Tara West to Play with Australian National Volleyball Team in Abu Dhabi

May 19, 2008

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Recent Washington State University graduate Tara West will play volleyball with the Australian National Team in the 2008 Abu Dhabi International Women's Volleyball Tournament May 21-28, at the Al Jazira indoor stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

'I'm really excited for the opportunity to play in Abu Dhabi and play against big European teams,' West said. 'In previous tournaments when I have played with the Australian team, we have played Asian teams and the European teams play a style more similar to us.'

West, from Perth, Australia, was a two-year starter at middle blocker for the WSU Cougars volleyball team. As a senior, West's 1.24 blocks per game average led the team and was eighth-best in the Pacific-10 Conference. She was named MVP of the 2007 Baden Cougar Challenge Tournament and reached double-figure kills in 15 of 32 matches played last fall. West was also outstanding in the classroom, being named to the Pac-10 All-Academic first team, and to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII first team and Academic All-America national third team.

The tournament will feature the world's top 10 teams, including Italy, the world's second highest-ranked team. Australia will compete in Pool A against Italy, Holland, Egypt and Algeria, while Pool B consists of Russia, Cuba, Germany, Azerbaijan, and France. Prize money of $1,000,000 (US) will be awarded with $300,000 for first place, $200,000 for the runners up, $100,000 for third place, and cash prizes for all ten participating teams.

'I'm hoping that if we win any of the prize money that it goes back into the Australian women's volleyball program because they recently cut funding to the national program,' West said. 'We used to have a full-time program but they cancelled it because they didn't have the funding anymore. I would like to see more opportunities for women in Australia to play at future tournaments.'

Also playing for Australia in the tournament is another Pacific-10 Conference player, Oregon State's Rachel Rourke. 'It is going to be a flashback,' West said. 'I haven't played with her for a few years so it's going to be great to have her back on my team and not have to worry about her on the other side of the net.'

For more information about the Australian National Team go to www.avf.org.au.

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