No. 12/16 USC Takes On Pepperdine In Final Nonconference Match

Sept. 13, 2005

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The Facts
The No. 12/16 USC women's volleyball team (3-4) -- winners of six national championships -- will host Pepperdine (3-3) on Friday (Sept. 16) at 7 p.m. at the Lyon Center. It will be the final nonconference match of the season for USC before the start of Pac-10 Conference play as the Women of Troy will open on the road at Stanford and California on Sept. 23 and 24.

USC is ranked No. 12 in the latest CSTV/AVCA Coaches Poll and No. 16 by Volleyball Magazine. Pepperdine is not ranked.

Pepperdine Notes
Pepperdine is 3-3 on the season after losing to No. 1 Nebraska, 3-1, and No. 4 Penn State, 3-0, and defeating Pacific, 3-0, last weekend in Lincoln, Neb. Head coach Nina Matthies is 424-254 in her 23rd season at Pepperdine. Freshman outside hitter Julie Rubenstein leads the team with 4.55 kills per game this season. USC leads the all-time series by a 32-7 margin against Pepperdine. The Women of Troy have won the last 12 meetings with the Waves.

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	BpgUSC			16.50	.251	14.81	0.73	18.00	2.38Pepperdine		14.82	.231	13.36	1.14	13.05	2.86	

Last Week
The Women of Troy went 1-2 against three Top 25 teams at the UTSA Dome Rally in San Antonio, Texas. Debora Seilhamer tied a school record with 36 digs in a four-game loss to No. 19 Notre Dame on Friday as the Fighting Irish were able to rally from several deficits for the win. USC battled with No. 6 Florida on Saturday in an exciting five-game match as the Gators won 15-12 in the deciding game. Diane Copenhagen had a team-high 24 kills, her career high, against Florida. The Women of Troy salvaged a win on Sunday against No. 13 Texas A&M as Bibiana Candelas and Staci Venski each had 20 kills.

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
On Sept. 12, the Women of Troy had its streak of consecutive Top 10 AVCA Coaches Poll rankings snapped at 84 weeks (dating back to the start of the 2000 season).

The Power of the Pac-10
Six Pac-10 teams were 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. Notre Dame, which recently entered the Top 25 rankings, is also on this year's schedule.

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.

The Capital of Denmark
Sophomore outside hitter Diane Copenhagen (Mountain View/St. Francis HS) has a 4.35 kills per game average this season for the Women of Troy, along with 3.23 digs per game. She led the team with 14 kills in the season opener on Aug. 27 against Cal Poly and 17 kills on Aug. 30 against No. 5 Penn State. Copenhagen set a career-high with 24 kills in a five-game loss to No. 6 Florida on Sept. 10 at the UTSA Dome Rally in San Antonio.

Copenhagen played at the 2005 U-20 FIVB World Championships in Ankara, Turkey, with the U.S. Junior National Team. Team USA finished in a tie for 11th place.

Valuable Venski
Senior outside hitter Staci Venski (California City/Mojave HS/Calabasas HS) has gelled into one of the team's key players for the 2005 season. She has a 4.23 kills per game average this season, along with a 0.85 blocks per game average.

This season, Venski has three 20-kill performances which includes a career-high 22 kills against No. 5 Penn State on Aug. 31 at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. She registered 20 kills against No. 19 Notre Dame on Sept. 9 and No. 13 Texas A&M on Sept. 11 at the UTSA Dome Rally in San Antonio, Texas.

After two years of waiting patiently, Venski earned a full-time starting role last year, starting in 28 of 29 matches. She averaged 2.70 kills, 0.61 digs, 0.66 blocks and 3.06 points per game.

Fire Woman
Senior middle blocker Bibiana Candelas (Torreòn, Mexico/Colegio Ponceño) is a two-time All-American for the Women of Troy. In four matches this season, Candelas has a 3.77 kills-per-game average with a .274 hitting percentage.

She tallied a season-high 19 kills on Sept. 2 against Western Michigan and earned All-Tournament honors at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic with 45 kills in three matches. On Sept. 11 in a four-game win over No. 13 Texas A&M, she tied a career high with 20 kills.

Top Of The World
Bibiana Candelas is one of three USC players who played for teams that qualified for the 2006 World Championships. Candelas helped the Mexican National Team this summer by advancing at the NORCECA qualifier. Former setter Toni Anderson and libero Nicole Davis aided the United States National Team by winning the NORCECA qualifying tournament.

'Seil' The Deal
Junior libero Debora Seilhamer (Ponce, Puerto Rico/ Colegio Ponceño) served as a freshman backup to former standout libero Nicole Davis and now has established herself as one the nation's top liberos. Seilhamer has 148 digs this season for a 5.69 per-game average.

She tied a school record on Sept. 9 against No. 19 Notre Dame for most digs (36) in a four-game match, tying a mark held by Megan McAllister (10/21/89) and Katie Haller (10/24/92). Seilhamer had 82 digs in three matches against Top 25 teams (Notre Dame, No. 6 Florida and No. 13 Texas A&M) at the UTSA Dome Rally (Sept. 9-11) and was named to the all-tournament team.

Last season, she set a USC single season record with 571 digs on the season and averaged a school-record 5.39 digs per game, which ranked her third in the Pac-10 Conference. Seilhamer earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention and set a USC record (and five-game record) with 45 digs in the match on Nov. 12 against UCLA.

The Pahl Bearer
Freshman middle blocker/outside hitter Kelli Tennant (Temecula/Chaparral HS) lists former USC All-America middle blocker Jennifer Pahl (1998-2001) as her biggest sports hero. Tennant is wearing Pahl's number (26) as a tribute to her. Pahl grew up near Tennant in Murrieta, Calif.

Tennant has contributed in her 2005 freshman season, averaging 2.23 kills per game and 0.73 blocks per game.

A True Trojan Family
Freshman outside hitter Kathleen Gilmour (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) comes from a long line of Trojans - a list that far exceeds that of just former Trojan athletes. The Gilmours, including brothers J.T. and Marcus, who both played on the USC men's volleyball team, keep a detailed list of their own Trojan family history that includes 40 family members who have all attended USC. The lists dates back to Kathleen's great-great grandfather, Andrew Morrow ('23), and the first USC relative, her great-great uncle, Charles Morrow ('21).

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...senior defensive specialist Jessica Mihm is out indefinitely with a left elbow injury.

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

Mick Haley needs 10 wins to record his 900th overall victory as a head coach. His 29-year career includes seven years at Kellogg Community College in Michigan (1973-79), 17 years at Texas (1980-96) and five years at USC (2000-Present). He also served as head coach for the U.S. Women's National Team from 1997-2000, including the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

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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