Volleyball Hosts Arizona State, Arizona This Week

Oct. 16, 2001

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THIS WEEK'S ACTION: The Oregon State volleyball team (12-4, 5-2 Pacific-10) returns home to Gill Coliseum as the second half of Pac-10 play kicks off this week. The Beavers host the Arizona schools in this week's matches. First on the slate is Arizona State (5-9, 1-6 Pac-10) at 7 p.m., Friday, October 19, with No. 7 Arizona (11-3, 6-3 Pac-10) scheduled for 7 p.m., Saturday, October 20.

TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS: Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens and youth (HS and under). OSU students are free with a valid ID. Saturday's match against Arizona is Scout Night. Girl and Boy Scout troops will be admitted free if they register in advance through the OSU marketing office. Contact (541) 737-4638 for more information.

BEAVERS OFF TO BEST START SINCE 1996, PAC-10 START IS BEST SINCE 1993: OSU's 12-4 overall mark is its best start since 1996, the last year the Beavers posted a winning record. OSU was 19-12 that season. OSU is tied for third place in the Pac-10 standings after going 5-2 in league play so far. The last time the Beavers opened Pac-10 play with a 5-2 record was in 1993, when OSU finished seventh in the league with a 7-11 record.

RECAPPING LAST WEEK'S ACTION: The Beavers extended their winning streak to three matches by picking up two wins last week. OSU defeated Oregon in four games at home in Pac-10 action before taking a breather from league play with a 3-0 win over Idaho State on the road. Gina Schmidt led the Beavers with 25 kills (3.57 kpg) and moved into fourth place on OSU's career kills list in the process. Allison Lawrence also had a strong offensive weekend, picking up 20 kills (3.33 kpg) while hitting .410 in the two matches. Jessica Papell led the way defensively with 23 digs (3.29 dpg).

SOMERA SAYS: 'It will be nice to have a full week of practice as we prepare for the second half of conference play. We need to get back in the gym and sharpen up some areas, like court movement and communication. When those areas aren't sharp, it affects our team chemistry a little. But, we are playing solid volleyball and we'll keep working to improve in practice. That should keep us on pace.'

DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE CONTINUES: Oregon State ranks as the No. 1 team in the Pac-10 for digs for the third week in a row, averaging 17.58 digs per game. OSU also ranked 20th nationally for digs last week, with the newest national rankings available on Wednesday. Individually Gina Schmidt ranks third in the Pac-10 with 3.23 digs per game (202 total). The Beavers have outdug their opponents in all but one match this year. In fact, the Beavers have three of the top five single-match team totals in the Pac-10 this year, including a season-high 110 against Washington State on Sept. 28. Eight Beavers have combined for 46 double-figure dig performances in 16 matches this season. Schmidt leads the way with 12, while Nikki Neuburger has had 10 double-figure efforts. Three Beavers have had matches with 20+ digs this year, led by Megan McMillan, who has done so twice, with a career-high 25 against Northern Arizona and 24 against WSU - both of which rank in the top five single-match totals in the Pac-10 this season. K.C. Frederic had 24 against Sacramento State, while Lori Daedelow had a career-high 20 against Arizona State and Schmidt had a season-high 20 against WSU.

THE FIRST TIME AROUND: The Beavers improved to 9-23 all-time against ASU after defeating the Sun Devils in five games in Tempe on Sept. 22. Arizona extended its winning streak against OSU to 10 straight with a 3-0 win in Tucson last month and now leads the series, 22-10. Katrina Nelson led the way for the Beavers in those two matches. She hit .419 with a career-high 18 kills in the win over ASU, and she had a team-high 10 kills while hitting .563 against Arizona. Megan McMillan also played a key role in the win over the Sun Devils, turning in a career-high 13 kills to go along with 11 digs while hitting .500 for the night.

A LOOK AT ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils (8-7, 0-6) are riding a six-match losing streak that started when the Beavers defeated ASU in five games in Tempe last month. ASU has been paced by Jami Coughlin, who leads the Pac-10 in digs (3.73 dpg, 205 total) and is seventh in the league for kills (3.82 kpg, 210 total). Kim Melhorn, who had 37 kills and 31 digs against the Washington schools last week, is averaging 2.98 kills and 2.65 digs per game for the Sun Devils.

A LOOK AT ARIZONA: The Wildcats (11-3, 6-3 Pac-10) have won three straight after narrowly edging Washington in five games in their last match. Jill Talbot's .456 hitting percentage leads the Pac-10, and she ranks eighth in the league with 2.96 digs per game. Lisa Rutledge leads the team with 214 kills (4.46 kpg, third in the league) to go along with a .311 hitting percentage.

MAGIC NUMBER DOWN TO TWO FOR SCHMIDT: Already one of nine Beavers with 1,000 career kills, Gina Schmidt needs just two digs to become one of nine players with 1,000 career digs. She would also become one of only five OSU players with 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. With 25 kills last week, Schmidt moved up another spot to fourth place for career kills with 1,218. Next to pass is Heather Lowe, who had 1,298 (95-97). Schmidt leads the Beavers with 11 double-doubles in 16 matches this season. For the year, she has team-highs of 237 kills and 202 digs, ranking third in the Pac-10 for digs (3.26 dpg) and seventh for kills (3.82 kpg). Schmidt has had 10 or more kills in 13 matches, including four with 20-plus, with a season-high 26 against UC Irvine. She also had 25 in a match against Northern Arizona, making her one of only two Pac-10 players to have 25+ kills in two matches this year. She's also had 10-plus digs in 12 matches, with a season-high of 20 against Washington State.

THE LOWDOWN ON LAWRENCE: True freshman Allison Lawrence has come in off the bench in eight of the last nine matches for the Beavers after not playing in the first seven matches of the year, and she's made a big impact since her playing time began. Last week at Idaho State, she recorded double-figure kills for the first time in her collegiate career, leading the Beavers with 12 kills while hitting .400 in the win over the Bengals. She had a then-career-high eight kills while hitting .429 off the bench against Oregon just prior to the ISU match. In her brief collegiate career, Lawrence has played in 18 games with 40 kills (2.22 kpg), 16 digs (0.89 dpg), seven assists (0/39 apg), five blocks (0.52 bpg) and a .372 hitting percentage.

ASSISTANCE, PLEASE: Laura Collins has been a key reason for OSU's success this season. The setter is averaging 12.20 assists per game and has helped OSU to rank 27th nationally for team assists as of last week (stats are updated on Wednesday of each week). Collins was named to the all-tournament teams at both of OSU's preseason tournaments, and she was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her efforts in leading OSU to a sweep over the Washington schools in September. Collins has 744 assists on the year and ranks sixth in the Pac-10. She had a career-high 67 assists in OSU's win over Sacramento State, with that total equalling OSU's 10th best single-match assists total for an individual. She recently jumped into the top 10 for all-time assists at Oregon State, now ranking seventh with 812 career assists. Collins also has stepped up her defensive numbers as of late, recording a career-high 14 digs in OSU's win over Oregon last week for her fifth double-figure outing of the year. She has 123 digs (2.02 dpg) on the season.

SOLOMON LOOKING FOR 300: Michele Solomon needs four more blocks to become the eighth Beaver with 300 career blocks. Solomon leads OSU with 65 blocks (1.05 bpg) this year, ranking 11th in the Pac-10. While she's been a key blocking force for the Beavers throughout her entire career, she's become an offensive this year as well. Solomon is hitting a team-best .371, which ranks fourth in the Pac-10. She's second on the team with 167 kills (2.69 kpg), and has had double-figures in nine matches this year, most recently picking up 13 while hitting .458 against Oregon last week. She's improved her career hitting percentage to .267, which ranks eighth all-time at OSU. If her season mark of .371 holds up, it would stand as the second best season mark in school history.

McMILLAN MAKES THE MOST OF START: Megan McMillan was in the starting lineup at Idaho State - just her second start of the year and her first since the season opener - and made the most of the opportunity. McMillan finished the match with 10 kills, her second double-figure mark of the season offensively. She had a career-high 13 kills at ASU last month. For the year, McMillan has played in 48 of 62 games, with 59 kills (1.23 kpg) and 127 digs (2.65 dpg). McMillan has been ranked among the Pac-10's top 10 players for digs throughout the season and has had double-digit digs in four matches, including two with 20-plus. She had a career-high 25 at Northern Arizona and she added another 24 against Washington State. She also ranks fourth on the team with 10 aces and is the only player to have served three aces in two different matches this year.

DEFENSIVE DUO: OSU's two defensive specialists continue to put up big numbers on the year. Nikki Neuburger ranks second on the team with 164 digs (2.65 dpg), while Jessica Papell is fourth with 137 digs (2.36 dpg). In addition, Papell leads the team with 16 aces (0.28 sapg), while Neuburger is right behind her with 15 (0.24 sapg) to rank second on the team. Neuburger has picked up nearly half of her aces in the last four matches, serving seven aces during that span (0.50 sapg). Papell led the Beavers with 15 digs at Idaho State last week for her fourth double-figure outing of the year, while Neuburger has had double-figures 10 times, most recently with a team-high 16 against Oregon last week (one shy of her career and season high).

NELSON'S NEWS: Katrina Nelson remains at No. 5 in the Pacific-10 for hitting percentage for the third week in a row, checking in at .369 to rank second on the Beaver squad (a narrow .002 behind Michele Solomon's team-best mark of .371). Nelson ranks fourth on the team with 125 kills (2.27 kpg) and has had 10 or more kills in six matches this year. Her best outing of the season came at Arizona State last month, when she tied her career-high with 18 kills while hitting .419. At Stanford two weeks ago, she had 11 kills and posted OSU's highest individual hitting percentage of the year with a .588 mark (also a career-high for her). In Pac-10 matches only, she ranks second on the team with 70 kills (2.80 kpg) while hitting .343. Defensively, Nelson has 37 blocks (0.67 bpg), highlighted by a career-high seven blocks at Cal two weeks ago.

HOME SWEET HOME: OSU is 6-1 at Gill Coliseum this year and has won six straight at home after losing the season opener to San Jose State in four games on Aug. 31. In last week's match against Oregon, a season-high 1,558 fans came out to watch the Beavers defeat the Ducks. That was the 12th highest single-match home attendance figure in OSU volleyball history.

HEAD COACH NANCY SOMERA: The Beavers are under the direction of third-year head coach Nancy Somera. Somera, whose career record stands at 36-38, arrived at OSU in February 1999 after spending time as an assistant coach at USC since 1991. While at USC, Somera helped the team earn eight consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. She also helped develop eight USC All-Americans. Somera also played collegiately at USC, and she was a two-time All-Pacific-10 Team selection. She still holds the USC record for career and single-season aces.

REGIONAL RANKINGS: OSU is ranked eighth in the Oct. 3 NCAA Regional Poll. The next poll will be released Wednesday. OSU was ranked in two regional polls last year, checking in at 10th on Oct. 4 and ninth on Oct. 18 before dropping out for the remainder of the season.

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