Volleyball Headed To Minnesota Nike Invitational

Sept. 10, 2002

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THIS WEEK: The Oregon State volleyball team, with a perfect 5-0 record, hits the road for the first time this season as the Beavers head to Minneapolis for the Minnesota Nike Invitational on Sept. 13-14. The competition will be the toughest the Beavers have faced this year, with OSU playing its first ranked opponents of the season. The weekend kicks off with the Beavers playing No. 13 Minnesota (7-2) at 5:30 p.m. PDT on Friday. On Saturday, OSU faces No. 20 North Carolina (6-0) at 8:00 a.m. PDT before wrapping things up with a match against Ball State (2-4) at 3:00 p.m. PDT.

'There is a lot of competitive trust on the floor right now. Starting the season 5-0 helps, but it's the way we are beating teams and the preparation for the season that has our team playing with confidence. We have two ranked teams on our schedule this weekend, (Minnesota and North Carolina) and a third team (Ball State) who is statistically improving, so I anticipate a very competitive weekend.'

OFF AND ROLLING: OSU's 5-0 start is its best since the 1998 season, when the Beavers went 6-0 before losing to No. 4 Nebraska. OSU won its first 11 matches in 1996 for its best-ever start.

PLAYING THE BEST: The 2002 team will have one of OSU's toughest schedules in recent years, at least based on this week's AVCA/USA Today Top 25 poll. The Beavers' schedule includes 12 matches against seven Top 25 teams and an additional six matches against four teams that are receiving votes. OSU has already played one of those teams, with the Beavers defeating Missouri, 3-1, on August 31. This week's Minnesota tournament will give OSU its first test against ranked opponents, with the Beavers taking on the 13th-ranked Gophers and 20th-ranked Tar Heels. Pac-10 play begins the following week, and five Pac-10 teams are ranked this week. An additional two are receiving votes. Two matches are scheduled against each Pac-10 opponent.

RECAPPING LAST WEEK'S ACTION: The Beavers picked up wins over Boise State (3-0) and Cal State Northridge (3-1) on September 7 to claim the OSU Volleyball Challenge title. Joscelyn Hannaford was named the tournament MVP, while Laura Collins and Megan McMillan also earned all-tourney honors. Hannaford averaged 3.29 kills and 4.14 digs per game, while McMillan hit .390 with a team-best 4.29 kills per game. Collins averaged 12.43 assists and 2.43 digs per game.

SERIES RECORDS: vs. Minnesota: The Beavers and Gophers have met just once, playing each other in the 1994 NIVC Tournament. Minnesota won the match in four games (13-15, 15-8, 12-15, 11-15). vs. North Carolina: Saturday's match will be the first meeting between OSU and UNC in volleyball. vs. Ball State: OSU is a perfect 3-0 against the Cardinals. The teams last met in 1999 at the Nanook Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, when the Beavers won in three games (15-9, 15-11, 15-11). Current OSU senior Michele Solomon hit .471 with 10 kills in the win.

A LOOK AT MINNESOTA: The Gophers (7-2) jumped seven spots up to No. 13 in the Top 25 poll after beating then-No. 7 UCLA in three games last week. Minnesota also swept Rhode Island before falling to then-No. 9 Northern Iowa in four games. It was just the second loss of the year for Minnesota, with No. 1 Stanford handing the Gophers their only other loss. Cassie Busse has led the team thus far, hitting .329 while averaging 4.17 kills per game (125 total), 2.03 digs per game and 1.20 blocks per game (36 total).

A LOOK AT NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels picked up three more wins last week to improve to 6-0 and move up to No. 20 in the latest poll. UNC swept Montana and came away with 3-1 wins over Northwestern and San Diego over the weekend to remain unbeaten. Laura Greene has topped UNC both offensively and defensively, leading the team with 87 kills (4.35 kpg) and 72 digs (3.60 dpg). Molly Pyles has chipped in 3.47 kills and 2.95 digs per game.

A LOOK AT BALL STATE: The Cardinals (2-4) picked up their first wins of the season last week, defeating Texas Tech (3-2) and UNLV (3-1) but losing to Cal (3-0). Sarah Obras leads the team with 3.41 kills and 1.73 digs per game, and Katie Butts averages 3.09 kills and 1.64 digs per game.

DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE: Oregon State has outdug its opponents in every match this year. In fact, the Beavers have dug nearly five more balls per game than the opposition, with OSU averaging 18.12 digs per game compared with 13.18 for its opponents. OSU's strong defense is noted in the latest Pacific-10 statistics, with the Beavers leading the conference as a team and having three of the top four individual dig leaders as well. Nikki Neuburger leads the league with 4.06 digs per game, while Joscelyn Hannaford is second at 3.88 dpg, followed by Megan McMillan is fourth with 3.53 dpg. No other school has more than two players among the league leaders for digs.

OTHER STATISTICAL LEADERS: In addition to its defensive dominance in the Pac-10 statistics, the Beavers have several individuals ranked in various other categories. Laura Collins' 13.76 assists per game is best in the league. Megan McMillan checks in at ninth for kills (3.82 kpg) and 10th for hitting percentage (.357), while Joscelyn Hannaford is 10th for kills (3.71 kpg).

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).

HEAD COACH NANCY SOMERA: OSU is under the direction of fourth-year head coach Nancy Somera. Somera, whose career record stands at 46-46, 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.

#1 Lianne Dela Cruz, Jr., DS

Has played in all 17 games... Has 27 digs, for an average of 1.59 dpg... Had a season-best seven digs against both Idaho State and Missouri.

#3 Karah Rhoades, RS-Fr., OH
Already making an impact in her first year of collegiate action... Has played in 10 games as a backup outside hitter, posting 15 kills (1.50 kpg) while hitting .344... Had her best match against Missouri, when she had six kills.

#4 Tami Halleck, Sr., DS
Has played in two matches, Idaho State and Boise State, for her first collegiate playing time... Was brought in to serve one play in both matches, including the final play of OSU's win over Boise State.

#5 Michele Solomon, Sr., MB
After struggling somewhat offensively in the first week of the season (she hit .236 with just 2.20 kills per game that week), she returned to her old form last week... In two matches last week, she averaged 2.71 kills per game while hitting a team-best .500... Had 13 kills and hit .591 against Cal State Northridge, shattering her previous career-high for hitting percentage (.471 against Ball State in 1999)... That upped her season percentage to .333 and her career percentage to .267 (eighth best in OSU history)... Has 13 blocks on the year, giving her 347 career blocks, good for seventh all-time in OSU history.

#9 Desma Stovall, Fr., S
Picked up her first collegiate assists last week... Had four assists in limited action against Boise State... Also had two service aces in that match... Has played in a total of four games.

#13 Joscelyn Hannaford, Sr., Opp.
Earned Most Valuable Player honors at the OSU Challenge last week, earning all-tournament honors for the second week in a row after also being honored at the OSU Showcase... Has two double-doubles in five matches... Ranks second on the team and in the Pac-10 with 3.88 digs per game (66 total)... Averaging 3.71 kills per game (63 total), second on the team and 10th in the Pac-10... Hitting .293 so far... Tied for the team lead with 14 blocks... Had a career-high 24 kills against Missouri in the first week of the season... Served a career-high five aces against Cal State Northridge last week, the most by a Beaver... Has had a season-high 17 digs twice, vs. Missouri and Cal State Northridge.

#14 K.C. Frederic, Jr., DS/OH
Has played in four games, but has not recorded any statistics.

#15 Megan McMillan, Sr., OH
Has emerged as one of OSU's top players in her first season as a full-time starter... Earned all-tournament honors at last week's OSU Challenge... In the two matches last week, she hit .390 with 4.29 kills per game... Was the Beavers' kill leader in both of last week's wins... Had a career-high 18 kills in the win over Cal State Northridge and led the Beavers with 12 kills and 12 digs against Boise State, good for the only double-double for either team in that match... For the season, Megan is hitting a team-best .357 (10th in the Pac-10) and leads the team with 65 kills (3.82 kpg, good for ninth best in the Pac-10)... Ranks third on the team with 60 digs (3.53 dpg, fourth in the Pac-10)... Has three double-doubles on the year.

#16 Katelyn Healy, RS-Fr., OH
Made her collegiate debut against Boise State last week, seeing action in one game.

#19 Katrina Nelson, Sr., MB
Has played in 15 of 17 games this season... Hitting .282 with 35 kills (2.33 kpg)... Leads the team with 0.93 blocks per game (14 total)... Her best match of the season so far came against Missouri on August 31, when she hit .320 with 10 kills and a team-high six blocks... Hit .417 with seven kills against Boise State last week.

Amanda Eggert, So., MB
Has played in six games as a back-up middle blocker... Hitting an impressive .545 with seven kills (1.17 kpg)... Also has one block and two digs.

#22 Allison Lawrence, So., OH
Has played in all 17 games... Averaging 2.94 kills per game (50 total) while hitting .272... Earned all-tournament honors at the OSU Showcase the first week of the season... Had a career-high 13 kills against Idaho, the first match of the year... Leads OSU with eight aces (0.47 sapg) and has served at least one ace in every match this year.

#23 Laura Collins, Jr., S
Named to the all-tournament teams at both of the tournaments the Beavers have played in this year (including earning MVP honors in the OSU Showcase the first week of the season)... Has dished out 234 assists so far, good for 13.76 per game to rank first in the Pac-10... Has 33 digs (1.94 dpg), including a season-high 10 against Cal State Northridge last week... Hitting .286 with 18 kills (1.06 kpg).

#31 Nikki Neuburger, Sr., L
Leads the team and the Pac-10 Conference with 4.06 digs per game (69 total)... Had a career-high 23 digs to lead the team against Cal State Northridge last week and has had double figures in four of the five matches this year.

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