Volleyball Showcase Set For Friday And Saturday

Aug. 26, 2003

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THIS YEAR'S SHOWCASE: The Beavers (0-0, 0-0 Pacific-10) open the 2003 season with the annual OSU Volleyball Showcase, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, August 29-30. Joining OSU are Gonzaga, Mississippi State and Northern Arizona. Friday's action kicks off with OSU vs. Gonzaga at 5 p.m., followed by Mississippi State and Northern Arizona at 7 p.m. Saturday's schedule begins with OSU and MSU at 10 a.m., followed by Gonzaga and NAU at noon. Gonzaga meets MSU at 5:30 p.m., and OSU and NAU close out the weekend at 7:30 p.m. All matches will be played in Gill Coliseum, and admission is free.

WHO'S BACK FOR THE BEAVERS: OSU returns just half its players from the 2002 season after losing five senior starters and three other players. Still, the Beavers have plenty of talent coming back. Senior setter Laura Collins earned honorable mention All-Pacific-10 recognition last year, when she averaged 12.49 assists per game - second best in the conference. Junior outside hitter Allison Lawrence is back after leading the Beavers with 329 kills a year ago, and sophomore outside hitter Karah Rhoades has a year of experience under her belt after receiving honorable mention on the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team. Senior K.C. Frederic saw significant playing time as a defensive specialist last year and looks to be on the court more this season as the team's libero. Also back are junior middle blocker Amanda Eggert, sophomore middle blocker Katelyn Healy and sophomore setter Desma Stovall. OSU also gains the services of junior outside hitter Anne Watts-Roberts, who was on the team last year but could not play because of NCAA transfer rules. She was a first team All-Big Sky pick both years she played at Montana State, where she recorded 813 kills in two seasons with the Bobcats.

SOMERA LOOKING FOR WIN NUMBER 50: The first match the Beavers win this season will be head coach Nancy Somera's 50th career victory. Somera enters her fifth season at OSU with a career record of 49-66. She moved to Corvallis in 1999 after spending eight years as an assistant at Southern California, her alma mater. She was an All-Pac-10 Team selection for USC in 1987 and 1988.

A LOOK AT THE NEWCOMERS: Nearly half of OSU's players are freshmen, with six of the 14 players on the roster in their rookie season. Brittany Cahoon, a Student Sports Hot 100 Class of 2003 pick out of Shelton, Wash., will likely start at middle blocker for the Beavers, and several other rookies should contribute this season. Abby Windell, a right side hitter/middle blocker from Gresham, was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Oregon last season. Also new to the program are two other middle blockers, Michelle Franz (league MVP from the Sacramento area) and Rachael Withers (third team Oregon all-state selection). The Beavers also gain outside hitters in Kristin Murray (league MVP from Crescent City, Calif.) and Taylor Studzinski (first team all-state in Illinois).

SERIES RECORDS:
vs. Gonzaga
- The Beavers are 4-1 all-time against Gonzaga. The teams last met in 1996 at the Boise State Classic, where OSU defeated the Bulldogs, 3-0.

vs. Mississippi State - This will be the first meeting between OSU and MSU in the sport of volleyball. In fact, Saturday's match will be just the second time a Beaver volleyball team has played an opponent from Mississippi (Southern Miss visited Corvallis for the 1998 Volleyball Showcase).

vs. Northern Arizona - OSU and Northern Arizona have played once, in 2001 at NAU's Fiesta Bowl Tournament. The Lumberjacks beat the Beavers in five games. Three current Beavers saw action in that match. Laura Collins hit .364 with four kills, 57 assists, seven digs and four blocks in that match, and Amanda Eggert and K.C. Frederic also played.

A LOOK AT THE OPPONENTS:
Gonzaga
- Gonzaga struggled to a 4-24 record last under the direction of a new head coach, but the Bulldogs look to be stronger this year with four seniors and five starters returning. Abby Cullen, a two-time honorable mention All-WCC selection, returns after averaging 3.23 kills and 1.31 blocks per game last year, and Christina Davis, who led GU with 3.61 kills per game in 2002, also returns.

Mississippi State - MSU, which is making its first ever trip to the Pacific time zone, returns five starters from a 2002 team that went 10-20. Tanika Taylor led the Bulldogs with 3.08 digs per game last season, and Rachel Cooper was second on the team with 2.82 kills per game in 2002.

Northern Arizona - The Lumberjacks return four starters - including 2002 Big Sky Freshman of the Year Ellie Butterfield - from a team that finished 10-18 last year. Butterfield, who also earned honorable mention All-Big Sky last year, led the team with 3.20 kills per game and added 2.51 digs per game. Claire Robertson (8.97 apg, 1.92 kpg, 1.95 dpg) also returns after earning honorable mention All-Big Sky recognition last season.

CLOSING IN ON TOP THREE: Laura Collins enters her senior year ranked fourth on OSU's career assists list, with 2,602 in her first three seasons as a Beaver. She needs 259 more to pass Christine Camp, who had 2,860 while playing from 1989-1991.

WATTS-ROBERTS NEARING 1,000 KILLS: They won't all have come for the same team, but Anne Watts-Roberts will be looking to record her 1,000th career kill this season. The junior outside hitter played for Montana State in 2000 and 2001 before transferring to OSU last season, which she had to sit out due to NCAA rules. As a rookie in 2000, she was named the Big Sky Freshman of the Year after leading the Bobcats with 459 kills (4.25 kpg). She again led the team as a sophomore, when she posted 354 kills (3.89 kpg) for a two-year total of 813 heading into her junior year at Oregon State.

BEAVERS VERSUS BULLDOGS: Three of OSU's first eight matches this year will be against teams nicknamed Bulldogs. After opening with Gonzaga and Mississippi State this weekend, the Beavers will face the Fresno State Bulldogs in a tournament at Sacramento State next week.

PAC-10 PREDICTIONS: Oregon State was picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10 race according to a preseason vote by the league's head coaches. Defending NCAA champion USC was selected to repeat as Pac-10 champion this season. Stanford was second, followed by Arizona and UCLA, which tied for third. California, Washington, Arizona State, Washington State, OSU and Oregon round out the poll.

BEAVERS ON TV: Oregon State will be on television twice this season. OSU's matches at Arizona on Oct. 17 and at California on Nov. 20 will be televised by FOX Sports Net on a delayed basis.

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