2008 Pac-10 Volleyball Media Guide
Aug. 19, 2008
Pac-10 volleyball continues to dominate the collegiate game. Over the last seven seasons, the Pac-10 has sent 15 teams to the Final Four and captured five national titles. During those seven seasons, the league has posted an impressive 683-195 (.778) record against non-conference opponents. In NCAA Tournament action over that same span, the Pac-10 has posted a mark of 111-28 (.799). With 14 Volleyball FAB 50 recruits added to this year's Pac-10 rosters, the league is determined to continue to add to its success.
Here's a brief look at the teams of the Pac-10 as they prepare for the 2008 season:
The Wildcats look to return to their winning ways in 2008 behind five returning starters and a strong freshman class containing three top-50 recruits. In addition, the return of local standout Whitney Dosty, who missed the entire 2007 season with a knee injury, has the Wildcats excited for the 2008 campaign. Dosty coupled with senior Randy Goodenough (3.73 kpg) and sophomore Tiffany Owens (3.44 kpg) gives the offense athleticism and experience. As a freshman in 2006, Dosty tallied 369 kills (3.39 kpg) and 71 blocks (0.65 bpg). Sophomore setter Paige Weber is back to anchor the offense. In 2007 she posted 1,330 assists, second most by a freshman in school history. The Cats are experienced at libero with senior Brittany Leonard (2.02 dpg), who needs 32 digs to become the 10th Wildcat all-time to reach 1,000 for her career. The schedule should help the new talent develop as the Wildcats play just two true road matches among their first 15 matches.
There will be several new faces on the Arizona State squad in 2008, including first-year head coach Jason Watson. With the loss of six seniors, including Pac-10 record-breaking libero Sydney Donahue, the Sun Devils will have 10 underclassmen on their roster this season. Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Reaves (418 kills/ 4.14 kpg) earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honors after posting 4.14 kill per game - tops among all Pac-10 freshmen last season. Reaves and senior Margie Giordano (383 kills/3.51 kpg) will lead the Sun Devil attack in 2008. Junior setter Marina Mercer ranks seventh in career assists at ASU with 2,460 and will once again be in control of the Sun Devil offense. Watson spent three seasons at BYU and amassed a 74-18 (.804) overall record while leading BYU to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Under his leadership the Sun Devils will look to achieve similar success.
The Golden Bears made history as they advanced to their first ever Final Four in 2007. Cal returns a solid group of upperclassmen, including All-American and All-Pac-10 outside hitter Hana Cutura, who have the Bears in position to make another deep postseason run. Even with the loss of All-American Angie Pressey,the Golden Bears are still strong at the outside hitter position. Cutura led the team in kills last season (485 kills/4.22 kpg), while also adding 214 digs and 77 blocks. Senior Morgan Beck also turned in a solid numbers as she posted 265 kills (2.39 kpg) and 114 blocks (1.03). Sophomore setter Carli Lloyd will run the Cal offense after posting impressive numbers in her first season. She tallied 1,550 assists (12.81 apg), while collecting 234 digs, 111 blocks and 93 kills as a true freshman. The Bears ranked third in the nation as a team in blocks per game last season, but Ellen Orchard (192 blocks/1.60 bpg), who ranked ninth nationally, completed her eligibility. Beck and junior Kat Reilly (1.36) must step in and control the middle in Orchard's absence.
With the entire starting lineup back from a squad that made the Sweet Sixteen last year, coach Jim Moore has the Ducks poised to make a third consecutive postseason run in 2008. Senior All-American outside hitter Gorana Maricic led the league with 5.50 kills per game (616 kills) last season becoming just the second Oregon player ever to lead this category. Also contributing will be outside hitters junior Sonja Newcombe (397 kills/3.54 kpg) and sophomore Heather Meyers (347 kills/3.10 kpg). Middle blockers Neticia Enesi (182 kills/1.62kpg, 110 blocks/0.98 bpg) and Kristen Forristall (188 kills/1.68 kpg, 117 blocks/1.04 bpg) have proved they can post solid numbers on both offense and defense. Senior libero Katie Swoboda, owner of Oregon's record for career digs with 1,559 digs, anchors the Duck defense. The Ducks open the Pac-10 season on the road against conference powerhouses California and Stanford, followed by home matches with UCLA and USC. Each team is picked to finish among the top four in the league race, so the Ducks must establish themselves as a Conference contender early on.
The Beavers have nine upperclassmen with experience to lead coach Taras Liskevych's team in 2008. Junior All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention Rachel Rourke and All-Pac-10 Freshman Honarable Mention Jill Sawatzky willhead the attack for Oregon State as it hopes to build on last season's progress. Rourke finished the season with 505 kills (4.51 kpg) and 92 blocks (0.82 bpg) to become the fourth player in school history to record 500 kills in a season, while Sawatzky finished her impressive freshman season with 332 kills (2.96 kpg) and 52 blocks. Senior libero Ashley Evans (459 digs/4.06 dpg) will be solid again in 2008. Junior Bree Knitter paced the Beavers at the net with 141 blocks (1.26 bpg) and added 142 kills (1.27 kpg). In addition, junior Lexie Rathgeber (111 blocks/0.99 bpg) will contribute to the success in the middle for the Beavers. With five of their first seven Pac-10 matches on the road in 2008, the Beavers will need to find a way to be successful away from Gill Coliseum in attempting to post the school's first winning record in league play since 2001.
With three returning AVCA All-Americans, Stanford is once again the team to beat in the Pac-10. Last season, the Cardinal won their second consecutive Pac-10 title (11th overall) and reached the NCAA championship finals for the 13th time in school history. With 2007 AVCA National Player of the Year Foluke Akinradewo entering her final season, coach John Dunning should not have a problem making another run at a national championship. Akinradewo (4.11 kpg/1.21 bpg) posted a Pac-10 record .499 hitting percentage last season. Stanford returns two AVCA All-American outside hitters in senior Cynthia Barboza and sophomore Alix Klineman, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Barboza compiled 467 kills (3.99 kpg) and 380 digs (3.25 dpg), while Klineman had a team-leading 499 kills (4.12 kpg), posted 326 digs (2.69 dpg) and 89 blocks (0.74 bpg). Sophomore libero Gabi Ailes anchors the back line as she turned in a stellar freshman campaign recording a single-season school record of 533 digs (4.26 dpg). The loss of three-time All-American setter Bryn Kehoe will bring some concern to the position this season, but junior Joanna Evans or sophomore Cassidy Lichtman will be up to the task of replacing Kehoe. The Cardinal have been the national runner-up for two straight seasons and are aiming for a three consecutive title match appearance.
The Pac-10's longest reigning coach, Andy Banachowski, will look to his seniors for leadership in 2008, which includes two-time All-American setter Nellie Spicer. The Bruins posted their ninth straight 20-win season and reached the NCAA Regional Final for the fourth time in the last five years. Spicer, who recorded 1,550 assists (12.92 apg) as a junior, is now third on the school's all-time list with 4,697 assists. The Bruins possess a pair of experienced outside hitters in seniors Ali Daley (435 kills/3.69 kpg) and Kaitlin Sather (447 kills/3.76 kpg). UCLA topped the conference in digs per game last season (19.46 dpg), led by Daley (3.66 dpg) and senior libero Jade Machado (3.19 dpg). The Bruin defense willbe a significant factor in their success this year. UCLA will have a challenging non-conference schedule and in order to be successful in 2008, they'll have to earnvictories away from Pauley Pavilion in the early going. The Bruins will have played 14 matches before their first home game - an October 10 Pac-10 showdownwith the Washington Huskies.
Coming off its fourth Final Four appearance in the last six years, USC returns a solid group of young players led by All-American junior setter Taylor Carico. With a senior-less squad, Coach Mick Haley will look to a talented group of underclassmen to lead the Women of Troy on another deep run into the postseason in2008. Carico became the first USC setter to record over 1,500 assists in a season, totaling 1,596 (12.67 apg) in 2007 and will be key in running the USC offense. Juniordefensive specialist Alli Hillgren (508 digs/4.38 dpg) and sophomore Geena Urango (347 digs/2.80 dpg) are key to the USC defense. With the loss of two-time All-American Asia Kaczor (659 kills/5.15 kpg) and Diane Copenhagen (259 kills/2.70 kpg), USC will need to earn its points by committee. Redshirt junior Jessica Gysin (327 kills/3.00 kpg) could get the call as the go-to performer for the Women of Troy. Look for freshman Lauren Williams or sophomore transfer Audrey Eichler to join sophomore Zoe Garrett (118 blocks/1.02 bpg) in the middle for the Trojans.
Washington, which made its sixth straight NCAA appearance last season, returns four starters, including a pair of All-Americans in junior libero Tamari Miyashiro and senior middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick. With a mix of experienced veterans and talented underclassmen, coach Jim McLaughlin will look to guide his team back to the postseason once again in 2008. Miyashiro, who was named the 2007 ASICS/Volleyball Magazine Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 622 digs (5.65 dpg).Swarbrick led the team with a .413 hitting percentage last year, ranking 10th nationally. Sophomore outside hitter Becky Perry provides additional firepower. She posted a .360 hitting percentage and collected 326 kills (3.13 kpg), while earning Pac-10 All-Freshman honors. Sophomore setter Jenna Hagglund, earned All-Pac-10 Freshman Team honors after recording 1,422 assists (13.54 apg). With a year of experience in the extremely competitive Pac-10, Hagglund will be poised to run the offense for the Huskies.
The Cougars ended the 2007 season on a high-note with a victory in the season finale, and hope to build on that victory, along with the hiring of head coach AndrewPalileo, to generate enthusiasm for the Washington State program. With four returning starters, Palileo has some experienced players to rely on to try and guide the Cougars to the postseason after a six year absence. Junior libero Kelly Hyder (4.90 dpg) became the seventh Cougar in school history to reach 1,000 career digs. Her experience will be needed to lead the Cougar defense this year. The Cougars have a pair of veteran outside hitters in senior Brittany Johnson and junior Jackie Albright. Johnson posted 298 kills (2.84 kpg) and 82 blocks (0.78 bpg), while Albright led the team with 306 kills (2.86 kpg) and added 276 digs (2.58 dpg), 43 blocks and 20 service aces. Incoming freshman Meagan Ganzer and Tangerine Wiggs could compete for playing time at outside hitter as well. Palileo has guided teams to the postseason at his previous stops. His knowledge and leadership will help point the Cougars in the right direction this season.