole Davis, Keao Burdine, Alicia Robinson (who did not accept an invitation due to injuries) and Staci Venski were invited to train with the U.S.A. A2 Women's National Team coached by USC assistant coach Paula Weishoff in Lake Placid, N.Y. Bibiana Candelas rejoined Mexico's National Team for the summer and competed at the Pan American Games.

2003 Team Co-Captains
This year's team co-captain, as voted on by the players, are senior April Ross and junior Emily Adams. The is the first year Ross has held the role, but the fourth-year starter has served as a floor captain for the team since her freshman year.

Reaching New Heights
The 2003 squad boasts the tallest lineup of hitters and blockers in recent history at USC (and equals the average height of the 2002 squad). The Trojans' hitters and blockers average 6-foot-3 and as a team USC stands at 6-0.

Head Coach Mick Haley
Mick Haley is in his third season as head coach of the Women of Troy. In 2002, he collected his fifth career national title (three NCAA Division I titles, two JC titles) just two years after arriving at Troy. Haley guided the Women of Troy to the program's first NCAA championship in more than 20 years and became just the second coach in NCAA history to win a national title at two universities (John Dunning is the other). Though hired in 1999 to replace former head coach Lisa Love, Haley completed his term as head coach of the U.S.A. Women's National Team before joining the Trojans in 2001. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, he led the United States to an unexpected fourth-place finish. Haley coached Texas for 17 seasons (1980-1996) and led the Longhorns to two national championships. He boasts a 829-193-1 (.811) overall record, 578-142 (.803) NCAA Division I record and a 183-13 (.934) career conference mark.

Opponent Notes

Hawai'i/Florida/Kansas State Connections
* Nicole Davis and Florida's Lauren Moscovic both hail from Stockton, Calif. Davis prepped at Lincoln High, while Moscovic attended St. Mary's High.
* Freshman Debora Seilhamer and Florida's Aury Cruz both hail from Puerto Rico.
* Florida boasts two Californians on its roster (Lauren Moscovic and Jacque Robinson), Hawai'i has four (Susie Boogaard, Melody Eckmeier, Lauren Duggins and Melissa Villaroman) and Kansas State has one Californian (Laura Downey-Wallace).

#3 Florida -- Florida finished the 2002 campaign with a 34-3 overall record and a No. 4 ranking in the final poll. The Gators won their 12th-consecutive Southeastern Conference title with an undefeated conference mark (16-0) and advanced to the NCAA Semifinals with wins over Central Florida, South Florida, Temple and Washington State. Florida was eventually eliminated by the Women of Troy. Ranked No. 3 in this year's preseason poll, the Gators return an experienced squad, including 5-of-6 starters and 10 total letterwinners. The team will be led by first team All-American outside hitter Aury Cruz and third team All-American middle blocker Benevia Jenkins. Under 12th-year head coach Mary Wise, the Gators welcome three newcomers in 2003.

USC-Florida Series Record -- The USC-Florida match on Aug. 22 will not only showcase a rematch of the 2002 NCAA Semifinals, but also mark only the second time these two teams have faced each other during the regular season. The Trojans are 3-1 all-time against the Gators (2-1 in the postseason, 1-0 in the regular season). Last year, the Women of Troy defeated the Gators twice - 3-0 at the start of the season at the BYU Mizuno Classic on Sept. 22 and 3-1 at the Final Four on Dec. 19.

'02 Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	Bpg
Florida 16.24 .318 14.31 1.70 14.32 3.09
USC 17.61 .292 16.29 1.48 16.47 3.15

#2 Hawai'i -- Hawai'i is coming off a 34-2 season in 2002 that saw the Rainbow Wahine earn their seventh-consecutive WAC regular-season title with a 13-0 record. Hawai'i also captured its third WAC Tournament title. The Rainbow Wahine advanced to the NCAA Final Four with wins over Western Kentucky, Washington, North Carolina and Nebraska, before losing to Stanford, 3-0, in the semifinals. The Cardinal handed Hawai'i its only two losses all season. In his 29th season, head coach Dave Shoji welcomes back three All-Americans in senior outside hitters Lily Kahumoku and Kim Willoughby and middle blocker Lauren Duggins. Hawai'i returns all six starters and a total of 10 letterwinners. Hawai'i welcomes three newcomers in 2003.

USC-Hawai'i Series Record -- This series dates back to the program's inaugural year. The two teams first met in 1976 during regular season play. In 1977, the Trojans met Hawai'i in the championship final and defeated the Wahine, 3-1, for their second national title. Hawai'i owns the all-time series advantage with a 17-15 (.531) record. The two teams last met in 2001 when USC defeated the Rainbows 3-0 at the Aston Imua Challenge in Honolulu at the start of the season.

'02 Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	Bpg
Hawai'i 18.19 .329 16.72 1.54 18.79 2.87
USC 17.61 .292 16.29 1.48 16.47 3.15

#15 Kansas State -- In 2002, Kansas State posted a 21-9 overall record and a 16-4 mark in Big 12 Conference play en route to its seventh straight NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats defeated Michigan, 3-0, in the first round of the NCAAs before falling 3-1 to Washington State in the second round. KSU was ranked No. 21 in the final poll of 2002 and enters this season at No. 15 - the program's highest-ever preseason ranking. The team welcomes two newcomers and returns all six starters, including middle blocker Lauren Goehring, outside hitter Cari Jensen and setter Gabby Guerre. Head coach Suzie Fritz is in her third season at Kansas State.

USC-Kansas State Series Record -- If USC and Kansas State meet in the second round of the NACWAA Tournament, it will mark only the second-ever match between the two schools. The first meeting was in 1977 when USC defeated Kansas State 2-0 at the AIAW Championship Tournament in Provo, Utah.

'02 Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	Bpg
Kansas State 15.58 .240 13.79 1.52 18.01 2.59
USC 17.61 .292 16.29 1.48 16.47 3.15
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