Volleyball To Compete For Third-Straight Title This Week

Dec. 14, 2004

2004 Updated NCAA Bracket
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2004 NCAA Championships - Long Beach Arena

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NCAA Semifinal - Thursday, Dec. 16
5:30 p.m. - #11 Stanford vs. #7 Washington
TV: Tape delay broadcast on ESPN2 at 8 p.m.

7:30 p.m. - #8 USC vs. #4 Minnesota
TV: Tape delay broadcast on ESPN2 on Friday, Dec. 17, at 1 p.m.
AUDIO: www.usctrojans.com
LIVE STATS: www.usctrojans.com

NCAA Scoreboard

NCAA Final - Saturday, Dec. 18
1 p.m. - Winners of each semifinal
TV: ESPN2 Live
LIVE STATS: www.usctrojans.com
If USC advances...
AUDIO: www.usctrojans.com

The Facts
The eighth-seeded USC women's volleyball team (23-5, 14-4 Pac-10) - the back-to-back defending national champion - is making its fourth appearance in the last five years in the NCAA Final Four and will face fourth-seeded Minnesota (32-4) in the semifinals on Thursday, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Long Beach (Calif.) Arena. The match-up with the Golden Gophers will be the second of 2004 and a rematch of last year's NCAA Semifinals. If USC advances, the Women of Troy will vie for a third-straight NCAA Championship on Saturday, Dec. 18, at 1 p.m. and will face the winner of Thursday's Stanford/Washington semifinal match-up.

Led by fourth-year head coach Mick Haley, the Women of Troy defeated College of Charleston, 3-0, and No. 23 Kansas State, 3-0, in the first two rounds, then got past No. 11 San Diego, 3-1, and No. 1 Nebraska, 3-2, in the NCAA Regionals to reach the Final Four in Long Beach. This is USC's 14th consecutive bid to the NCAA Tournament and its 22nd overall appearance. The Women of Troy boast six national championships and three NCAA titles.

NCAA Regional Final Recap
In a match that lasted nearly three hours, USC upset top-seeded Nebraska in a thrilling five games (33-35, 30-27, 30-21, 34-36, 15-12) on Dec. 11 in Louisville. The Women of Troy were led by tournament MVP Keao Burdine, who finished with 30 kills and 30 digs. It was a battle from the start, as the two teams reached 21 tie scores and making 12 lead changes just in game one. At 33-33 Nebraska notched a kill and took advantage of a USC hitting error to finish the set 35-33. The second game featured very little in the way of runs or momentum swings. The teams battled back and forth until the Trojans eventually broke away by scoring four of the game's last five points to win 30-27. After the break, the Women of Troy jumped out to an early lead in game three. It proved to be the only lopsided game of the night as the Trojans led by as much as nine points before taking the game 30-21. USC trailed by as much as six points at the start of game four, then climbed back to reach a 26-26 tie. USC had four shots at match-point, but allowed Nebraska to take the lead at 34-33 and eventually earn the game win 36-34. USC scored the first five-of-six points in the deciding game. The Huskers recovered to knot the score at 11 and 12, but made critical errors down the stretch. With two service errors in the following three rotations, Nebraska gave USC the breathing room it need. Ahead 13-12, the Women of Troy took the final set on a block and a kill on a Husker overpass.

The Trojans had four players named to the all-tournament team, including Burdine (MVP), Bibiana Candelas, Staci Venski and libero Debora Seilhamer.

NCAA Regional Semifinal Recap
Bibiana Candelas led with 16 kills and six blocks as USC defeated 11th-ranked and ninth-seeded San Diego, 30-26, 30-20, 25-30, 30-20, in an NCAA Regional Semifinal match in Louisville on Dec. 10. The Trojans used a 9-1 run to build a nine point lead at the start of game one. San Diego slowly chipped away and managed to come within one at 21-20 and 25-24 using short runs its own, but the Women of Troy hung on to take the first set 30-26. In similar fashion, the Trojans quickly pulled ahead to start game two then distanced themselves with a 9-0 run en route to 30-20 win. Ensuring that the match was not over, San Diego returned from the break to gain its first lead of the night at 11-10 in game three. Scoring three and four points at a time, the Toreros garnered the win 30-25. Though the teams started off close in the final set, the Women of Troy eventually regained control. Thanks to back-to-back solo blocks by Keao Burdine which sparked a 5-0 USC run, the Trojans led by as much as 13 points on three occasions. USC clinched the final win, 30-20.

NCAA Second Round Recap
Thanks to dominating offensive attack featuring four players who hit above .500, USC beat No. 23 Kansas State, 3-0 (30-19, 30-25, 30-19), in the NCAA Second Round on Dec. 3. The Women of Troy's powerful offense was guided by Keao Burdine. Burdine collected 19 kills and made only three errors in the match for a .533 attack percentage. Alicia Robinson and Emily Adams added 11 kills apiece and hit .588 and 500, respectively. Bibiana Candelas was the fourth to notch an above-.500 effort with seven kills and no errors for a .538 mark. The Women of Troy held Kansas State to a .178 attack effort in the sweep. USC seemed to be in trouble at the very start of the match as Kansas State kicked things off with consecutive service aces and forced a USC attack error for a quick 3-0 lead. The Wildcats pushed their lead to 6-2 before the Trojans began to fight back. After three tie scores, USC took its first lead at 9-8 and never turned back. The Women of Troy never trailed for the remainder of the match.

NCAA First Round Recap
Behind 16 kills from Bibiana Candelas, USC defeated College of Charleston, 3-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 2. The Trojans took care of the visiting Cougars 30-22, 30-24, 30-23. USC got help from all three of its 2004 All-Pac-10 first team picks. Candelas led in kills on a .438 attack effort and contributed 18.5 points. Keao Burdine posted a double-double with 11 kills and 17 digs, in addition to a match-best four blocks. Emily Adams also added 11 kills and committed only one error for a .667 attack percentage.College of Charleston challenged the Women of Troy defensively throughout the match, out-digging the Trojans 63-to-60. USC won the battle at the night with 56 kills and 10 blocks to Cougars' 39 kills and nine team blocks.

USC History In The NCAAs
The Women of Troy are making their 14th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and their 22nd 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 49-18 (.731) all-time NCAA tournament record, USC has won three NCAA national championships (including the last two seasons) and advanced to the Final Four on six occasions (including the last three of four seasons).

It was a perfect ending to a perfect season for the Women of Troy who captured their second-consecutive title with an undefeated 35-0 record in 2003. 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 (streak ended at 52 matches on Sept. 4, 2004). USC's efforts were led by April Ross (Honda Award Winner, All-America, Pac-10 Player of the Year) and All-America picks Emily Adams, Bibiana Candelas and Keao Burdine (second team). Burdine was named NCAA Championship MVP for the second-straight year.

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.

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.

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

Long Beach Notes & Connections
• Starting setter Alli Dillon prepped at Long Beach Wilson High where she led her squads to two CIF Division I Southern Section Championships (2001, 2002) and the 2002 CIF Division I finals.
• Dillon's father, Dale Dillon, played collegiate basketball at Long Beach State (1974-77).
• Fifth-year assistant coach Rob Machan has many ties to Long Beach. He has over 17 years of experience coaching volleyball in the Long Beach area and founded the Long Beach Volleyball Club in 1986, as well as the city's Power/Asics Nova Volleyball Club in 1995. He also spent two year's as the girl's coach at Wilson High (1998-99). Machan attended both Long Beach State and Long Beach City College.
• USC is 35-14 (.714) when playing in Long Beach (includes a 27-10 record against LBSU).

Adams, Burdine, Candelas Earn All-Region Honors
Emily Adams and Keao Burdine were named to 2004 AVCA All-Pacific Region first team on Dec. 8. Bibiana Candelas earned honorable mention honors. This is the third first-team selection for Adams and the second for Burdine. Candelas was a first team pick in 2003. All three players went on to earn All-America honors last season.

Pac-10 Boasts Six Ranked Teams, All Earn NCAA Bids, Three Advance To Regionals
Six Pac-10 teams were ranked among the top 25 in the final regular season poll (tied for the most among any other conference) and all six teams earned NCAA bids (second-most among conferences), including No. 5 Washington, No. 6 Stanford, No. 8 USC, No. 13 UCLA, No. 17 California and No. 21 Arizona. The Big 12 also boasts five ranked teams and the Big Ten Conferences is next on the list with four. Both the Big 12 and Big 10 garnered seven NCAA selections.

Of the six teams, three advanced to this week's NCAA Semifinals and Final. The Pac-10 boasts three-fourths of the Final Four field for the second time on conference history. The feat also occurred in 1985 when Stanford, UCLA and USC competed for the title.

Team News N' Notes
• The Trojans are riding a 16-match postseason win streak.
• USC is 23-2 over the last five years in the NCAA Tournament , including four trips to the Final Four and two championships.
• USC is the only team to have faced all three Final Four opponents this season, having defeated Minnesota at the NACWAA Volleyball Classic and split with conference opponents Washington and Stanford.

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.


Minnesota (No. 4 Seed)
(32-4, 17-3 for second place tie in Big Ten Conference)
Minnesota advances to the Final Four for the second-straight season and is currently riding an 11-match win streak. The Golden Gophers defeated Long Island, 3-0, and Yale, 3-0, in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, then got past No. 20 Georgia Tech, 3-2, and No. 7 Ohio State, 3-2, at last week's regional in Minneapolis. The team is led by AVCA All-Mideast Region first team picks setter/outside hitter Kelly Bowman, libero Paula Gentil and outside hitter Erin Martin. Bowman is one of two setters on the team, averaging 6.93 assists, 2.36 kills and 3.09 digs per game. Gentil, a returning All-American, is averaging 6.69 digs per outing and Martin contributes a team-best 5.03 kills and 5.60 points per game. The team is led by ninth-year head coach Mike Hebert.

USC-Minnesota Series Record
Thursday's match will mark the fifth all-time meeting between these two teams, and the second of 2004. It is also a rematch of last-year's NCAA Championship semifinal. The series stands at 2-1-1 (.500) after the Women of Troy defeated the Golden Gophers, 3-2, at the NACWAA Volleyball Classic in Fort Collins, Colo., on Aug. 28, and won last season's match-up, 3-0, in Dallas, Texas, on Dec. 18, 2003, en route to the national championship. 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.).

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	BpgMinnesota		17.71	.266	16.48	1.25	19.98	2.63USC			1735	.287	16.04	1.03	17.85	2.92

Washington (No. 7 Seed)
(28-2, 16-2 for first place in Pac-10 Conference)

The Huskies are making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Final Four in a record-setting year. Boasting the program's best record and first-ever Pac-10 title, this year's Washington squad did not lose a match until Nov. 18 and Nov. 26 when the Huskies fell to Stanford and USC. UW defeated Idaho, 3-0, and Kansas, 3-2, in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, then beat Saint Mary's, 3-0, and conference rival UCLA, 3-2, at last week's regional in Seattle. The team is led by AVCA All-Pacific Region picks libero Candace Lee, outside hitter Christal Morrison and setter Courtney Thompson. Lee leads the team with 5.85 digs per game and Thompson has guided the Huskies with 14.66 assists per outing. Morrison averages 4.21 kills, 2.66 digs and 0.75 blocks per game, but more importantly, stepped up for the team when it lost returning All-American Sanja Tomasevic midseason. The team is led by third-year head coach Jim McLaughlin.

USC-Washington Series Record
As Pac-10 opponents, USC owns a 31-10 (.756) all-time record against Washington. This season, the Women of Troy split with the Huskies, falling 3-2 in Los Angeles (to end a 12-match win streak against the Dawgs), then winning 3-2 in Seattle. USC and Washington have never faced each other in the postseason.

USC-Washington Common Connections
• Third-year Washington head coach Jim McLaughlin is a former USC men's volleyball coach. McLaughlin coached the Trojans from 1990 through 1996 and accumulated a 142-75 (.654) overall record. He led USC to its fourth NCAA title in 1990 and a NCAA runner-up finish in 1991.
• The Huskies boast two California players on their roster - junior Erin Lui (Brentwood) and junior Jessica Veris (Manhattan Beach).
• Washington junior Danka Danicic and USC junior Nena Siljegovic are both natives of Serbia of the former Yugoslavia. Washington senior Sanja Tomasevic hails from Montenegro, also of the former Yugoslavia.

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	BpgWashington		17.19	.286	16.00	1.54	18.48	2.71USC			1735	.287	16.04	1.03	17.85	2.92

Stanford (No. 11 Seed)
(28-6, 15-3 for second place in Pac-10 Conference)

Stanford enters the Final Four riding a 13-match win streak. The Cardinal, one of only four schools to have competed in all 24 NCAA Tournaments, defeated Jacksonville, 3-0, and No. 13 Florida, 3-2, in the first two rounds of this season's tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. The Cardinal got past No. 10 Texas, 3-0, and No. 22 Wisconsin, 3-0, at last week's regional in Green Bay, Wisc., to get to Long Beach. The team is led by AVCA All-Pacific Region pick and three-time All-American outside hitter Ogonna Nnamani. Nnamani averages a team-best 6.04 kills per game with a .344 attack percentage. She also contributes 2.25 digs, 0.67 blocks and 6.75 points per game. Head coach John Dunning is in his fourth season on The Farm.

USC-Stanford Series Record
The Women of Troy have won eight of the last 11 meetings against the Cardinal, but split this season with a 3-1 victory at home and a 3-0 loss on the road. Stanford is one of only six programs that own a winning record (43-19-1, .694) against the Women of Troy. Between the 1984 and 2000 seasons, the Women of Troy managed to only win three matches against the Cardinal, but have since started to make up for lost time.

USC and Stanford have met 11 times in postseason play, with the Cardinal winning nine of the meetings. The last match-up took place in 2002 when the Women of Troy defeated Stanford, 3-1, in New Orleans to win their first of two-straight national titles. USC's only other postseason victory against the Cardinal was also its first. In 1980, USC beat Stanford 3-1 in the WAIAW Regional. Ironically, the Trojans also went on to win the national title that season.

USC-Stanford Common Connections
• Freshman setter Bryn Kahoe was a prep teammate of USC freshman Sarah Florian at St. Ursula's Academy in Toledo, Ohio.
• Stanford junior outside hitter Courtney Schultz was a prep teammate of USC redshirt freshman setter Alex Dunphy at Harvard-Westlake High in North Hollywood, Calif.

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	BpgStanford		16.10	.291	15.06	1.22	15.65	3.33USC			1735	.287	16.04	1.03	17.85	2.92
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