No. 14 USC Opens 2006 Season On The Road

Aug. 23, 2006

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LOS ANGELES -- The No. 14 USC women's volleyball team -- winners of six national championships -- opens the 2006 season this weekend (Aug. 25-26) at the Century Tel/Classic Honda Tournament in San Marcos, Texas. The Women of Troy play two matches on Friday (Aug. 25) against North Texas and UTPA before completing the tournament on Saturday (Aug. 26) against host Texas State.

North Texas Notes
North Texas returns 10 letterwinners from last year's squad that went 14-18 overall. Cassie Headrick is 80-109 in her sixth season at North Texas. Junior outside hitter Katy Prokof had a 3.48 kpg average last season. USC is 1-0 all-time against North Texas with the Women of Troy earning a 3-0 sweep against the Mean Green on Nov. 29, 1995, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Los Angeles.

UTPA Notes
UTPA returns eight letterwinners from last year's squad that went 10-19 overall. Head coach Dave Thorn is 105-146 in his ninth season at UTPA. Senior outside hitter Heather Bravo led the Lady Broncs with a 3.01 kpg average. This is the first-ever meeting between USC and UTPA.

Texas State Notes
Texas State returns 13 letterwinners from last year's team that went 17-15 overall. Head coach Karen Chisum is 616-391-3 in her 27th season at Texas State. Sophomore outside hitter Lawrencia Brown had a 3.46 kpg average last season. This is the first-ever meeting between USC and Texas State.

Court of Dreams
This will be USC's final year at the Lyon Center before the Women of Troy move to the brand-new Galen Center in October. The 10,258-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.

2006 Preview
Eight letterwinners return from last year's squad that went 17-11 (12-6 in the Pac-10 for a fourth-place finish) and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Senior libero Debora Seilhamer returns, along with starters Diane Copenhagen, Katelyn Bishop and Kelli Tennant. The team's other three seniors are Alli Dillon, Kimi Freeburg and Annie Montgomery. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Jessica Gysin has battled injuries in her first two seasons, but figures to be in the starting lineup. The six newcomers to the team are freshmen setter Taylor Carico, freshmen defensive specialists Alli Hillgren and Chelsea Wilson and junior transfers Bethany Johansen (UC Santa Barbara), Asia Kaczor (College of Southern Idaho) and Marta Siemiatkowska (College of Southern Idaho).

Grand Victory
On Nov. 25, 2005, USC head coach Mick Haley recorded his 1,000th collegiate win in the Women of Troy's 3-0 win against California. He earned his 900th win as a women's coach on Nov. 4, 2005, at Oregon State. His 29-year career includes seven years (combined men's and women's) 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.

The Power of the Pac-10
Six Pac-10 teams were ranked among the top 25 in the 2006 CSTV/AVCA preseason poll (the most among any other conference), including No. 3 Washington, No. 4 Stanford, No. 10 UCLA, No. 14 USC, No. 17 California and No. 18 Arizona.

'Seil' The Deal
Senior libero Debora Seilhamer (Ponce, Puerto Rico/ Colegio Ponceño) has established herself as one of the top liberos in the nation. Seilhamer earned All-America second team status and All-Pac-10 honors last season after posting a school record 696 digs and 6.82 dpg average, surpassing both records she had set in her 2004 sophomore season.

Currently, she holds the school career record with a 4.66 dpg average (Katie Haller, 1990-93, is second with a 4.01 average) and is fourth all-time with 1,350 digs. She needs 121 digs to tie Kelly Kuebler (1992-95) for third and can tie Haller for the school record with a total of 352 in 2006.

She set a school record for most digs in a four-game match with 39 on Nov. 19, 2005, at Arizona State, surpassing a record she tied earlier in the season (Sept. 9 against Notre Dame) with 36.

She earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors last year after recording 57 digs in two matches (8.14 dpg average) on Oct. 21 and 22 against Arizona State and No. 8 Arizona. With 27 digs against ASU, she set a school record for most digs in a three-game match and, in the process, recorded her 1,000th career dig. She was perfect in 21 serving attempts against Arizona and did not record a reception error. On Nov. 12 against Washington State, Seilhamer set a new three-game school record with 29 digs against the Cougars.

She tied the school record on Sept. 9, 2005, 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.

Seilhamer earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention in 2004 and set a USC record (and five-game record) with 45 digs in the match on Nov. 12 against UCLA.

The Capital of Denmark
Junior outside hitter Diane Copenhagen (Saratoga/St. Francis HS) was third on the team last year with a 3.85 ppg average, along with 314 kills (3.27 kpg). She set a career-high with 24 kills in a five-game loss to No. 6 Florida on Sept. 10, 2005, 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 as Team USA finished in a tie for 11th place.

The Pahl Bearer
Sophomore 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 earned 2005 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team honors after recording 188 kills (1.84 kpg) and 84 blocks (0.82 bpg). She finished fourth on the squad with a 2.52 ppg average.

Family Gysin
It has taken two years, but USC fans will finally get a chance to see the exploits of redshirt sophomore outside hitter Jessica Gysin (Los Gatos/St. Francis HS). Hailed as one of the top high school players in 2004, Gysin has battled injuries in her first two seasons. She sprained her ankle in 2004 and suffered a left knee injury in 2005. Gysin is expected to be in the starting lineup this season.

Taylor Made
Freshman setter Taylor Carico (Manhattan Beach/Mira Costa HS) takes center stage on the NCAA Division I level this season. Carico won the 2005 Andi Collins Award as the nation's top senior high school setter according to She was also CIF Co-Player of the Year and state most valuable player in her senior season.

On the club level, she won most valuable player honors for the 18 Open Division this summer at the Junior Olympics and was a member of the 2004 and 2005 Youth National Team.

CSI: Los Angeles
This season, USC welcomes to two junior transfers from last year's junior college national champions at the College of Southern Idaho. Both players are also from Poland.

6-4 opposite/outside hitter Asia Kaczor (pronounced AH-shuh KAHK-chor) will be counted on to generate points for the Women of Troy this season. She was the 2005 NJCAA Player of the Year after leading the team with 605 kills on the season (4.96 kpg) and a .456 percentage. She recorded 89 service aces (0.73 apg), 25 assists, 62 blocks (0.51 bpg) and 307 digs (2.52 dpg). Kaczor has been a member of the Polish National Team program since 2000.

6-1 middle blocker Marta Siemiatkowska (pronounced MAR-tuh shay-mee-uht-KOW-ska) recorded 267 kills (2.12 kpg) for a .416 hitting percentage last season with 58 service aces (0.46 sapg), 154 digs (1.22 dpg) and led the team in blocks with 192 (1.52 bpg). In her 2004 freshman season, she registered 209 kills (2.65 kpg) with 36 service aces (0.46 sapg), 188 digs (2.38 dpg) and 103 blocks (1.41 bpg).

Bethany's Block Party
Junior middle blocker/opposite hitter transfer Bethany Johansen (San Jose/UC Santa Barbara) adds an experienced player to USC's lineup. Last season with the Gauchos, she led the team with a .375 hitting percentage, posting 137 kills (1.40 kpg) with 66 blocks (0.67 bpg) and 24 digs (0.24). She was named to the 2005 Big West Conference All-Academic team.

Team Co-Captains
For the 2006 season, seniors Alli Dillon (Long Beach/Wilson HS) and Kimi Freeburg (New Castle, Ind./New Castle Chrysler HS) will serve as team co-captains. Both Dillon and Freeburg are setters with Dillon getting additional play as a defensive specialist. Dillon has played in 87 matches during her first three seasons (she transferred to USC after her 2003 freshman season at San Jose State) while Freeburg has appeared in 78 matches for the Women of Troy.

Dads In The Pros
Two USC players this season have fathers in high-profile careers. Senior Annie Montgomery's dad, Mike, is the current head coach for the NBA's Golden State Warriors while freshman Chelsea Wilson's dad, Doug, is executive vice president and general manager for the NHL's San Jose Sharks.

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