Volleyball Opens 2004 At NACWAA Tourney

Aug. 24, 2004

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NACWAA Volleyball Classic - Fort Collins, Colo.

Friday, Aug. 27 - #1 USC vs. #12 Georgia Tech
Listen live at www.wrek.org

Saturday, Aug. 28 - Consolation/Championship Match
Listen live at www.gophersports.com or www.kcsufm.com.

The Facts
Coming off back-to-back NCAA and Pac-10 Championships (the program's sixth national and conference titles), the top-ranked USC women's volleyball team opens the 2004 season this week at the NACWAA (National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators) Volleyball Classic in Fort Collins, Colo. This is USC's third all-time and second consecutive appearance in the premier preseason event after winning the tournament last season. The two-day tournament features two of last year's Final Four teams (No. 5 Minnesota and USC) and four teams all ranked in the preseason top 15. In the opener, the Women of Troy face No. 12 Georgia Tech on Friday, Aug. 27, at 5 p.m. MT, followed by a match-up between No. 5 Minnesota and host No. 11 Colorado State. A consolation match will take place on Saturday, Aug. 28, at 5 p.m. MT, followed by the championship match at 7:30 p.m. MT. All matches to be played at CSU's Moby Arena.Audio broadcasts of the matches can be heard at the Georgia Tech (www.wrek.org), Colorado State (www.kcsufm.com) and Minnesota (www.gophersports.com) websites.USC returns eight letterwinners and three starters from last year's Pac-10 and NCAA Championship squad. The team also welcomes eight newcomers, including four Volleyball magazine Fab 50 selections (Katelyn Bishop, Diane Copenhagen, Sarah Florian and Jessica Gysin). Head coach Mick Haley, the 2003 AVCA Division I National Coach of the Year, enters his fourth season at the helm of the Women of Troy program.The Rankings
USC pulled in 56 of the possible 65 first-place votes to out-distance No. 2 Nebraska and earn the top ranking in the USA Today/CSTV AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll. USC also entered last season at No. 1. The Volleyball magazine preseason poll will be released on Aug. 30.Sitting At The Top
USC has spent 22-straight weeks ranked No. 1 in the AVCA poll. The Trojans have spent 48 weeks ranked in the top 5 and 66 weeks ranked in the top 10 (dating back to the start of the 2000 season).Team Co-Captains
This year's team co-captains, as voted on by the players, are seniors Emily Adams and Alicia Robinson. The is the first year Robinson has held the role and the second-consecutive year for Adams.2003 Recap
It was a perfect ending to a perfect season as the 2003 Women of Troy captured their second-consecutive title (sixth overall) with an undefeated 35-0 record. USC became the first team to ever repeat without defeat and, en route, set an NCAA record by winning 47 consecutive matches dating back to Nov. 2, 2002. Led by five seniors, the Women of Troy went 18-0 in Pac-10 play for their third conference title in the last four years. The Trojans were pushed past three games a mere six times during the season, and only once were they pushed to a fifth (at Cal on Oct. 18). USC's efforts were led by April Ross (Honda Award Winner, All-America, Pac-10 Player of the Year), Emily Adams (All-America, All-Pac-10), Bibiana Candelas (All-America, All-Pac-10) and Keao Burdine (All-America, All-Pac-10). Burdine was named NCAA Championship MVP for the second-straight year.Chasing History
After capturing back-to-back national titles in 2002 and 2003, this year's USC women's volleyball squad is looking to do what no other team has done - win a third straight. There have been seven repeat champions in the history of collegiate women's volleyball (USC 1976-77, USC 1980-81, Hawai'i 1982-83, Pacific 1985-86, UCLA 1990-91, Stanford 1996-97, USC 2002-03), but no one has claimed the three-peat.Charting the Streaks
USC has won its last 47 consecutive matches** (dating back to 11/2/02 when they lost 3-2 to Stanford at home), 20 consecutive home matches and 44 consecutive road matches. The Trojans have not dropped a match on the road since the 2001 season (a 3-1 loss at Stanford, 11/10/01).**The 47 straight wins is an NCAA record, but not a USC record. The Women of Troy won 56 straight matches from Nov. 27, 1976, through Sept. 27, 1978, as a part of the AIAW.The Advantage of Height
The 2004 squad boasts one of the tallest lineups of hitters and blockers across the country, but they fall a half inch shorter than the 2002 and 2003 USC team average. The Trojans' hitters and blockers average 6-foot-2-and-a-half. As a team USC stands just over 6-0.Injury Report
Freshman outside hitter Jessica Gysin suffered a severe sprained left ankle in the first week of training camp. She will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks.Twin Towers Return
Two of the most dominating players in Division I volleyball are back for another season. At 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-5, senior middle blocker Emily Adams (Phoenix, Ariz.) and junior middle blocker Bibiana Candelas (Torreón, Mexico) return to the net for the Women of Troy. These two players, the tallest duo at the net in Division I, each earned AVCA All-American first team accolades in 2003. Adams and Candelas led the nation with .431 and .434 attack percentages, respectively, in addition to ranking among the nation's top five with 1.39 and 1.24 blocks apiece. Adams contributed 3.36 kills per game, while Candelas added an average of 3.05.Burdine Deserves A Closer Look
Every coach across the country knows her name, but she has never been named to a All-America first team. She has been the driving force behind USC's last two championship efforts, but she only has one all-region first team selection to her name. This is senior outside hitter Keao Burdine (Pico Rivera, Calif.) - the only player to ever be named the sole NCAA Championship MVP twice. She has been one player on a team of all-stars, but you'll never hear her complain. After all, she has two NCAA championships to her name.A Tale Of Five Setters
Thanks to the addition of two transfer players, USC will not lack depth at the setting position this season. In addition to sophomore Kimi Freeburg, redshirt freshman Alex Dunphy and walk-on freshman setter/opposite hitter Kathleen Gilmour (who may likely redshirt this season), the Women of Troy welcome 5-foot-10 Nena Siljegovic of Simi Valley, Calif., and 5-foot-7 Alli Dillon of Long Beach, Calif. Siljegovic is a junior transfer from Moorpark (Calif.) Community College, while Dillon enters her sophomore year after spending the 2003 season at San Jose State. What would be a problem for most teams is not for the Trojans, whose 6-2 offense allows the team to utilize the talent of at least two setters.A Story Worth Reading About
Junior transfer Nena Siljegovic's background is unlike many collegiate student-athletes. Though she spent the last two years playing at Moorpark Community College (where she was named the AVCA's 2003 Two-Year College Player of the Year) and the previous two years at Royal High in Simi Valley, Calif., that's where the similarities end. Siljegovic is a native of the former Yugoslavia. She and her family were forced to leave their country in 2000 due to the deteriorating economy and ever-present danger that took place during the break-up of Yugoslavia.Flashback to 2000
The freshmen of 2004 have drawn many comparisons to the freshmen of 2000 (April Ross, Katie Olsovsky, Toni Anderson, Nicole Davis), who completed their USC careers last season. Even though the Women of Troy may have lost one of the best classes in program history, the coaching staff did a pretty good job in finding comparable replacements. Considered by most as the No. 1 recruiting class in the country (USC's third in the last five years), this set of newcomers includes four Volleyball magazine Fab 50 selections, including 6-foot-2 middle blocker Katelyn Bishop (Terre Haute, Ind.), 6-foot-2 middle blocker/opposite hitter Diane Copenhagen (Mountain View, Calif.) and a pair of 6-foot-1 outside hitters Sarah Florian (Toledo, Ohio) and Jessica Gysin (Mountain View, Calif.).A True Trojan Family
Freshman setter/opposite hitter Kathleen Gilmour (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) comes from a long line of Trojans - a list that far exceeds that of just former Trojan athletes. The Gilmours, including brothers J.T., who plays on the USC men's volleyball team, and Marcus, who was on the USC team, keep a detailed list of their own Trojan family history that includes 40 family members who have all attended USC. The lists dates back to Kathleen's great-great grandfather, Andrew Morrow ('23), and the first USC relative, her great-great uncle, Charles Morrow ('21).Head Coach Mick Haley
Just when it seemed like he had accomplished it all throughout his 27-year career, USC head coach Mick Haley found a way to top it. In just his third season at the helm of the USC women's volleyball program, Haley led the Women of Troy to a second-consecutive NCAA Championship - the program's sixth title overall and third NCAA title. In 2003 Haley, 61, guided the nation's most talented team to a perfect 35-0 record (only the fourth team to ever accomplish the feat) and an NCAA record 47 consecutive victories, dating back to the 2002 season. For these accomplishments, he earned the most prestigious honor among collegiate coaches and something that had eluded him in previous years of his collegiate coaching career - he was honored as the 2003 AVCA Division I Coach of the Year.In three short years, Haley has made certain that a new era has truly been established at USC. Haley now embarks on his fourth year at Troy and a pursuit for a seventh national title and an unprecedented third straight.As a two-time national championship head coach at Texas and four-year United States National Team coach (who led the USA to an unexpected fourth-place finish at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney), Haley took the helm of the Trojan program at the start of the 2001 season. He brought with him a tradition of excellence as one of the elite coaches in the game to a University with a rich tradition of its own.In his 27 years as a collegiate head coach, Haley boasts a 864-193-1 (.817) career record and a 613-142 (.812) mark in 20 years at the Division I level. He ranks sixth among the NCAA's winningest active coaches according to win percentage (.812) and eighth among all active coaches by victories (613). Most impressive is Haley's dominant history against conference opponents. He owns a 201-13 (.939) career record against conference opponents while competing in the Southwest, Big 12 and Pac-10 conferences. After winning the Pac-10 title the last two seasons, he now boasts 16 career conference titles.

Opponent Notes#12 Georgia Tech -- Georgia Tech is coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history. Last season, the Yellow Jackets finished with a 34-4 overall record, a 15-1 record in the ACC, advanced to the NCAA Regional Final and earned a No. 8 final ranking. Under third-year head coach Bond Shymansky, Georgia Tech returns 10 letterwinners and six starters from last year's squad, including 2003 third team AVCA All-American outside hitter Lynette Moster.USC-Georgia Tech Series Record -- Friday's match will mark the first meeting between the two schools.USC-Georgia Tech Common Connections
• Georgia Tech has two players who hail from California - senior libero Marisa Aston (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and junior outside hitter Jennifer Randall (Long Beach, Calif.). Randall and USC setter Alli Dillon both played for Long Beach's Cal Juniors Volleyball Club.
• Georgia Tech outside hitter Lynette Moster and USC setter Kimi Freeburg both played for Indiana's Munciana Volleyball Club.#5 Minnesota -- Like Georgia Tech, Minnesota also enjoyed the greatest season in Golden Gopher history in 2003. Last year's squad advanced to the NCAA Semifinal (falling 3-0 to USC), completed the year with a 26-11 overall record, posted a 15-5 mark in the Big Ten and earned a No. 4 final ranking. Minnesota returns 11 letterwinners and five starters this season under ninth-year head coach Mike Hebert. The 2004 squad will be lead by returning second team All-American libero Paula Gentil.USC-Minnesota Series Record -- If the two teams meet on Saturday, it will mark the fourth all-time meeting. The series stands at 1-1-1 (.500) after the Women of Troy defeated the Golden Gophers, 3-0, in the NCAA Semifinals last year in Dallas, Texas. The first-ever meeting ended in a 1-1 tie in 1979, and the second match-up was won by Minnesota, 3-2, in the second round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament.USC-Minnesota Common Connections
• Minnesota has two players who hail from California - senior outside hitter Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) and sophomore middle blocker Athena Mallakis (Simi Valley, Calif.).#11 Colorado State -- Colorado State has its sights set high this season after losing only one starter from last year's squad. The Rams advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinal in 2003, finished the year with a 30-5 overall record, won the Mountain West Conference with a 14-0 mark and earned a final No. 14 ranking. Eighth-year head coach Tom Hilbert returns 10 total letterwinners and six starters, including setter Melissa Courtney, last season's Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Year.USC-Colorado State Series Record -- USC owns a 6-3 all-time record against Colorado State. All nine meetings were played in the 80s, with the last two taking place in 1988. That season, USC won an early meeting in Fort Collins, 3-1, then fell to the Rams, 3-0, at the Pacific-10 Challenge held in Westwood in October.USC-Colorado State Common Connections
• Colorado State assistant coach Karrie (Downey) Larson played for USC head coach Mick Haley as a member of the U.S.A. National Team in 1997 and 1998.
• CSU has one player who hails from California - senior setter Melissa Courtney (Lakewood, Calif.).