Volleyball Makes Fourth-Consecutive Trip To NCAA Regionals

Dec. 10, 2003

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The Facts
The undefeated and top-ranked USC women's volleyball team (31-0, 18-0 Pac-10) - selected as the tournament's top seed overall - received its 13th consecutive bid to the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship, and is making its 21st overall appearance. After sweeping the first two rounds of play, USC -- the 2003 Pac-10 Champion -- travels to Lincoln, Neb. for the NCAA Central Regional. The Women of Troy will face 17th-ranked Texas A&M (23-9) on Friday, Dec. 12, at 4:30 p.m. CST at the NU Coliseum. If USC advances, the Trojans will play Saturday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. CST against the winner of Friday's UCLA/ Nebraska match-up. All of USC's matches can be heard live on www.usctrojans.com.

Friday, Dec. 12 - 4:30 p.m. CST
#17 Texas A&M vs. #1 USC

Friday, Dec. 12 - 7 p.m. CST
#7 UCLA vs. #9 Nebraska

Saturday, Dec. 13 - 7 p.m. CST
Texas A&M/USC vs. UCLA/Nebraska

The winner of the regional final advances to the NCAA Championship semifinals and finals to be played Dec. 18 and 20 at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Led by third-year head coach Mick Haley, the Women of Troy are coming off two 3-0 victories over New Hampshire and 15th-ranked Loyola Marymount in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA First Round Recap......... def. New Hampshire, 3-0
USC opened the 2003 NCAA Tournament with a 3-0 sweep (30-17, 30-18, 30-17) of America East Conference champion New Hampshire on Dec. 5. Emily Adams led the Women of Troy with 12.5 points thanks to a match-high nine kills and five blocks. Bibiana Candelas also had an outstanding performance, hitting .538 thanks to seven kills off of 13 attacks and no errors. Libero Nicole Davis led with 13 digs. New Hampshire's Alyson Coler had a team-best 10 points and 10 kills, but hit at a .189 clip. Teammate Karen Harrington led with a .455 attack percentage (5-0-11) as only one of two players to finish above .200 for the match. Libero Sasha Scott collected 14 digs in the effort. USC spread the offense, with all players seeing time on the court.

NCAA Second Round Recap......... def. Loyola Marymount, 3-0
Four players contributed double digit scoring as USC defeated 15th-ranked Loyola Marymount, 3-0 (30-16, 30-22, 30-16), in the NCAA Second Round played at the Lyon Center on Dec. 6. Bibiana Candelas, April Ross, Katie Olsovsky and Emily Adams all posted doubles figures in the three-game match. Candelas led with 15.5 points thanks to five blocks and 13 kills, in addition to hitting at a .500 clip. Ross had 14.5 points, a match-best 14 kills, 13 digs and a .520 attack effort. Adams and Olsovsky each had an identical 12 points, nine kills and five blocks. The Lions' Dina DeBernardi and Nicole Oehlman were the only two LMU players to hit above .200 in the match. DeBernardi led with a team-high nine kills and .348 attack percentage, while Oehlman posted a .300 hitting percentage and four kills. USC's size and depth was just too much for Loyola Marymount to combat. The Women of Troy out-hit (.431 to .126), out-blocked (12.5 to 5.5) and out-dug (54 to 35) the Lions.

Charting the Streaks
USC has won its last 43 consecutive matches (dating back to 11/2/02 when they lost 3-2 to Stanford at home), 20 consecutive home matches and 32 consecutive road matches. The Trojans have not dropped a road match since the 2001 season (a 3-1 loss at Stanford, 11/10/01).

USC Just Two Wins Shy Of Setting NCAA Record
With a program record 43 straight NCAA victories**, the Women of Troy are just two wins shy of setting the NCAA Division I record for consecutive matches won. Penn State currently owns the mark with 44 straight wins collected from Aug. 31 through Dec. 7, 1990. UCLA is second on the list with 43 consecutive wins between 1991 and 1992.

**The Trojans overall program record is 56 straight wins set from 1976 to 1978, before volleyball was recognized as an NCAA sport.

The Rankings
After entering the season at No. 1, the Women of Troy have held on to the top spot every week. USC kept all 65 first-place votes to remain No. 1 on this week's USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll and the top spot in the Volleyball magazine poll.

The Only Unbeaten Team
USC is the only Division I team to make it through the 2003 regular season undefeated. It is also only the second time in program history that the Women of Troy have accomplished the feat. The first was in 1977 when USC finished the regular season at 26-0 and went on to win the AIAW National Championship with a final 38-0 overall mark.

Only three teams in NCAA and AIAW women's volleyball history have managed to go undefeated en route to winning a national title. USC did so in 1977, followed by Long Beach State in 1998 and Nebraska in 2000.

2003 NCAA Tournament Notes
Sixteen first and second round matches were played Dec. 4 through Dec. 7 on the campuses of participating institutions. Winners advanced to this week's regional tournaments held Dec. 12-15 at four predesignated regional campus sites (for the first time in NCAA women's volleyball history), including Long Beach State, Nebraska, Florida and Hawai'i. All four regional finals will be televised by ESPN and broadcast on local cable affiliates (see page 1, top box).

The four regional winners advance to the national championship hosted by the Big 12 Conference and the Dallas Convention and Visitor's Bureau in Dallas, Texas. The semifinal matches will be played on Dec. 18 and the championship game will take place on Saturday, Dec. 20. USC (Lincoln, Neb. Regional), Pepperdine (Long Beach, Calif. Regional), Florida (Gainesville, Fla. Regional) and Hawai'i (Honolulu, Hawai'i Regional) were selected as the top seeds in each region.

ESPN will air the semifinals and championship matches. The first tournament semifinal will be tape delayed by ESPN2 on Dec. 18 at 11 p.m. EST. The second semifinal will also be tape delayed by ESPN on Dec. 19 at 3:30 p.m. EST. The national championship match will be broadcast live Dec. 20 at 3:30 p.m. EST on ESPN2.

USC History In The NCAAs
The Women of Troy are making their 13th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and their 21st overall since the tournament's inception in 1981. USC has only missed the tournament twice, in 1986 and 1990, after posting its only two losing seasons in program history. With a 41-18 (.695) all-time NCAA tournament record, USC has won two NCAA national championships (including last season) and advanced to the Final Four on five occasions, including in 2000 and 2002.

Led by All-Americans Dana Smith and Cathy Stukel, the Trojans claimed the first-ever NCAA women's volleyball title in 1981. Entering the tournament as underdogs on a four-match losing streak, USC won when it counted by beating UCLA in the championship match after being down 2-1. The team ended the 1981 season with a 27-10 overall record and the title in hand.

First team All-Americans April Ross and Emily Adams led the Women of Troy to the 2002 NCAA championship. With the talent of five-of-six returners, USC was more determined than ever to make it back to the NCAA semifinals (after advancing to the Final Four in 2000). 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 victory over the Cardinal for its first national championship in more than 20 years.

USC also won AIAW national titles in 1976, 1977 and 1980.

Fan Support Highlights Women of Troy Season
The Women of Troy have enjoyed great fan support this season. USC has played in front of seven 1,000+ crowds this season, including a season-best 1,893 who attended the USC-UCLA match on Nov. 21.

USC Notches 12 Wins Over Ranked Teams
USC faced 13 ranked opponents this season and all of its ranked foes have been ranked among the top 15 (11 of the 13 have been ranked among the top 10). With arguably the nation's toughest schedule, USC defeated No. 2 Hawai'i (Aug. 22), No. 3 Florida (Aug. 21), No. 8 Northern Iowa (Aug. 30), No. 8 Pepperdine (Sept. 3), No. 13 Washington (Oct. 4), No. 7 Stanford (Oct. 17), No. 10 Washington (Oct. 31), No. 9 California (Nov. 15), No. 8 UCLA (Nov. 21) and No. 15 Loyola Marymount (Dec. 6), all by 3-0 scores, and beat No. 9 UCLA (Sept. 19), 3-1, No. 5 California (Oct. 18), 3-2, and No. 7 Stanford (Nov. 14), 3-1.

Pac-10 Features Five Top-15 Teams, All Advance
For the first time in conference history five Pac-10 teams advanced to the Sweet 16, and all with 3-0 sweeps in the first two rounds (Six Pac-10 teams earned NCAA bids but Arizona was defeated in the opener). The Pac-10 makes up 31.3 percent of the remaining NCAA Tournament field. All five teams are also currently ranked in the top 15, including No. 1 USC, No. 5 Stanford, No. 7 UCLA, No. 8 California and No. 14 Washington.

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 USC 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 U.S. 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 860-193-1 (.817) overall record, 610-142 (.811) NCAA Division I record and a 201-13 (.939) career conference mark.

Opponent Notes

No. 17 Texas A&M
(23-9, 13-7 for fourth place in Big 12 Conference)
The 17th-ranked and 16th-seeded Aggies advanced to the NCAA Regionals by beating Nicolls State, 3-0, and Wisconsin, 3-0, last week. The Aggies, which received an at-large bid after tying for third in the Big 12 Conference, are making their sixth regional appearance, including their third in the last five years. Texas A&M is led by two-time All-Big 12 selection Melissa Munsch. The junior middle blocker/outside hitter is averaging a team-best of 3.73 kills, 0.38 aces and 4.69 points per game. Munsch is also second on the squad with 1.06 blocks per game. Middle blocker Kendra Felder leads the team with 1.08 blocks per game. Setters Kari Kelley and Lexy Beers share setting duties, averaging 6.89 and 8.75 assists per game, respectively. Head coach Laurie Corbelli is in her 11th season in College Station.

USC, Texas A&M Meet In Early-Season Tourney
Katie Olsovsky helped lead USC to a 3-0 (30-27, 30-15, 30-22) victory over Texas A&M in the final match of the McDonald's-Texas A&M Invitational on Sept. 13. The Women of Troy captured the tournament championship with sweeps over Centenary, Southwest Missouri State and the Aggies. With help from 2,846 loud and enthusiastic fans, the Aggies were at the top of their game at the start of the match. Texas A&M jumped out to an 11-7 lead and maintained the advantage for most of the first game thanks to a near-flawless defensive effort. It was not until 24-24 that the Women of Troy managed to gain momentum and take the lead. USC outscored the Aggies 7-to-3 down the stretch to win 30-27. The let down of the first game seemed to overwhelm the Aggies, who saw the Women of Troy roll to a 30-15 victory in game two. The Trojans out-powered the Aggies in the final game thanks to the play of Olsovsky. She had six of her 16 kills in the set as USC captured a final 30-22 game win.

USC-Texas A&M Connections
* Texas A&M has three players that hail from California - senior middle blocker Tara Pulaski (Encinitas, Calif.), junior setter Lexy Beers (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and junior outside hitter Carrie Moreira (Stockton, Calif.).
* Beers prepped at Manhattan Beach's Mira Costa High, neighbor school to Bishop Montgomery in Torrance where Katie Olsovsky attended.
* Moreira prepped at Stockton's St. Mary's High, neighbor school to Lincoln High, also in Stockton, where Nicole Davis attended.

Haley's Texas Ties
Head coach Mick Haley spent 17 years of his career in the state of Texas, but not in College Station. In nearby Austin, Haley led the Texas Longhorns, the Aggies' top rival, to two national championships (1988 NCAA, 1981 AIAW) and 14 Southwest Conference titles.

USC-Texas A&M Series Record - USC and Texas A&M have faced each other five times, including this season's early match-up where USC beat TAMU, 3-0. This is also the second straight year (and third overall) the two teams meet in the NCAA Tournament. The Women of Troy defeated the Aggies, 3-0, last year in the second round, as well as in the 1998 second round (3-1). The first meeting between these two teams took place in 1978 (USC won 2-0).

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	Bpg
Texas A&M 16.34 .253 15.03 1.30 17.22 2.61
USC 17.73 .355 16.36 1.64 16.33 3.23

No. 7 UCLA
(23-8, 12-6 for third place tie in Pac-10 Conference)

UCLA, seventh-ranked and eighth-seeded, advanced to its fourth NCAA Regional in the last five seasons with wins over San Diego, 3-0, and UC Irvine, 3-0, last week. The Bruins are making their seventh consecutive trip in the NCAAs and have appeared in 22 of the 23 Tournaments. The team is led by middle blocker Brynn Murphy, outside hitter Heather Cullen and libero Chrissie Zartman, who all earned All-Pac-10 first team honors. Zartman averages a team-best 4.51 digs per game, Murphy leads the team with 3.82 kills per game and ranks second with 0.95 blocks per game, while Cullen ranks second with 2.86 kills and 2.26 digs per game. Head coach Andy Banachowski is in his 37th season at the helm of the UCLA program.

USC-UCLA Match-Up Could Impact Lexus Gauntlet
If USC and UCLA meet in the regional final, the match could impact the 2003 Lexus Gauntlet standings. The Lexus Gauntlet is a season-long competition between USC and UCLA in all sports. Points are awarded to the winner of each Bruin-Trojan head-to-head contest throughout the year and the Lexus Gauntlet trophy is awarded to the school with the most points at year's end. USC captured the inaugural trophy in 2001-02, but the Bruins took the title last season. So far this year, USC leads 22.5 to 12.5. The Women of Troy already captured all 10 points awarded in women's volleyball with two wins during the regular season, but the Bruins could take five points back if the team's meet again and UCLA comes out victorious.

USC-UCLA Connections
* The USC-UCLA rivalry is one of the greatest intercollegiate rivalries and the only rivalry of its magnitude between schools that share the same city. The schools, which have competed against each other since the 1920s, claim two of the most successful athletic programs in the nation with USC boasting 81 NCAA Championships (98 national championships) and UCLA boasting 90 NCAA titles.
* The father and grandfather of UCLA junior Brynn Murphy both played football at USC. Her father, George, lettered in 1944 and 1946-48.
* April Ross and UCLA junior outside hitter Heather Cullen were prep teammates at Newport Harbor High in Newport Beach, Calif.
* Katie Olsovsky and UCLA junior libero Chrissie Zartman were prep teammates at Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance, Calif.
* Anne Montgomery and UCLA freshman outside hitter Colby Lyman were classmates and teammates at St. Francis High in Los Altos, Calif.
* UCLA's Chrissie Zartman and Keao Burdine paired for the 2002 Under-21 World Beach Volleyball Championship in Catania, Italy. Representing the United States, the team advanced to the quarterfinal round (fifth place), but was eliminated by third-place finisher Maria Salgado Rufino and Talita Rocha of Brazil, 21-13, 21-15.
* UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski (959 career wins) and Mick Haley (855 career wins) are two of the most successful coaches in collegiate women's volleyball. Banachowski and Haley rank No. 1 and 2 among all college coaches in total career victories.

USC-UCLA Series Record - The rivalry continues as the Bruins and Trojans may meet for the 82nd time in program history. USC defeated UCLA twice during the regular season (3-1 at UCLA, 3-0 at USC). The Women of Troy now have a 42-39 (.519) edge in the all-time series and have won the last six straight match-ups. The two teams have also met 11 times in the postseason (USC is ahead 8-3), including two very notable match-ups. The Women of Troy defeated the Bruins 2-1 in 1976 for the AIAW Championship and 3-2 in 1981 for the first-ever NCAA Championship.

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	Bpg
UCLA 16.43 .233 14.83 1.41 16.93 2.53
USC 17.73 .355 16.36 1.64 16.33 3.23

No. 9 Nebraska
(28-4, 17-3 for second place in Big 12 Conference)

Nebraska, the tournament's ninth seed, is making its 22nd appearance in the NCAA Championships. The Cornhuskers swept both Valparaiso and Dayton 3-0 in the first and second rounds played in East Lansing, Mich., last week. The team returns home for the following two rounds as one of four predesignated regional sites. The team is led by All-Big 12 first team selections Melissa Elmer and Jennifer Saleaumua. Elmer, a 6-2 middle blocker, averages a team-best .360 attack percentage and 1.60 blocks per game. Saleaumua, a 5-11 outside hitter, leads the teams with 3.28 kills and 3.87 digs per game. The Cornhuskers split setting duties between Dani Busboom and Michelle Lynch. Busboom averages 5.97 assists per game, while Lynch averages 7.26 assists per outing. Head coach John Cook is currently in his fourth season with the Huskers.

USC-Nebraska Series Record - USC owns a 4-1 (.800) all-time record against the Cornhuskers. Two of the five meetings have come in the postseason. In 1985, the Women of Troy defeated Nebraska 3-2 in the NCAA Regional Final (USC was then defeated by Stanford in the semifinals) and in 1997, the Cornhuskers earned their only victory with a 3-2 win to eliminate USC in the Pacific Regional Semifinals. The two teams last met in 2002 at the Radisson Hotel/Nike Classic in Muncie, Ind., where USC defeated Nebraska 3-0.

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	Bpg
Nebraska 16.42 .255 14.98 1.96 16.34 3.19
USC 17.73 .355 16.36 1.64 16.33 3.23
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