No. 7 USC Opens 2005 Season Against Cal Poly

Aug. 25, 2005

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The Facts
The No. 7 USC women's volleyball team -- winners of six national championships -- will open its 2005 season with a home match on Saturday (Aug. 27) against Cal Poly, starting at 7 p.m. at the Lyon Center. USC is 24-4 all-time in home openers.

The Women of Troy return 10 letterwinners from last year's squad, including senior two-time All-American middle blocker Bibiana Candelas (Torreon, Mexico/Colegio Ponceno).

USC is ranked No. 7 in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll. Cal Poly is not ranked.

Cal Poly Notes
Jon Stevenson begins his first season as head coach at Cal Poly. The Mustangs return eight letterwinners from last year's squad that went 5-24 overall. Senior outside hitter Kayla Mulder registered a 2.94 kills-per-game average and 0.65 blocks per game. USC leads the all-time series with Cal Poly by an 11-5 margin. The Women of Troy swept the Mustangs in three games in the last meeting between the two schools on Dec. 2, 2000, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Cal Poly freshman Cari Olsovsky is the younger sister of former USC player Katie Olsovsky (2000-03), who was a 2001 All-America second team selection for the Women of Troy...USC redshirt freshman Kathleen Gilmour and Cal Poly sophomore Kristin Jackson were high school teammates at Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach.

A New Home
This will be USC's final year at the Lyon Center before the Women of Troy move to the brand-new Galen Center for the 2006 season. The 10,260-seat arena is being built on the corner of Figueroa St. and Jefferson Blvd., adjacent to the USC campus. The arena is named after Lou and Helene Galen, who generously donated $35 million towards the project that will house the USC men's and women's volleyball and basketball programs.

Polling Trends
The Women of Troy have spent 82 consecutive weeks ranked in the top 10 (dating back to the start of the 2000 season) in the AVCA Coaches Poll.

The Power of the Pac-10
Six Pac-10 teams are ranked among the top 25 in the 2005 CSTV/AVCA preseason poll (the most among any other conference), including No. 2 Washington, No. 3 Stanford, No. 7 USC, No. 13 UCLA, No. 17 Arizona and No. 19 California. The Big Ten and Big 12 Conferences have four teams each in the poll.

Strength Of Schedule
USC is playing another difficult schedule based on teams ranked in the CSTV/AVCA preseason poll, including four of the nation's top five teams: No. 2 Washington, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Hawai'i and No. 5 Penn State. Six other Top 25 teams are also on the schedule: No. 8 Florida, No. 13 UCLA, No. 16 Texas A&M, No. 17 Arizona, No. 19 California and No. 25 Pepperdine.

Aiming For The Four-Peat
The Women of Troy are looking for a school-record fourth straight NCAA Final Four appearance this year. Since 1981, USC has made a total of six Final Four appearances, including four in the last five years.

Injury Report
Redshirt freshman Jessica Gysin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee in July and will be out for the entire 2005 season.

Team Co-Captains
For the 2005 season, senior outside hitter Staci Venski and junior setter Kimi Freeburg will serve as team co-captains.

Getting New Assistance
This season, the USC program has two new assistant coaches, Todd Dagenais and Cookie Stevens, as well as a new volunteer assistant coach, John Xie.

Dagenais served a one-year stint with USA Volleyball after spending five seasons at Michigan State (1999-2003). During his tenure at MSU, he was the recruiting and scouting coordinator, as well as assisting with all other aspects of the program. He played four seasons for Central Michigan's men's club team.

Stevens was the head coach at Florida International (1999-2004), leading the Golden Panthers to an appearance in the 2001 NCAA Tournament. She recorded two national championships during her 18-year career at Miami-Dade Community College (1979-96) and was honored twice as the junior college national coach of the year. She played two seasons at San Diego State (1977-78).

Xie spent the last four seasons with the Impact Volleyball Club, including head coaching duties last year for the 15-2 girls' team. He played on the 1999 Ohio State men's club team.

2004 Recap
USC narrowily missed winning three consecutive national championships after an NCAA semifinal loss to Minnesota in 2004. The Women of Troy went 23-6 on the season and finished third in the Pac-10 Conference with a 14-4 mark. Seniors Emily Adams and Keao Burdine earned All-America first team honors while Bibiana Candelas received All-America third team recognition. On Sept. 11, the team had its NCAA-record streak of 52 consecutive wins snapped by Illinois, eight more than the previous mark held by Penn State.

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