Volleyball Hosts New Hampshire In NCAA First Round, Friday

Dec. 3, 2003

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2003 NCAA Tournament Bracket
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The Facts

The undefeated and top-ranked USC women's volleyball team (29-0, 18-0 Pac-10) - selected as the tournament's top seed overall - received its 13th consecutive bid to the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship, and will be making its 21st overall appearance. USC - the 2003 Pac-10 Champion -- will host the first and second rounds on Friday, Dec. 5, and Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Lyon Center. The Women of Troy will face New Hampshire (23-11) in the first round on Friday at 7 p.m. If USC advances, the Trojans will play Saturday at 6 p.m. (following the USC-Oregon State football game) against the winner of Friday's No. 15 Loyola Marymount/Cal State Northridge match-up. All of USC's matches can be heard live on www.usctrojans.com.

Friday, Dec. 5 - 5 p.m.
Loyola Marymount vs. Cal State Northridge

Friday, Dec. 5 - 7 p.m.
(1) USC vs. New Hampshire

Saturday, Dec. 6 - 6 p.m.
USC/New Hampshire vs. LMU/CSUN

The winner of the second round advances to the NCAA Regional (Round of 16 and Elite Eight) to be played Dec. 12 and 13 on the campus of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb.

Led by third-year head coach Mick Haley, the Women of Troy are coming off a 3-1 victory over nonconference opponent Cal State Northridge and a 3-0 win against Houston last week to complete the regular season.

USC Wins 2003 Pac-10 Championship With Perfect Mark
USC captured the 2003 Pac-10 Championship with a perfect 18-0 record. This is the first time the Women of Troy have gone unbeaten in Pac-10 conference play and the eighth such record in Pac-10 history. The Women of Troy have now won the last three-of-four conference titles. USC has won six conference titles in its 27-year program history (1976, 1977 and 1980 WCAA champions, 2000 Pac-10 co-champions, 2002 and 2003 Pac-10 champions).

The Rankings
After entering the season at No. 1, the Women of Troy have held on to the top spot every week. USC kept all 65 first-place votes to remain No. 1 on this week's USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll and the top spot in the Volleyball magazine poll.

Charting the Streaks
USC has won its last 41 consecutive matches (dating back to 11/2/02 when they lost 3-2 to Stanford at home), 18 consecutive home matches and 32 consecutive road matches. The Trojans have not dropped a road match since the 2001 season (a 3-1 loss at Stanford, 11/10/01).

USC Just Three Wins Away From Tieing NCAA Record
With a program record 41 straight NCAA victories**, the Women of Troy are just three wins shy of tieing the NCAA Division I record. Penn State currently owns the mark with 44 straight wins collected from Aug. 31 through Dec. 7, 1990. UCLA is second on the list with 43 consecutive wins between 1991 and 1992.

**The Trojans overall program record is 56 straight wins set from 1976 to 1978, before volleyball became an NCAA sport.

The Only Unbeaten Team
USC is the only Division I team to make it through the 2003 regular season undefeated. It is also only the second time in program history that the Women of Troy have accomplished the feat. The first was in 1977 when USC finished the regular season at 26-0 and went on to win the AIAW National Championship with a final 38-0 overall mark.

Only three teams in NCAA and AIAW women's volleyball history have managed to go undefeated, in addition to winning a national title. USC did so in 1977, followed by Long Beach State in 1998 and Nebraska in 2000.

Recent Matches
at Cal State Northridge (Nov. 25)
- Five players posted double digit kills, as USC defeated Cal State Northridge, 3-1 (34-32, 30-32, 30-17, 30-22), on Nov. 25. Seven players hit above .333 in the match, led by the efforts of Bibiana Candelas who posted a team-best 16 kills off of 31 attacks for a .387 attack percentage. April Ross was next on the list with 15 kills, in addition to adding five blocks. Emily Adams and Katie Olsovsky also contributed five blocks apiece and Nicole Davis and Keao Burdine each led with 16 digs. Toni Anderson collected 51 assists in the winning effort. After a close game one, the Matadors used the momentum to come away with a 32-30 win in the second game. With a .459 attack effort in game three, USC was back on track and took the final two games for the win.

vs. Houston (Nov. 29) - Emily Adams had 12 kills to help USC conclude an undefeated regular season with a 30-22, 30-14, 30-21 victory over Houston on Nov. 29. Adams hit .786 in the match. April Ross added nine kills and three aces for USC, while Bibiana Candelas had eight kills and six blocks. The Women of Troy outhit the Cougars, .438 to .087, and had more blocks (12.0 to 4.0) and digs (39 to 26). USC got off to a slow start in the first game, trailing 19-17 before scoring 9 of the next 10 points to gain control. In the second game, USC went on a 12-1 spree to open up a 19-7 lead. USC led throughout the third game as many Trojan reserves saw action.

2003 NCAA Tournament Notes
Sixteen first and second round matches will played Dec. 4 through Dec. 7 on the campuses of participating institutions. Winners will advance to regional tournaments held Dec. 12-15 at four predesignated regional campus sites (for the first time in NCAA women's volleyball history), including Long Beach State, Nebraska, Florida and Hawai'i. All four regional finals will be televised live by ESPN. The matches will air on local ESPN cable affiliates, regional sports networks and over-the-air stations around the country.

The four regional winners advance to the national championship hosted by the Big 12 Conference and the Dallas Convention and Visitor's Bureau in Dallas, Texas. The semifinal matches will be played on Dec. 18 and the championship game will take place on Saturday, Dec. 20. USC (Lincoln, Neb. Regional), Pepperdine (Long Beach, Calif. Regional), Florida (Gainesville, Fla. Regional) and Hawai'i (Honolulu, Hawai'i Regional) were selected as the top seeds in each region.

ESPN2 will air the final three tournament matches, including the four regional finals, two semifinals and championship match. Regional finals will be broadcast by ESPN and aired on local cable affiliates. The first tournament semifinal will be tape delayed by ESPN2 on Dec. 18 at 11 p.m. EST. The second semifinal will also be tape delayed by ESPN on Dec. 19 at 3:30 p.m. EST. The national championship match will be broadcast live Dec. 20 at 3:30 p.m. EST on ESPN2.

USC History In The NCAAs
The Women of Troy are making their 13th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and their 21st 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 39-18 (.684) all-time NCAA tournament record, USC has won two NCAA national championships (including last season) and advanced to the Final Four on five occasions, including in 2000 and 2002.

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.

First team All-Americans April Ross and Emily Adams led the Women of Troy to the 2002 NCAA championship. With the talent of five-of-six returners, USC was more determined than ever to make it back to the NCAA semifinals (after advancing to the Final Four in 2000). The Trojans got past the first four rounds of the NCAA Tournament with ease and took care of Florida in the NCAA Semifinal in four games. After splitting victories with Stanford during the regular season, USC captured a four-game victory over the Cardinal for its first national championship in more than 20 years.

USC also won AIAW national titles in 1976, 1977 and 1980.

Fan Support Highlights Women of Troy Season
The Women of Troy have enjoyed great fan support this season. USC has played in front of six 1,000+ crowds this season, including a season-best 1,893 who attended the USC-UCLA match on Nov. 21. USC looks to match that this week when it hosts the first and second round of the NCAAs. Trojan fans who present a USC-Oregon State football game ticket at Saturday's volleyball match will get in FREE.

Seniors To Leave As USC's Best
In four years, USC's five seniors -- setter Toni Anderson, libero Nicole Davis, middle blocker/outside hitter Kelli Lantz, middle blocker/opposite hitter Katie Olsovsky and outside hitter April Ross -- have revived the championship tradition of Women of Troy volleyball. These players have led the Women of Troy to the 2002 NCAA Championship, the 2000 NCAA Final Four, 2001 NCAA Regional Final and three Pac-10 Championships. They have posted a combined 113-8 overall record (.934), 66-5 (.930) Pac-10 record, won three-of-four conference titles and finished every season ranked in the top 5 nationally. The five arrived in 2000 as the No. 1 recruiting class in the country and are looking to leave the same way they came.

April Ross Named Pac-10 Player of the Year
Outside hitter April Ross topped off her four-year career at USC by being selected as the Pac-10 Player of the Year by conference coaches on Nov. 25. Ross, a four-time all-conference first-team selection, becomes USC's first-ever Pac-10 Player of the Year and only the second Trojans player to earn conference MVP honors. Setter Cathy Stukel was the first to do so in 1980 as part of the West Coast Athletic Association.

USC Has Five named To All-Conference First Team
In another program first, five USC players were named to the All-Pac-10 first team, including April Ross, Emily Adams, Keao Burdine, Bibiana Candelas and Toni Anderson. Eight total players earned all-conference honors. Nicole Davis and Katie Olsovsky were named All-Pac-10 honorable mention and Kimi Freeburg was named Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention.

Five Earn Pac-10 Academic Accolades
Emily Adams has been named to the 2003 Pac-10 All-Academic first team, while Toni Anderson, Bibiana Candelas, Alicia Robinson and April Ross earned honorable mention accolades. Adams, who boasts a 3.67 grade point average as an international relations major, was also named to the Academic All-District VIII first team and was recently selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-American second team. Anderson, a psychology major with a 3.22 GPA, was named an All-District VIII honorable mention pick. This is the first academic honor of the season for Candelas, Robinson and Ross. Candelas is a communications major with a 3.06 overall grade point average, Robinson boasts a 3.22 GPA as a psychology major and Ross is an international relations major with a 3.15 average.

USC Notches 12 Wins Over Ranked Teams
USC faced 12 ranked opponents this season and all of its ranked foes have been ranked among the top 13 (11 of the 12 have been ranked among the top 10). With arguably the nation's toughest schedule, USC defeated No. 2 Hawai'i (Aug. 22), No. 3 Florida (Aug. 21), No. 8 Northern Iowa (Aug. 30), No. 8 Pepperdine (Sept. 3), No. 13 Washington (Oct. 4), No. 7 Stanford (Oct. 17), No. 10 Washington (Oct. 31), No. 9 California (Nov. 15) and No. 8 UCLA (Nov. 21), all by 3-0 scores, and beat No. 9 UCLA (Sept. 19), 3-1, No. 5 California (Oct. 18), 3-2, and No. 7 Stanford (Nov. 14), 3-1.

Losing To The Trojans was A Good Thing?!?!
During the regular season, 10 of USC's 12 ranked opponents found that losing was not necessarily a bad thing. Of the 12 ranked opponents the Women of Troy faced and beat, five teams held on to their rankings the following week (#2 Hawai'i, #3 Florida, #13 Washington on Oct. 4, #7 Stanford on Nov. 14 and #9 cal on Nov. 15) and five teams moved up in the polls (Northern Iowa went from #8 to #6, Pepperdine jumped from #8 to #7, UCLA moved from #9 to #8 on Sept. 19, Stanford went from #7 to #6 on Oct. 17 and UCLA went from #8 to #7 Nov. 21). Cal (#5 to #7), on Oct. 18, and Washington (#10 to #11), on Oct. 4, were the only teams to drop in the rankings following the loss.

Pac-10 Features Six Ranked Teams, All Earn NCAA Bids
Six Pac-10 teams are currently ranked in the top 25 (five are ranked in the top 14) and all six earned NCAA Tournament bids. No. 1 USC, No. 7 UCLA and No. 22 Arizona were placed in the Lincoln, Neb. Regional, No. 5 Stanford and No. 14 Washington were placed in the Long Beach, Calif. Regional and No. 8 California will compete in the Honolulu, Hawai'i Regional.

Outstanding Numbers
As of Nov. 30, the Women of Troy rank second in the nation in attack percentage (.355), third in assists (16.41 apg) and kills per game (17.80 kpg), and fourth in blocks per game (3.23 bpg). Emily Adams (.460) and Bibiana Candelas (.448) rank fourth and sixth, respectively, in attack percentage, Adams ranks 25th in blocks per game (1.43) and April Ross ranks 26th in service aces per outing (0.57).

Head Coach Mick Haley
Mick Haley is in his third season as head coach of the Women of Troy. In 2002, he collected his fifth career national title (three NCAA Division I titles, two JC titles) just two years after arriving at Troy. Haley guided USC to the program's first NCAA championship in more than 20 years and became just the second coach in NCAA history to win a national title at two universities (John Dunning is the other). 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 in 2001. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, he led the U.S. to an unexpected fourth-place finish. Haley coached Texas for 17 seasons (1980-1996) and led the Longhorns to two national championships. He boasts a 858-193-1 (.816) overall record, 608-142 (.811) NCAA Division I record and a 201-13 (.939) career conference mark.

News To Note
* Keao Burdine was named Pac-10 and AVCA National Player of the Week after leading the Women of Troy to a 3-1 win over No. 7 Stanford (11/14) and 3-0 win over No. 9 California (11/15) with a .544 attack percentage, 5.71 kills, 3.86 digs and 0.57 blocks per game.
* Keao Burdine had a career-high 24 kills, 18 digs and 27.5 points against Stanford (11/14).
* Toni Anderson collected a career-high 66 assists against Stanford (11/14).
* Bibiana Candelas set a personal-best with 20 kills, 23.0 points against Stanford (11/14).
* Nicole Davis had a career-high 31 digs against Stanford (11/14).
* Keao Burdine established a career-best with 18 digs at Arizona (11/7).
* April Ross tied a career-high with two solo blocks against Washington State (11/1).
* April Ross was named Pac-10 Player of the Week on Oct. 20 for her performances against Stanford and Cal. She averaged a .383 hitting percentage, 4.75 kills, 3.25 digs and 1.0 blocks per game, in addition to collecting three aces and a total of 45.5 points.
* Toni Anderson set a career-high with 17 digs against Cal (10/18).
* Emily Adams collected a career-high 10 blocks versus Cal (10/18).
* USC again entered the record books with a .545 team attack percentage against Stanford (10/17) - the mark ranks third among program records.
* The Women of Troy accounted for a program record .595 attack percentage against Arizona (10/11) and tied a program record with only three attack errors.
* Bibiana Candelas hit a career-best .917 (11-0-12) against the Wildcats.
* April Ross tied her career record with seven service aces against Arizona State and six of the seven aces were scored consecutively.
* USC hit at a .512 clip against Washington State (10/3) - the fifth-best in program history.
* The Women of Troy held Washington State (10/3) to a .030 attack percentage - the lowest for a USC opponent this season.
* Emily Adams was named Pac-10 Player of the Week after leading the Women of Troy to a 3-1 win over UCLA with a career-high 23 kills, no errors and a .579 attack percentage.
* Staci Venski collected a career-high seven kills and three digs versus Centenary on Sept. 12. The day after she posted a career-high three blocks against SW Missouri State (9/13).
* April Ross served up a career high seven aces against Centenary (9/12).
* Bibiana Candelas posted a career high four aces versus Centenary (9/12) and Florida (8/22).
* It took USC just one hour to defeat Centenary (9/12), USC's shortest match this season.
* USC held Centenary to only six points in the opening game, the lowest opponent point total ever compiled against the Women of Troy in a single 30-point game.
* Emily Adams compiled a career-high .750 hitting mark (15-0-20) against Ball State (8/29).
* Bibiana Candelas had a career-high eight blocks and seven block assists against Pepperdine (9/3).

Opponent Notes

New Hampshire
(23-11, 12-2 for first place in America East Conference)
New Hampshire is making its third-ever and second-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. After finishing the regular season in first place in the America East Conference, the Wildcats defeated Albany and Northeastern in the conference tournament to earn the automatic NCAA berth. The team is led by senior outside hitter and America East Most Outstanding Player Alyson Coler. She leads the team with 4.35 kills and 0.32 aces per game, in addition to ranking second with 3.05 digs per outing. Senior libero Sasha Scott, the America East Defensive Specialist of the Year, averages a team-best 3.89 digs per game and blockers Natasha Otte and Karen Harrington lead with 0.82 and 0.88 blocks per game, respectively. Head coach Jill Hirschinger is in her eighth season with the Wildcat program. Last season, UNH fell 3-1 to Minnesota in the first round of the NCAAs, but became the first America East team to ever win a single postseason game.

USC-UNH Series Record - Friday's match will be the first meeting for these two teams.

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	Bpg
New Hampshire 15.57 .201 13.56 1.78 17.07 1.94
USC 17.80 .355 16.41 1.63 16.13 3.23

No. 15 Loyola Marymount
(25-6, 10-4 for third place in West Coast Conference)

Loyola Marymount, under the leadership of 14th-year head coach Steve Stratos, is making its seventh NCAA appearance in the last 10 years, but its first since 2000 (LMU fell to Stanford in the first round that season). The team completed the regular season with a 25-6 overall record and is ranked 15th in the most recent AVCA coaches' poll. The Lions went 10-4 in conference play this season for a third-place finish, behind Pepperdine and Santa Clara (the WCC got a conference record six teams into the NCAA Tournament this season). Senior Kealani Kimball and junior Kelli Nerison were named to the all-conference first team. Kimbell, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter, has led the team with 4.23 kills, 0.28 service aces and 3.49 digs per game. Nerison, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker, has guided the team with 1.45 blocks per game. Setter Nicole Oehlman averages 11.65 assists and libero Courtney Leonard averages 3.14 digs per game. Among LMU's notable wins this season, the Lions upset then-ranked UC Santa Barbara at the start of the season.

USC-LMU Series Record - USC and LMU have faced each other a total of five times with the Trojans sweeping each meeting. The last time the two teams met was at the Long Beach Invitational in 1994. The teams have never met in the postseason.

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	Bpg
Loyola Marymount 15.18 .268 13.33 1.50 15.42 3.03
USC 17.80 .355 16.41 1.63 16.13 3.23

Cal State Northridge
(16-12, 12-6 for second place tie in Big West Conference)

Under second-year head coach Jeff Stork, Cal State Northridge earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996. The team wrapped up conference play with a 12-6 Big West record to tie UC Irvine and Long Beach State for second place. CSUN also faced USC in its final regular season match and took a game off the Women of Troy in a 3-1 loss at Northridge. The team is led by middle blocker Jennifer Fopma, who is averaging 5.40 kills and 1.27 blocks per game. Setter Nadine Nickel leads the team with 12.45 assists per game, in addition to boasting a team-best .349 attack percentage with 1.34 kills per game and a team-best 3.08 digs per game. Fopma was the only CSUN player to earn All-Big West first team honors. Nickel, along with outside hitter Jennifer Ryan, was honored as an all-conference honorable mention pick. During the season, the Matadors recorded upset victories over a ranked UC Santa Barbara squad on Oct. 4 and Pacific on Oct. 18.

USC-CSUN Series Record - USC is 21-1 (.955) all-time against CS Northridge, which includes a 3-1 victory at CSUN last week in the final week of regular season play. The only match the Trojans have lost was a 2-1 defeat to the Matadors at the Titan Invitational in Fullerton, Calif., in 1983. The teams have twice met in the postseason, including the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 1992.

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	Bpg
Cal State Northridge 15.92 .224 14.60 1.65 16.60 2.34
USC 17.80 .355 16.41 1.63 16.13 3.23
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