Volleyball Players Gain Valuable Off-Season Experience

July 26, 2002

EUGENE - Five University of Oregon volleyball players are currently competing in off-season matches, an experience that has not been the case for the program in recent years. Outside hitters Heather Gilmore and Lauren Westendorf as well as middle blockers Lindsay Closs and Alisa Nelson are part of the Intermountain High Performance All-Star team competing against the USA National A-2 team in Park City, Utah this week. The all-star team is composed of the four Oregon players as well as college players from Idaho State, Texas, Brigham Young University and Utah, among others.

'This is a chance for our players to see why the top Pac-10 schools are widening the gap,' Oregon head coach Carl Ferreira said. 'Our players show up in August with aspirations of success, but I don't think they understand the talent in the Pac-10. Pac-10 players have been getting the extra reps and now our players are getting a spectacular opportunity.'

The Intermountain High Performance players as well as the USA National team are split into four separate teams and play two matches per day. The tournament started July 24 and will conclude Saturday, July 27. Players from USC, Stanford and UCLA are competing on the USA National A-2 team.

'We're trying to compete so that we're not so far behind in the fall,' Gilmore said. 'It's an opportunity for us to see our competition earlier and try to reach that level. We want to be competitive in the Pac-10 and this type of tournament is a way to start preparing early.'

Also competing is incoming freshman Dariam Acevedo (Trujillo Alta, Puerto Rico). Acevedo is a member of the Puerto Rican National team, currently competing in a five-match tour versus Australia. Acevedo was named Most Valuable Player in 2001 for the Puerto Rico High School Tournament.

'What these players are doing is gaining experience, repetitions and legitimizing their games,' Ferreira said. 'And by doing that, they are going to elevate our program.'

Incoming Fab-50 setter Jodi Bell will be one of several players competing in the Oregon High School All-Star match held at McArthur Court Saturday at 7 p.m.

Oregon's season begins August 31 when the Ducks travel to California to participate in the Northridge Tournament.

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