Volleyball Season Kicks Off At Indiana Tournament

Sept. 1, 2004

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THIS WEEK: Oregon State (0-0, 0-0) opens the season at the IU Credit Union Invitational in Bloomington, Ind., on Sept. 3-4. The Beavers kick off the season with a match against Saint Louis at 2 p.m. PDT on Friday. On Saturday, they'll face Murray State at 8 a.m. PDT before wrapping up the weekend with a 5:30 p.m. PDT match against host Indiana.WHO'S BACK FOR THE BEAVERS?: Oregon State returns eight letterwinners and several starters from last year's team that just missed a chance for a berth in the NCAA Tournament after finishing 16-16. Senior outside hitter Allison Lawrence earned honorable mention All-Pacific-10 honors a year ago, when she ranked in the top 10 for kills, digs, aces and points per game in the Pac-10 (only one other Pac-10 player ranked in all four categories). Senior middle blocker Amanda Eggert returns after posting a .325 hitting percentage (10th in the Pac-10 last season and 4th best all-time at OSU) as a junior. Junior outside hitter Karah Rhoades started every match but one last season, and three other players with significant starting experience are also back. Junior Katelyn Healy started 17 matches, sophomore Brittany Cahoon started 16 matches and sophomore Abby Windell started 12 matches.EUROPEAN TOUR: The Beavers took a different approach to fall camp this season, heading overseas for two weeks in Europe. While in Europe, the Beavers played eight matches against top teams from the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary. OSU also did some sightseeing in those three countries, as well as in Vienna, Austria.SERIES RECORDS: This weekend's matches will mark the first time Oregon State has played Indiana, Murray State or Saint Louis in volleyball.THE OPPONENTS: Indiana - Indiana returns two starters from last year's 12-19 team. Outside hitter Christina Archibald averaged 4.07 kills and 2.06 digs per game last year, and middle blocker Katie Pollom returns after hitting .263 with 2.88 kills and 0.96 blocks per game in 2003. Murray State - All seven starters are back for the Racers, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year. Murray State finished 18-12 (six of its losses were by forfeits imposed by the OVC office) and won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament to earn the NCAA berth. Leading the way for the Racers is All-American outside hitter Paige Sun, the first All-American from the OVC. She hit .300 and averaged 4.67 kills and 3.96 digs per game. Saint Louis - The Billikens were 9-22 last year, but they should be more experienced this year with five starters back. Among the returnees are senior twins Jessica and Kayla Kmitta. Kayla was the team's kill leader last year (2.52 kpg), while Jessica led the team in digs (3.14 dpg).THE OREGON STATE-INDIANA CONNECTION: Oregon State sixth-year head coach Nancy Somera is the sister of Joe Hillman, who was a member of Indiana's 1987 NCAA Champion men's basketball team. Joe played for the Hoosiers from 1985-1988, while Nancy played volleyball at USC.A RARE ROAD OPENER TAKES BEAVERS BACK TO THE HOOSIER STATE: Oregon State has not opened a volleyball season on the road since 1994, when the Beavers played in Indiana, of all places. OSU opened that season with a win at Ball State and then competed in a tournament at Purdue, where it finished 2-1.BEAVERS AGAINST THE BEST: Three of Oregon State's fall sports teams - including volleyball - will face the defending national champions in their sports. The volleyball team will have to wait until October 21 and November 20 to play two-time defending champion USC, but men's soccer and football will get their chances this weekend. Men's soccer will be playing in Bloomington, Ind., as well, with a match-up against 2003 national champion Indiana on the slate. Football takes on BCS champion Louisiana State on Saturday and will play Associated Press No. 1 USC later in the season.HEAD COACH NANCY SOMERA: Nancy Somera is in her sixth season at Oregon State after spending eight years as an assistant coach at USC, her alma mater. In her five years with the Beavers, she has a career record of 65-82. In 2001, she guided OSU to a 17-12 record, and the Beavers earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history. The Beavers have finished 16-16 in two other seasons under her direction. While at USC, Somera helped the Women of Troy earn eight consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and helped develop eight USC All-Americans. Somera also played collegiately at USC, where she was an All-Pacific-10 Team selection in 1987 and 1988. She still holds the USC record for career and single-season aces.LAWRENCE GOING FOR A POSSIBLE DOUBLE-DOUBLE: It'll be close, but senior Allison Lawrence has a chance to become the sixth Beaver to record 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. The 1,000 kills are certainly well within reach, as she enters the 2004 season with 860 already to her name. The digs mark will be more of a challenge. Lawrence comes into this season with 629 career digs, but she had 388 digs as a junior, so a repeat performance would put her over 1,000.PACIFIC-10 PREDICTIONS: Oregon State was picked to finish eighth in the Pac-10 this year, based on a preseason vote of the conference coaches. Two-time defending NCAA champion USC once again was picked to win the Pac-10 title. UCLA was second, followed by Washington, Stanford, California, Arizona, Arizona State and OSU. Oregon and Washington State were tied for ninth in the selections. The top six teams in the poll also are ranked in the USA Today/CSTV preseason top 25 poll. USC checked in at No. 1, followed by No. 3 UCLA, No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Washington, No. 10 California and No. 17 Arizona.HOME OPENER SET FOR NEXT WEEKEND: The Beavers will host Auburn, Oral Roberts and Saint Mary's in the Salbasgeon Suites Invitational on September 10-11. Tournament action kicks off Friday with a 5 p.m. match featuring OSU and Oral Roberts, with Auburn and Saint Mary's taking the court at 7 p.m. On Saturday, OSU faces Auburn at 10 a.m., with Oral Roberts and Saint Mary's scheduled for noon. Auburn and Oral Roberts play at 5:30 p.m., and OSU and Saint Mary's close out the weekend with a 7:30 p.m. showdown.

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