Beavers Open 2002 Season With Annual OSU Volleyball Showcase

Aug. 27, 2002

THIS WEEK: The Oregon State volleyball team opens the 2002 season by hosting the annual Oregon State Volleyball Showcase on Friday and Saturday, August 30-31, at Gill Coliseum. Joining the Beavers in this year's tournament are Idaho, Idaho State and Missouri. Friday's action pits Idaho State against Missouri at 5 p.m., followed by OSU versus Idaho at 7 p.m. Saturday's action starts with Idaho and Missouri at 10 a.m., followed by Oregon State and Idaho State at noon. Idaho and Idaho State will play at 5:30 p.m., with OSU and Missouri concluding the tournament with a 7:30 p.m. contest.

A FREE-FOR-ALL: All of Oregon State's regular season home volleyball matches will be free admission for all fans this season.

'Right now I'm feeling like every other coach in the country. We're ready to be put to the test. Practice has gone well, and we've continued to improve during double days, but the group is excited to get a chance to face an actual opponent.'

'We're going to use the matches this weekend as a chance to get out, compete and improve. We'll focus on the things we do well, but also look at the things we need to do to improve the following weekend.'

'All three teams are well-coached. Missouri is coming off its second consecutive NCAA appearance, and Idaho and Idaho State have been rebuilding. Both their coaches are now in their third seasons and have improved the programs. I'm anticipating a good tournament.'

SERIES RECORDS: vs. Idaho: Oregon State holds a 6-1 record against the Vandals, although Idaho won the last meeting between the two teams with a four-game win over OSU in the 2000 Portland State Tournament. vs. Idaho State: OSU looks to remain unbeaten against the Bengals, as the Beavers enter the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record against ISU. The teams met last year in Pocatello, and the Beavers won that match in three games. vs. Missouri: OSU is 1-0 against the Tigers, with the only meeting between the two teams coming in the 1999 OSU Showcase. The Beavers won that match in four games.

SENIOR CITIZENS: Oregon State will have its most experienced team in recent years, with six seniors on the 16-player roster. Five of those six are expected to be in the starting lineup for the Beavers. Middle blocker Michele Solomon (2.80 kpg, 0.98 bpg in 2001) and defensive specialist Nikki Neuburger (2.58 dpg) have played in all 87 matches the last three seasons. Joscelyn Hannaford (2.38 kpg, 1.60 dpg) and Katrina Nelson (2.11 kpg, 0.67 bpg), both starters last year, will likely split time at middle blocker and opposite, and Megan McMillan (1.50 kpg, 2.30 dpg) is expected to crack the starting lineup as an outside hitter. OSU's other probable starters are Laura Collins (12.12 apg, 2.13 dpg), a junior setter who was an honorable mention All-Pacific-10 pick last year, and Allison Lawrence (1.96 kpg, 0.83 dpg), a sophomore outside hitter who was an honorable mention pick on the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team a year ago.

THE VOTES ARE IN: OSU received seven votes in the USA Today/American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll. It marks the first time since the 1998 season the Beavers have been mentioned in the preseason poll, although the team never appeared in the poll during the '98 regular season. The Beavers returned to the poll last season, receiving votes in the last five polls of the year, including seven votes in the final poll. Several of OSU's 2002 opponents also are included in this year's preseason poll. Four Pac-10 teams are ranked, and several other Beaver opponents received votes. Stanford was picked No. 1, followed by No. 3 USC, No. 6 Arizona and No. 11 UCLA. Opponents receiving votes are North Carolina (155 points), Washington State (81 points), Minnesota (66 points), Missouri (58 points) and Eastern Washington (7 points). The first regular season poll will be released on September 2.

BEAVERS PICKED SIXTH IN PAC-10 RACE: Oregon State has been picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 race, according to a preseason poll of the league's coaches. Stanford was selected No. 1, followed by USC, Arizona, UCLA, Washington State, OSU, Arizona State, California, Washington and Oregon. The Beavers finished fifth in last year's Pac-10 race after being picked eighth in the preseason poll. OSU posted a 10-8 record in league play last season, finishing with double-figure wins for just the second time since Pac-10 play began in 1986 (OSU went 11-7 in 1990 when it finished third, its best-ever Pac-10 finish).

A LIBERATING EXPERIENCE: The NCAA will permit the use of the libero position beginning this season. A libero is a back-row specialist who can replace any back-row player without counting as a substitution. However, the libero is not allowed to serve, so the Beavers may continue using the defensive specialist position - which does count toward the maximum 12 substitutions per game -instead, because OSU's libero candidates are also among the team's stronger servers. Nikki Neuburger, K.C. Frederic and Lianne Dela Cruz are the top candidates for a libero and/or defensive specialist position.

A LOOK AT IDAHO: The Vandals return only five letterwinners from last year's 11-19 team, but four of those five players were starters in 2001. Among them are sophomores Laura McCaffrey (2.93 kpg, 2.20 dpg) and Brooke Haeberle (3.26 kpg, 2.47 dpg), both of whom were selected to the Big West All-Freshman Team last year. Junior middle blocker Anna-Marie Hammond was third in the Big West with 1.44 blocks per game last year, and she led the Vandals with 337 total kills (3.16 kpg).

VISITING HER DAD'S OLD STOMPING GROUNDS: Idaho redshirt freshman Amy Chamberlain is the daughter of former OSU athlete Tom Chamberlain, who played football and baseball for the Beavers in the mid-70s. Chamberlain earned three letters in football (74-75-76) and three in baseball (75-76-77) before playing minor league ball in the Saint Louis Cardinals organization.

COACHING CONNECTION: Third-year Idaho head coach Debbie Buchanan and fourth-year Oregon State head coach Nancy Somera spent time together at the University of Southern California. Somera was an assistant coach for USC from 1991 until joining the Beavers in 1999. Buchanan was supposed to play for the Women of Troy, but when a knee injury prematurely ended her career, she became a student assistant for the program until graduating in 1996.

A LOOK AT IDAHO STATE: The Bengals, under the direction of third-year head coach Mike Welch, are coming off an 11-18 campaign last season. Last year, ISU advanced to the Big Sky tournament for the first time since 1995, and the Bengals return seven letterwinners and six of eight starters off that team. The Bengals are expected to be led by senior Melanie Tucker, who led the team in both kills (373, 3.69 kpg) and digs (289, 2.86 dpg) and earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors a year ago.

A LOOK AT MISSOURI: Third-year head coach Susan Kreklow has guided the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament in each of her first two season with the program. Last year, Missouri finished 20-11, ending the season with a four-game loss to Illinois in the first round of the NCAA tourney. However, the team returns just five letterwinners from that squad, with three starters back in 2002, although two of those three starters earned All-Big 12 Conference honorable mention recognition last year. Lisa Morris led the team with 4.10 kills per game in 2001, while Christi Myers averaged 3.50 kills, 2.33 digs and 1.19 blocks per game last year.

HEAD COACH NANCY SOMERA: OSU is under the direction of fourth-year head coach Nancy Somera. Somera, whose career record stands at 41-46, arrived at OSU in February 1999 after spending time as an assistant coach at USC since 1991. Last season, Somera guided the Beavers to a 17-12 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history. 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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