Volleyball Set For First NCAA Appearance Since 1983

Nov. 27, 2001

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UPCOMING ACTION: The Oregon State volleyball team (17-11) is among the 64 teams selected to the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championships, which begins this week. OSU will travel to Pullman, Wash., where it will face Big Sky champion Eastern Washington (20-5) in first round action at 6 p.m., Friday, November 30. Host Washington State (17-11) and No. 11 Hawaii (27-5) will play at 8 p.m. in Friday's other first round match. The winners of those matches will play at 4:00 p.m., Saturday, December 1. All matches will be played in Bohler Gym.

TICKETS: Single-day tickets are $10 for reserved seats, $7 for general admission, $5 for students and senior citizens. A two-day ticket package is available for $16 (reserved), $12 (general admission), $6 (students and senior citizens) and $4 (youth). The WSU ticket office can be reached at 509-335-9626.

OSU IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Oregon State is making its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The only other appearance came in 1983, when they lost to California in five games in Corvallis in the first round. OSU competed in the NIVC in 1993 and 1994.

SERIES RECORDS: vs. Eastern Washington: Oregon State holds a 5-1-1 record against Eastern Washington, although the teams have not played since 1994, when the Beavers defeated the Eagles in three games in Corvallis. vs. Hawaii: The Beavers have never beaten Hawaii in the four previous meetings between the two schools. The teams last met in 1991, with Hawaii winning both matches in Honolulu (one in three games and one in four). vs. Washington State: With Washington State being a fellow Pacific-10 member, OSU and WSU are familiar with each other. The teams have played 61 times, with OSU going 26-35 against the Cougars. The teams split the series this year, with each winning at home (OSU won in four games in Corvallis and WSU won in three games in Pullman.). OSU hasn't beaten WSU in Pullman since 1990.

TAKING A BREAK FROM RANKED OPPONENTS: When OSU plays Eastern Washington on Friday, it will be the Beavers' first match against an unranked team since playing Oregon on November 9. OSU closed out regular season play with five matches against top 15 teams, with two matches against No. 5 USC, two against No. 11/12 UCLA and one against No. 10 Colorado State. The Beavers went 1-4 in those matches, with the one win coming against UCLA in Corvallis on November 19 for OSU's second win against the Bruins in program history.

WILL THE TREND CONTINUE? OSU enters the NCAA Tournament having lost its last two matches, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - at least not this season. The Beavers have not lost more than two matches in a row this year. They have lost two in a row three times this season and have always responded with a win after the second loss. The Beavers lost back-to-back matches against No. 3 Arizona and at Washington State to come back with a win at Washington on October 26, and lost to No. 5 USC and No. 12 UCLA in Los Angeles two weeks ago, but rallied back to beat the Bruins in Corvallis the next time out. OSU ended the regular season with losses to USC and No. 10 Colorado State, with the match against Eastern Washington up next.

A LOOK AT EASTERN WASHINGTON: The Eagles (20-5) head into the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big Sky Conference tournament two weeks ago. EWU beat Idaho State (3-1) and Northern Arizona (3-2) before defeating Sacramento State (3-1) in the championship game. (OSU played all three of those teams earlier in the season, defeating Sacramento State at home in five games and losing to Northern Arizona in five games at NAU in September and sweeping Idaho State in Pocatello in October). All five of EWU's losses came in regular season conference play (including two 3-0 losses to Sacramento State). Eastern Washington is led by Robyn Felder, who's hitting .353 with 3.40 kills per game (316 total) and Janelle Ruen, who has a team-high 347 kills (3.73 kpg) to go along with a team-best 337 digs (3.62 dpg).

A LOOK AT HAWAII: No. 11 Hawaii (27-5) had a 24-match winning streak snapped when it lost to No. 12 Pacific in five games in the regular season finale. The team cruised through conference play, going a perfect 13-0 in the Western Athletic Conference during the regular season and then winning all three tournament games to claim the automatic berth to the NCAAs. In fact, Hawaii lost only four games against WAC competition all season. Kim Willoughby leads the team - and the nation, for that matter - with an impressive 7.08 kills per game average (758 total). She's hitting .350 and also has a team-high 392 digs (3.66 dpg). Maja Gustin has 425 kills (3.90 kpg) to rank second on the team.

A LOOK AT WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars (17-11) enter the tournament with an identical record as the Beavers, but OSU finished one spot ahead of WSU in the Pac-10 standings (WSU was sixth with a 9-9 league record, while OSU was 10-8). The Cougars are led by All-Pac-10 selection LaToya Harris, who has team-highs of 3.58 kpg (319 total) and 2.92 dpg (260 total). Adrian Hankoff (3.24 kpg, 2.60 dpg) and Kali Surplus (12.46 apg, 2.87 dpg) were honorable mention All-Pac-10 selections.

THREE BEAVERS RECEIVE ALL-PACIFIC-10 RECOGNITION: Gina Schmidt and Laura Collins were named honorable mention All-Pacific-10, while Allison Lawrence was named an honorable mention selection on the league's All-Freshman Team. Schmidt ranks third in the Pac-10 for digs (3.33 dpg) and ninth for kills (3.71 kpg). Collins, who ranks sixth in the league for assists (12.07 apg), was named Pac-10 Player of the Week on October 1. Lawrence is averaging 1.98 kills and 0.82 digs per game as a true freshman.

PAC-10 SUCCESS FOR THE BEAVERS: OSU's upset win over No. 11 UCLA last week gave the Beavers their 10th Pac-10 win of the season, giving OSU double-figure wins in Pac-10 play for just the second time (The Beavers won a school record 11 Pac-10 matches in 1990). That 10th win assured the Beavers of sole possession of fifth place in the final league standings, also good for OSU's second best finish in Pac-10 play. The Beavers finished third in 1990 but aside from that season, OSU had never finished above seventh place in the final standings until this year.

NATIONAL POLLSTERS TAKING NOTE: Oregon State's success this season has hit the national scene as the Beavers have received votes in the last four USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Polls, each week receiving more points than the previous week. OSU received 23 points in the latest poll, which came out November 26. That puts the Beavers at 27th nationally. OSU received nine points on Nov. 19, seven on Nov. 12 poll and four votes on Nov. 5.

HITTING THE BOOKS: In addition to its success on the court, OSU had been successful in the classroom as well. Two Beavers were named to the Verizon Academic All-District VIII squad, and eight received recognition on the Pac-10 All-Academic Team. Gina Schmidt was named a first team selection on both the Verizon and Pac-10 academic teams, and she's now eligible for Academic All-America honors. A 4.0 business student, Schmidt was a first team Academic All-America last year. Katrina Nelson was a third team selection on the Verizon team and earned honorable mention status on the Pac-10 squad. Laura Collins, Amanda Eggert, K.C. Frederic, Megan McMillan, Nikki Neuburger and Jessica Papell also earned honorable mention recognition on the All-Pac-10 team.

PAC-10 TEAMS SUCCESSFUL IN POSTSEASON: For the second consecutive season, the Pac-10 will send six teams into the NCAA Tournament. Since Pac-10 play began in 1986, the conference has sent at least half of the league's teams into NCAA play in 12 of the 16 championships. Over the last 11 years of NCAA Tournament play, the Pac-10 has piled up an impressive 97-33 (.746) record against non-league opponents, producing six national titles (UCLA two and Stanford four). The Pac-10 posted a 22-13 (.629) record this season against non-league teams that make up the 64-team field for the NCAA Tournament. The six Pac-10 teams participating in the tournament sported a 20-7 (.741) record against teams in the field.

SCHMIDT EXPECTED TO BE BACK AGAINST THE EAGLES: Gina Schmidt, one of the top volleyball players in OSU history, is expected to be back in action against Eastern Washington after missing the Colorado State match and playing just one game against USC last week because of mid-foot sprain. Schmidt will end her OSU career as one of only five Beavers with 1,000 career kills and digs. She enters the NCAA Tournament with 1,341 kills - third on OSU's all-time list. She also has 1,119 digs - good for seventh all-time at OSU. She'll likely remain at No. 3 for kills when she concludes her career (she's 213 kills shy of second place), but she could possibly move up one more spot for career digs depending on how many more matches the Beavers play. Moving up a spot for digs is still a possibility, but it will depend on how far the Beavers go in the tournament. She needs 63 digs to move into a tie for sixth place. Schmidt leads the Beavers with 17 double-doubles in the 27 matches she's played in this season. For the year, she has team-highs of 360 kills and 323 digs, ranking third in the Pac-10 for digs (3.33 dpg) and ninth for kills (3.71 kpg). Schmidt has had 10 or more kills in 21 matches, including four with 20-plus, with a season-high 26 against UC Irvine. She also had 25 in a match against Northern Arizona. She's also had 10 or more digs in 18 matches, with 20-plus three times, including 22 twice.

SOLOMON LOOKING TO SECURE A PLACE IN THE RECORD BOOKS: Michele Solomon is already mentioned in the OSU record books for career blocks (She's eighth all-time with 327), but she's looking to etch her name into the books for single-season and career hitting percentage as well. She enters the NCAA Tournament with a team-best .317 hitting percentage (minimum 3.0 attempts per game to be considered), which currently stands as the fifth best mark for one season at OSU. That's also boosted her career percentage up to .263, which ties for eighth best on the career list. Solomon ranks second on the team with 268 kills (2.60 kpg) with double figures in 13 matches, including a team-best 13 kills against Colorado State in OSU's last match. She also leads OSU with 96 blocks (0.93 bpg) this season.

DAEDELOW CLOSING OUT CAREER ON A HIGH NOTE: Lori Daedelow has made the most of her last few matches as a Beaver. In the last four matches, the senior has led the Beavers with 39 digs, good for 2.79 per game - above her season average of 2.56. She's also averaged 2.57 kills per game (36 total) while hitting .214 in the last four matches, well above her season averages of 1.65 kpg and a .105 hitting percentage (although part of the reason for her jump in kills is that she'd played only in the back row for several matches because of problems with her foot, but she played six rotations in the last four matches.). She's had two double-doubles in the last three matches, with 13 kills and 16 digs against UCLA (Nov. 19) and 12 kills and 10 digs against Colorado State (Nov. 24). Until the UCLA match, she hadn't had a double-double since Sept. 28 against Washington. She now has eight double-doubles for the season. She had a season-high 15 kills against San Jose State in the season opener and had a career-high 20 digs in a win against Arizona State.

COLLINS' CORNER: Laura Collins has been a key factor in OSU's success this season. Her 1,231 assists this year rank eighth on OSU's single-season charts, and she'll likely move up this week. She needs 10 to take over the seventh spot, 15 to move into sixth and 47 for fifth place. Collins ranks sixth in the Pac-10 with 12.07 assists per game, and she was named to the all-tournament teams at both of OSU's preseason tournaments. In addition, she was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her efforts in leading OSU to a sweep over the Washington schools in September. She had a career-high 75 assists in OSU's win at Washington in October, with that total equalling OSU's sixth best single-match assists total by one player. It's also good for the most assists by a Pac-10 player in a single match this season. Collins has also jumped into the top 10 for all-time assists at Oregon State, now ranking fifth with 1,299 career assists. Collins is a key defensive player for the Beavers as well, ranking fifth on the team with 208 digs (2.04 dpg). She's had 10 or more in seven matches, most recently posting a team-high 12 at UCLA on November 15.

DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE: Oregon State has relied on strong defensive play all year, ranking among the top three teams in the Pac-10 all season long (including five weeks at No. 1). OSU currently stands in third among league teams with 17.04 digs per game. The Beavers have outdug (or tied) their opponents in all but five of their 28 matches this season. Individually, Gina Schmidt ranks third in the Pac-10 (3.33 dpg). For the year, Schmidt leads the team with 323 digs, and four other Beavers have at least 200. Nikki Neuburger is second with 261 (2.53 dpg), followed by Lori Daedelow with 251 (2.56 dpg), Jessica Papell with 226 (2.33 dpg) and Laura Collins with 208 (2.04 dpg). OSU has two of the top five single-match team totals in the Pac-10 this year (110 against Washington State and 98 against Sacramento State). Nine Beavers have combined for 71 double-figure dig performances in 28 matches this season. Schmidt leads the way with 18, while Neuburger has had 15 double-figure efforts. Four Beavers have had matches with 20+ digs this year, led by Schmidt with three and Megan McMillan with two. Schmidt has had a season-high 22 digs twice. McMillan had a career-high 25 against Northern Arizona and added 24 at home against WSU. K.C. Frederic had 24 against Sacramento State, while Daedelow had a career-high 20 at Arizona State.

BEAVERS SIT ATOP THE CHARTS IN SIX SINGLE-MATCH CATEGORIES AMONG PAC-10 TEAMS: OSU's win at Washington (10/26) placed the Beavers atop the charts in three categories in the Pac-10's list of single-match season bests. OSU's 91 kills in that match was a season-high for the Beavers, and it was also good for the most kills by any Pac-10 team this year. In addition, OSU's 86 assists in that match were the most by a Pac-10 team this year, and Laura Collins' career-high 75 assists in that match is the highest single-match total by an individual in the Pac-10 this season. The Beavers also have the top marks in three other categories as a result of their efforts in other matches this year. OSU's 110 digs against Washington State (9/28) is the most in the conference this season, and Gina Schmidt holds the top marks for total attacks (75 at Northern Arizona, 9/8) and block solos (5 at Arizona State, 9/22).

HEAD COACH NANCY SOMERA: The Beavers are under the direction of third-year head coach Nancy Somera. Somera, whose career record stands at 41-45, 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 and 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.

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