Volleyball Preps For NCAA First Round Match-Up Against Liberty

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Nov. 29, 2001

The Facts
The fifth-ranked USC women's volleyball team (22-3, 16-2 Pac-10) - selected as the tournament's No. 4 seed overall - received its 11th consecutive bid to the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship, and will be making its 19th overall appearance. USC travels to Durham, N.C., for the First and Second Round on Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, at Cameron Indoor Stadium on the Duke University campus. The Women of Troy will face the Big South Tournament Champion and automatic qualifier Liberty (21-10) in the first round on Friday at 5:30 p.m. EST. If USC advances, the Trojans will play Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EST against the winner of Friday's Duke/William and Mary match-up.

The winner of the second round advances to the Regionals (Round of 16) to be played Dec. 6-9 at campus sites of the region's highest seeded team. Selected as the No. 4 seed overall, USC is eligible to host a regional if the Trojans advance.

Led by first-year head coach Mick Haley, the Women of Troy are coming off two 3-0 victories over Oregon State (Nov. 20) and Oregon (Nov. 21) last week to complete the regular season.

The Rankings
USC kept its position in the polls after last week's wins over Oregon and Oregon State. The Women of Troy are No. 5 in this week's final regular season USA Today/AVCA Coaches poll and the Volleyball magazine poll. Long Beach State and Nebraska, both of whom USC did not face in the regular season, held onto the No. 1 and 2 spots on the charts, while Stanford and Arizona remained at No. 3 and 4, respectively.

Recent Matches
vs. Oregon State (Nov. 20)
-- Katie Olsovsky hit .786 with a match-high 11 kills and nine blocks to lead USC in a three-game sweep (30-21, 30-9, 30-10) over Oregon State on Nov. 20. Olsosvky was aided by standout performances from Kelli Lantz and Emily Adams, who filled in for Alicia Robinson (sprained ankle) and Jennifer Pahl (sick) when both were sidelined for the match. Lantz contributed seven kills and eight blocks which doubled her previous personal block record of four. In her first three-game match of the season, Adams hit .667 with eight kills off of 12 attacks and no errors. The Trojans held five OSU players to negative hitting percentages. The Beavers hit -.063, with 23 kills and 30 errors for the match. USC hit .388 with 42 kills and just nine errors. The Women of Troy were outstanding defensively as well, with 13 blocks and 43 digs. OSU finished the match with three blocks and 29 digs.

vs. Oregon (Nov. 21) -- In its final Pac-10 match of the season, USC defeated Oregon 30-20, 30-10, 30-20 on Nov. 21. The Trojans exhibited a balanced and potent offense - led by Keao Burdine (20 kills) and April Ross (13 kills) - and an aggressive defense to shut down the Ducks' offensive game plan. Defensively, three USC players finished with double digit digs - Katie Olsovsky (12), Ross (11) and Tracy Lindquist (11). The Women of Troy out-killed Oregon 51-23 and posted a .315 hitting percentage. With its final conference win, USC solidified a second place finish in the Pac-10.

2001 NCAA Tournament Notes
Sixteen first and second round matches will played Nov. 29 through Dec. 2 on the campuses of participating institutions. Winners will advance to regional tournaments held Dec. 6-9 on the campus of the top-seeded qualifying teams. The four regional winners advance to the national championship hosted by San Diego State University in San Diego, Calif. The semifinal matches will be played on Dec. 13 and the championship game will take place on Saturday, Dec. 15. USC (Region 2), Stanford (Region 3), Nebraska (Region 4) and Long Beach State (Region 1) were selected as the top seeds in each region.

USC History In The NCAAs
The Women of Troy are making their 11th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and their 19th overall since the tournament's inception in 1981. USC has only missed the tournament twice, in 1986 and 1990, after posting its only two losing seasons in program history. With a 30-17 all-time NCAA tournament record, USC has won one NCAA national championship and advanced to the Final Four on four occasions, including last season. Led by All-Americans Dana Smith and Cathy Stukel, the Trojans claimed the first-ever NCAA women's volleyball title in 1981. Entering the tournament as underdogs on a four-match losing streak, USC won when it counted by beating UCLA in the championship match after being down 2-1. The team ended the 1981 season with a 27-10 overall record and the title in hand. USC also won AIAW national titles in 1976, 1977 and 1980.

Injury Report
Outside hitter Alicia Robinson has recovered from a sprained her right ankle she suffered midway through the second game against Oregon on Friday (Nov. 16). She returned to practice on Monday, Nov. 26, and is expected to regain her starting position.

Opponent Notes

(21-10, 11-3 for second place tie in Big South Conference)
Liberty is hot right now, having won 17 of their last 20 matches and their last five in a row, including an upset sweep over top-seeded Radford to capture the Big South tourney. This will be the Lady Flames' third NCAA appearance in the past five years under Coach Chris Phillips (they lost first round matches to Notre Dame in 1997 and Florida in 1999). Liberty has a team hitting mark of just .206 and has only four players 6-0 or taller, including All-Big South First team senior outside hitter Rachel Harnack (team-high 479 kills, .252, 27 aces, 284 digs, 70 blocks). She was the MVP of the Big South tournament. Freshman outside hitter Jennifer Belk (437 kills, .197, 25 aces, team-high 371 digs) made the Big South All-Rookie team and was on the All-Big South second team along with senior outside hitter Summer Elmquist (330 kills, .175, 25 aces, 262 digs). Although she's only 5-8, sophomore outside hitter Erin McKeown (251 digs, .291, 361 digs) leads the squad in blocks (94). Liberty has been outblocked by opponents in 2001, 1.73 to 2.39.

USC-Liberty Series Record - USC has never played Liberty

Opponent Comparisons Kpg Pct. Apg SApg Dpg Bpg
Liberty 15.90 .206 14.65 1.47 17.05 1.73
USC 17.40 .311 16.00 1.22 16.29 3.00

(22-4, 13-3 for first place in Atlantic Coast Conference)

Duke won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title (its first in seven years) and got to the ACC tourney semifinal match before losing to Florida State, 3-1. The Blue Devils are making their ninth NCAA appearance, but just their second since 1995 (they lost to Arizona State in the first round in 2000). Duke had winning streaks of 11, six and five matches this season. Under the guidance of ACC Coach of the Year Jolene Nagel, the Blue Devils are led by 6-1 senior outside hitter Ashley Harris (team-high 336 kills, .297, 27 aces, team-best 256 digs), an All-ACC first teamer, and 6-2 sophomore middle blocker Krista Dill (246 kills, .311, team-high 119 blocks), who made the All-ACC second team. Junior Josie Weymann (255 digs, 20 aces) made the All-ACC first team as a defensive specialist. Senior outside hitter Dorrette Burwell (294 kills, .267) made the ACC All-Tournament team.

USC-Duke Series Record - In the only meeting in the series, USC beat Duke, 3-0, in 1997 in an early-season tournament at Michigan State.

Opponent Comparisons Kpg Pct. Apg SApg Dpg Bpg
Duke 15.25 .257 13.28 1.73 15.97 2.76
USC 17.40 .311 16.00 1.22 16.29 3.00

William and Mary
(22-5, 11-1 for first place in Colonial Athletic Conference)

William and Mary won both the Colonial Athletic Association regular season championship and conference tourney. The Tribe, which is coming off a loss to 3-0 Washington State in a Thanksgiving tournament in Las Vegas, will be making its first-ever NCAA appearance. Coach Debbie Hill's squad is led by senior All-CAA first team selections Tara Tobias (team-high 278 kills, .220, team-best 40 aces, team-high 303 digs), a 5-8 outside hitter, and 6-0 middle blocker Laurel Witt (233 kills, .312, 64 blocks), and 6-1 freshman middle blocker Carly Huffman (162 kills, .282, team-high 106 blocks), who made the All-CAA second team and was the CAA's Co-Rookie of the Year. Tobias was the CAA Tournament's MVP and was joined on the All-Tourney team by fellow seniors Stacy Woodson (179 kills, .249), a 6-0 outside hitter, and setter Sarah Gubler (845 assists, 190 digs). Only 4 players stand 6-0 or taller.

USC-William and Mary Series Record - USC has never played William and Mary.

Opponent Comparisons Kpg Pct. Apg SApg Dpg Bpg
William and Mary 15.55 .240 13.56 2.22 16.07 2.21
USC 17.40 .311 16.00 1.22 16.29 3.00

Stanford Wins 2001 Pac-10 Title, Trojans Finish Second
Stanford has won or shared the Pac-10 title seven of the last eight years, including this season - the exception was last season when USC and Arizona shared the 2000 conference title. After dropping two matches in the Pac-10 this season, the Women of Troy finished second at 16-2, while the Cardinal placed first with a 17-1 record (its only loss was to USC on Oct. 12).

Pac-10 Notes
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 1990, 1991, Stanford 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997) *** 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 *** The Pac-10 posted an impressive 72-20 (.783) record against non-league foes this season, including a mark of 18-9 (.667) against non-conference teams ranked in the Top 25 *** Neutral court experience should help Pac-10 teams as they enter postseason play as they compiled a 26-1 (.963) record in neutral venues.

USC Has Five named To All-Conference Teams
Three USC women's volleyball standouts - Jennifer Pahl, April Ross and Katie Olsovsky - were each named to the 2001 All-Pac-10 women's volleyball first team. The first-team honor is the third consecutive of Pahl's career, the second of Ross' career and the first for Olsovsky. The Women of Troy had five total players who earned all-conference honors. Freshmen Keao Burdine and Alicia Robinson were each named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team, while Burdine also received All-Pac-10 honorable mention accolades. Stanford's Logan Tom, a three-time All-Pac-10 selection, was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year, teammate Ogonna Nnamani was named Freshman of the Year and Cardinal head coach John Dunning was honored as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

Five Named Pac-10 All-Academic
Sophomores April Ross (3.06, business major) and Toni Anderson (3.29, psychology), juniors Lauren Killian (3.00, business) and Tracy Lindquist (3.21, general studies) and senior Jennifer Pahl (3.01, anthropology) were named to the 2001 Pac-10 all-academic honorable mention team. This is the second consecutive honor for Killian and Lindquist. To be eligible for selection to the all-academic team, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average and be either a starter or significant contributor.

Haley En Route To 800 Career Victories
With 795 collegiate career wins to date, head coach Mick Haley is just five wins shy of reaching the 800 mark. These career victories include the 251-51 record he garnered while at Kellogg Community College. His overall Division I record is 544-140-1.

Against Ranked Opponents
Of the 10 matches USC has played against ranked opponents, Arizona and Stanford are the only teams to have claimed victories.

Prior to match After loss/win
Sept. 2 vs. Wisconsin (N) - L, 3-2 No. 4 No. 2
Sept. 7 at Hawai'i (A) - W, 3-0 No. 10 No. 12
Sept. 18 vs. UCSB (H) - W, 3-0 No. 18 No. 19
Sept. 21 vs. UCLA (H) - W, 3-0 No. 8 No. 8
Sept. 29 vs. Arizona (H) - W, 3-0 No. 3 No. 7
Oct. 12 vs. Stanford (H) - W, 3-1 No. 4 No. 4
Oct. 16 vs. Pepperdine (H) - W, 3-1 No. 14 No. 12
Oct.19 at UCLA (A) - W, 3-2 No. 5 No. 6
Oct. 25 at Arizona (A) - L, 3-0 No. 7 No. 4
Nov. 10 at Stanford (A) - L, 3-1 No. 3 No. 3

Southland Dominance
As it is in most years, seven Southern California teams (USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, San Diego, Long Beach State, UCSB and San Diego State) advanced to the 2001 NCAA Championships. Between USC, UCLA and Long Beach State are seven NCAA titles and 13 national championships. A Southern California team has also reached the semifinals (Final Four) in 15 of 19 NCAA Championships (including the last three consecutive).

Pahl Plays Last regular Season Match at USC
Senior middle blocker Jennifer Pahl played her final regular season home match of her four-year career at USC on Friday, Nov. 16, against Oregon. Fittingly, she recorded the Trojans final point of the night on a kill and finished with 10 kills (.350) and a team-leading six blocks.

The lone senior on this year's roster, Pahl will leave USC as one of its top all-time middle blockers. A Pac-10 All-Freshman selection in 1998, she has earned three All-Pac-10 first team selections (1999, 2000 & 2001) since then, and was named an All-American by the AVCA (second team) and Volleyball magazine (honorable mention) last season. Pahl likely will finish her career among the Women of Troy's top 10 record-holders in total blocks (388 to date), block assists (327 to date), blocks per game (1.07 bpg to date) and attack percentage (.350 to date).

April In November
April Ross has been the Trojans' most consistent performer all season, but the sophomore outside hitter has done nothing but improve her performances in November. In eight matches this month, Ross has averaged a .335 attack percentage, 4.43 kills, 3.00 digs and 5.18 points per game. The dramatic increase is evident when you compare the numbers to her stats in October - a .220 attack percentage, 3.68 kills, 2.93 digs and 4.07 points per game.

USC Ends Home Schedule With Clean slate
With wins over Oregon State and Oregon on Nov. 15 and 16, the Women of Troy completed their second-consecutive season with a perfect record at home. On Sept. 21, a home victory over UCLA set a new mark for consecutive home wins (20) for the Trojans. To date, USC has won 29 consecutive matches at home, starting with a 3-0 win over Rhode Island on Sept. 6, 2000. USC's previous record was 19 straight home victories set between Sept. 25, 1976, and Oct. 19, 1978.

Fab Freshmen Become Super Sophs
USC's Fab Freshmen of 2000 have become Super Sophs of 2001! Last season, three of USC's six starters were first-year players (Toni Anderson, Katie Olsovsky, April Ross). Between the three of them, they led the team in kills, attacks, assists and service aces throughout the season. So far this season, sophomores lead the team in kills (Ross, 4.07 kpg), assists (Anderson, 8.59 apg), digs (Ross, 2.89 dpg), blocks (Olsovsky, 1.26 bpg) and aces (Nicole Davis, 0.33 sapg).

Olsovsky Making Mark In Record Books
With a .786 attack percentage (11-0-14) against OSU on Nov. 20 (just two weeks after hitting .778 against Cal on Nov. 9), Katie Olsovsky added another mark to the USC record books. This time her performance ranks second among USC's top 10, pushing her record against Cal to third. Earlier this season she also hit .733 against the Bears in their first meeting on Oct. 13 - a mark which now ranks sixth in the record books. Last season she posted a .688 effort against Oregon which was 10th on the charts but has since been knocked off.

Trojans Find Ace In Davis
Defensive specialist Nicole Davis has a killer serve... and no team knows that better than Stanford. Davis collected seven service aces against the Cardinal, including six in the first two games. The mark fell just one ace shy of the USC record and ranks Davis' performances fifth in the record books (there is a four-way tie for first place with eight aces in a match). On the year, Davis has 28 aces and averages 0.33 aces per game.

We've Got Options
It was just two years ago that the volleyball team only had nine healthy players on the roster. Now, the 2001 roster lists four outside hitters, four middle blockers and five defensive specialists. The depth allows USC to better match-up with opponents, but it does sacrifice individual statistics. No one player has amassed more than 24 kills in a single match this season (April Ross vs. Oregon, Nov. 16). A group of players share the lead in nearly every category - five players are averaging more than 2.41 kills per game, six average more than 2.0 digs per outing and two average more than 1.20 blocks per game.

USC Second in NCAA In Assists Thanks To Setting Duo
As of Nov. 16, the Trojans are second in the nation in team assists with a then-16.05 assist per game average. Ironically, the Women of Troy don't have a setter ranked in the Top 25 nationally or even among the Top 9 in the Pac-10. This is because USC uses two setters. Running a 6-2 offense, the Trojans boast the talent of both Toni Anderson and Tracy Lindquist. The two see equal time on the court and, while they sacrifice individual accolades, together they lead the nation's No. 5 team. Anderson and Lindquist average 8.59 and 5.74 assists per game, respectively.

USC Still Dominating At The Net
USC has held opponents this season to a .162 average attack percentage. Arizona and Stanford are the only opponents this season to hit above .200 when the Wildcats managed to hit .305 on Sept. 29 and .395 on Oct. 25, while the Cardinal hit .278 on Oct. 12 and .313 on Nov. 10. The Trojans dominate at the net overall by out-hitting opponents .311 to .162 (16.00 to 12.29 kills per game), out-blocking opponents by a 1.20 margin and forcing 7.17 opponent attack errors per game. USC ranks first in the Pac-10 in attack percentage, opponent attack percentage and kills, and second in blocks (3.00 bpg).

Olsovsky Named AVCA/Sports Imports National Player of the Week and Two-Time Pac-10 Player of the Week
Katie Olsovsky was named Pac-10 Player of the Week and AVCA/Sports Imports National Player of the Week on Oct. 14. One week later, she earned her second-consecutive Pac-10 Player of the Week honor. Olsovsky first led the Trojans in wins over Stanford (Oct. 12) and Cal (Oct. 13), hitting a combined .667 with 21 kills (3.00 kpg), 18 digs (2.57 dpg) and seven blocks (1.00 bpg). Her .667 average attack percentage included just one error in 30 attempts in seven games. Against Cal, Olsovsky hit .733 (11-0-15) - a mark which ranks sixth among USC individual match records. The following week, she played a pivotal role in USC's victories over No. 14 Pepperdine and No. 5 UCLA. For the week, she hit .511 with 24 kills (2.67 kpg) and just one error in 45 attempts. In the win over UCLA, Olsovsky fell one block short of a triple-double with 10 kills (.391), 10 digs and a career high nine blocks. Olsovksy is only the third athlete in USC women's volleyball history to earn National Player of the Week honors. The first was Jasmina Marinkovic on Sept. 22, 1997 and April Ross received the honor last season on Nov. 13, 2000. She is only the second player in Pac-10 history to win the honor in back-to-back weeks USC's Jennifer Kessy was the first to do so in October, 1998.

A Scoring Leader?
This season's change to rally scoring has also introduced a new category of stats. Now every kill, block and ace will not only earn a team a point, but the responsible player gets a point as well (just as a basketball player contributes 20 points in a game). The formula is as follows:
points = kills + service aces + solo blocks + 1/2 block assists.

For example, April Ross leads the team with a total of 392.0 points this season (she has accumulated 346 kills, 17 aces, eight block solos and 42 block assists). She averages 4.61 points per game and 15.7 points per match.

Wildcats Snap USC's 13-match Win Streak
With a USC loss on Oct. 25, Arizona was the team to snap the Women of Troy's 13-match win streak. Ironically, it was the Wildcats who also put an end to the Trojans' 14-match win streak last season. Both losses took place in Tucson, Ariz., by 3-0 scores. The program win streak record was set during the 1976 through 1978 seasons when the Trojans won 56 consecutive matches.

Katie Olsovsky set a new career mark with a .786 (10-0-14) attack performance against Oregon State (Nov. 20) - the mark ranks second among program records... she now owns four of the top 10 USC individual attack percentages *** With nine against the Beavers (Nov. 20), Katie Olsovsky also tied a career high in blocks *** Kelli Lantz posted a career-high eight blocks against Oregon State (Nov. 20) *** Toni Anderson set a new career high with three blocks against Oregon (Nov. 16) *** Against Oregon (Nov. 16), Nicole Davis set a new career-high with 14 digs *** Kelli Lantz tied a career-best with 18 total attacks against Oregon (Nov. 16) *** USC has had three 1,000+ crowds (vs. UCLA 9/21, vs. Arizona 9/29, vs. Stanford 10/12) *** Toni Anderson tied a career high with three aces against Cal (Nov. 9) *** Toni Anderson set two career marks against Washington State (Nov. 3) with three aces and three kills *** Katie Olsovsky tied a career-high with 11 digs against the Cougars (Nov. 3) *** Against WSU (Nov. 3), Nicole Davis set a new career mark with 13 digs *** USC recorded its lowest point total in a single game against Arizona on Oct. 25 in a 30-15 game two loss *** The Trojans defeated the Bruins twice this season for the first time since 1998 *** Toni Anderson set a new career high with 54 assists against the Bruins (Oct. 19) *** Katie Olsovsky tied career highs with nine blocks against UCLA (Oct. 19) and 11 digs against Pepperdine (Oct. 16) *** Nicole Davis had a career-high seven service aces vs. Stanford (Oct. 12) - the mark ranks fifth among USC records (one ace shy of the mark) *** The Trojans won 27 consecutive games this season (9/6-10/5) *** Against No. 3 Arizona, five players hit above .400 and the Women of Troy hit .450 as a team *** Alicia Robinson's hitting performance (14-0-20, .700) against the Bruins (Sept. 21) ranks 10th all-time among USC individual match leaders *** Katie Olsovsky collected a career-high nine blocks against UCSB (Sept. 18) and then surpassed a career high with 11 digs against UCLA (Sept. 21).

Freshman Class Ranked No. 1 (Again)
For the second year in a row, the USC women's volleyball program landed the nation's top recruiting class, according to Volleyball and Student Sports Magazine. The Women of Troy's 2001 recruiting class - which includes Emily Adams, Alicia Robinson, and Keao Burdine - have added to the depth and talent that players such as April Ross (2000 AVCA second team All-American, Volleyball Freshman of the Year), Katie Olsovsky (Volleyball All-Freshman team) and Toni Anderson (Volleyball All-Freshman team) provided USC last season.

USC Takes Over U.S.A. Junior National Team
Sophomores Katie Olsovsky, April Ross and Toni Anderson and freshmen Alicia Robinson and Keao Burdine helped the U.S.A. Junior National Team qualify for the World Championships with a third place finish at the Intercontinental Qualification Tournament in Monterrey, Mexico, this summer. Of the six United States starters, four were Trojans.

Haley In First Season
Mick Haley is in his first official season as head coach of the Women of Troy. Though hired in 1999 to replace former head coach Lisa Love, Haley completed his term as head coach of the U.S.A. Women's National Team before joining the Trojans. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, he led the United States to an unexpected fourth-place finish. Haley coached Texas for 17 seasons (1980-1996) and led the Longhorns to two national championships. He owns a 542-140-1 (.795) Division I career record and a 793-191-1 (.806) overall mark.

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