USC Begins 2005 NCAA Tournament Play This Weekend

Nov. 30, 2005

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The Facts
The USC women's volleyball team (16-10) -- winners of six national championships -- will host first and second round action in the 2005 NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament on Friday (Dec. 2) and Saturday (Dec. 3) at the Lyon Center. Pepperdine (17-11) will face BYU (25-3) on Friday at 5 p.m. while USC will take on UC Santa Barbara (21-8) at 7 p.m. The winners of both matches will play a second-round match on Saturday at 8 p.m. Any match featuring USC will be broadcast live on

All-tournament passes are $15 for adults and $6 for children, students and seniors over 60. Single-day passes are $8 for adults and $6 for children, students and seniors over 60 and will be available beginning on Friday at the Lyon Center. All-tournament passes until Friday afternoon can be purchased through the USC ticket office at (213) 740-4672 (GO SC).

USC is making its 15th straight postseason appearance with a chance to play in a school-record fourth consecutive NCAA Final Four. The Women of Troy have advanced to the regional final the past five years and won back-to-back national championships in 2002 and 2003. USC is 94-25 (.790) overall in the postseason and 49-19 (.721) in NCAA play.

USC is ranked No. 12 in the nation by the AVCA/CSTV poll while BYU is ranked No. 22. UC Santa Barbara and Pepperdine are not ranked, but both schools received votes in the AVCA/CSTV poll.

No. 22 BYU Notes
BYU finished the regular season with a 25-3 record. Jason Watson is in his first season as head coach for the Cougars. BYU is making its 22nd postseason appearance. Sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Goodman has a 4.26 kills per game average to go with a 2.62 digs per game clip. The Cougars won the 2005 Mountain West Conference regular season championship. USC leads the all-time series with BYU by a 9-5 margin with the last meeting taking place in 2002 as the Women of Troy earned a 3-0 win. USC is 4-1 in the postseason against BYU.

Pepperdine Notes
Pepperdine finished the regular season with a 17-11 record and a 10-4 record in West Coast Conference play. Head coach Nina Matthies is 438-262 in her 23rd season at Pepperdine. Junior middle blocker Sophia Milo leads the team with a .349 hitting percentage and 1.41 blocks per game while freshman outside hitter Julie Rubenstein has 4.08 kills per game. USC is 33-7 in the all-time series against Pepperdine and 4-1 in postseason play.

UC Santa Barbara Notes
UC Santa Barbara finished the regular season with a 21-8 record and 12-2 mark in the Big West Conference. Head coach Kathy Gregory is 765-315 in her 31st season at UCSB. Junior outside hitter Janine Sandell led the Big West with a 5.26 kills per game average and has 552 kills this season. USC is 26-9 all-time against UC Santa Barbara and 4-0 in postseason play.

Opponent Comparisons	Kpg	Pct.	Apg	SApg	Dpg	BpgUSC			16.14	.240	14.80	1.02	18.80	2.71BYU			16.10	.276	14.57	1.33	14.14	2.67Pepperdine		15.90	.240	14.49	1.04	15.57	3.29UC Santa Barbara	15.63	.210	14.14	1.83	16.70	2.46 

Last Week
Last week at home, USC concluded the regular season with a 3-0 sweep against No. 12 California and a 3-2 loss to No. 5 Stanford.

Bibiana Candelas had 21 kills to lead the Women of Troy against Cal, hitting .467 on the night without an attacking error (21-0-45). Diane Copenhagen hit .467 as well with seven kills and adding 16 digs.

In a five-game battle against the Cardinal, Candelas and Venski set career marks in kills with 36 and 26, respectively. Debora Seilhamer chipped in 28 digs.

Running With The Pac(k)
USC used a 12-6 record to finish in fourth place this year in the Pac-10 Conference behind Washington, Stanford and Arizona...Debora Seilhamer leads the Pac-10 Conference with a 6.73 digs per game average (second in the nation)...Bibiana Candelas is second in the conference with a 4.91 kills per game average...Staci Venski is fifth with a 4.36 kills per game average...Candelas is second with a 5.58 points per game average...Venski is sixth with 4.86 points per game...Nena Siljegovic is fifth with 11.92 assists per game...Candelas is eighth with a .312 hitting percentage.

An Honor to Know You
Debora Seilhamer, Bibiana Candelas and Staci Venski earned 2005 All-Pac-10 first team recognition while Kelli Tennant was named to the All-Freshman Team. Candelas has three straight first team honors to her credit. This was the first time that Seilhamer and Venski received All-Pac-10 first team honors. Last year, Seilhamer earned honorable mention recognition.

This is the fifth straight year that at least three players have earned first team honors. Since 1980, a total of 82 USC players have earned conference honors.

A New Home
This will be USC's final year at the Lyon Center before the Women of Troy move to the brand-new Galen Center for the 2006 season. The 10,260-seat arena is being built on the corner of Figueroa St. and Jefferson Blvd., adjacent to the USC campus. The arena is named after Lou and Helene Galen, who generously donated $35 million towards the project that will house the USC men's and women's volleyball and basketball programs.

Mick Haley earned his 900th win in his collegiate career as a head coach on Nov. 4 at Oregon State. His 29-year career includes seven years at Kellogg Community College in Michigan (1973-79), 17 years at Texas (1980-96) and five years at USC (2000-Present). He also served as head coach for the U.S. Women's National Team from 1997-2000, including the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

The Power of the Pac-10
Six Pac-10 teams were ranked among the top 25 in the 2005 CSTV/AVCA current poll (the most among any other conference), including No. 3 Washington, No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Arizona, No. 12 USC, No. 14 UCLA and No. 16 California.

Strength Of Schedule
USC has played another difficult schedule based on teams ranked in the CSTV/AVCA preseason poll, including four of the nation's top five teams: No. 2 Washington, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Hawai'i and No. 5 Penn State. Six other Top 25 teams are also on the schedule: No. 8 Florida, No. 13 UCLA, No. 16 Texas A&M, No. 17 Arizona, No. 19 California and No. 25 Pepperdine. Notre Dame, which entered the Top 25 rankings during the season, also was on this year's schedule.

In USC's 26 matches during the regular season, 15 opponents were ranked in the Top 25 with USC posting a 5-10 mark.

'Seil' The Deal
Junior libero Debora Seilhamer (Ponce, Puerto Rico/ Colegio Ponceño) served as a freshman backup to former standout libero Nicole Davis and now has established herself as one the nation's top liberos. Seilhamer has 639 digs this season for a 6.73 per-game average. Her 1,293 career digs places her sixth on USC's all-time list and her 4.57 dpg career average is the best in school history (Katie Haller, 1990-93, had the previous record at 4.01 dpg).

She leads the Pac-10 Conference in digs per game and is second in the nation. She had a 7.14 dpg average in Pac-10 Conference matches and in her last 11 matches, Seilhamer has a 7.45 dpg average (314 digs in 42 games).

She set a school record for most digs in a four-game match with 39 on Nov. 19 at Arizona State, surpassing a record she tied earlier this season (Sept. 9 against Notre Dame) with 36

On Oct. 28 against UCLA, she had 33 digs in a four-game win against the Bruins and did not have a serve receiving error in 31 attempts against her.

She earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors after recording 57 digs in two matches (8.14 dpg average) on Oct. 21 and 22 against Arizona State and No. 8 Arizona. With 27 digs against ASU, she set a school record for most digs in a three-game match and, in the process, recorded her 1,000th career dig. She was perfect in 21 serving attempts against Arizona and did not record a reception error. On Nov. 12 against Washington State, Seilhamer set a new three-game school record with 29 digs against the Cougars.

She tied the school record on Sept. 9 against No. 19 Notre Dame for most digs (36) in a four-game match, tying a mark held by Megan McAllister (10/21/89) and Katie Haller (10/24/92). Seilhamer had 82 digs in three matches against Top 25 teams (Notre Dame, No. 6 Florida and No. 13 Texas A&M) at the UTSA Dome Rally (Sept. 9-11) and was named to the all-tournament team.

Last season, she set a USC single season record with 571 digs on the season and averaged a school-record 5.39 digs per game, which ranked her third in the Pac-10 Conference. Seilhamer earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention and set a USC record (and five-game record) with 45 digs in the match on Nov. 12 against UCLA.

Fire Woman
Senior middle blocker Bibiana Candelas (Torreòn, Mexico/Colegio Ponceño) is a two-time All-American for the Women of Troy. This season, Candelas has a team-high 4.91 kills-per-game average with a .312 hitting percentage.

Candelas has hit a blistering .450 in her last three matches with a 7.67 kills per game average (at Arizona, vs. No. 12 California and vs. No. 5 Stanford).

She tallied 19 kills on Sept. 2 against Western Michigan and earned All-Tournament honors at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic with 45 kills in three matches. On Sept. 11 in a four-game win over No. 13 Texas A&M, she tied a previous career high with 20 kills. She added a new career high with 23 kills on Sept. 16 in a 3-0 sweep against Pepperdine.

On Sept. 30, she set new career highs with 26 kills and 31.5 points in a 3-1 victory at UCLA. For her efforts, she was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for the first time in her career. She had another 26-kill performance on Nov. 4 at Oregon State in USC's 3-1 win.

She surpassed her career highs on Nov. 19 at Arizona State when she registered 35 kills and 39.0 points in USC's 3-1 win over the Sun Devils. Candelas beat that kill total on Nov. 26 with 36 kills in a 3-2 loss at home against No. 5 Stanford.

Top Of The World
Bibiana Candelas is one of three USC players who played for teams that qualified for the 2006 World Championships. Candelas helped the Mexican National Team this summer by advancing at the NORCECA qualifier. Former setter Toni Anderson and libero Nicole Davis aided the United States National Team by winning the NORCECA qualifying tournament.

Valuable Venski
Senior outside hitter Staci Venski (California City/Mojave HS/Calabasas HS) has gelled into one of the team's key players for the 2005 season. She has a 4.36 kills per game average this season, along with a 0.75 blocks per game average.

This season, Venski has eight 20-kill performances which includes a career-high 26 kills on Nov. 26 against No. 5 Stanford in a 3-2 loss at the Lyon Center. She had a previous career-high 23 kills against No. 22 UCLA on Oct. 28 at the Lyon Center. Against the Bruins, she had only one attacking error against 55 attempts for a .400 hitting night.

Venski had 22 kills against No. 5 Penn State on Aug. 31 at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, and tied that mark again on Oct. 22 against No. 8 Arizona in USC's 3-1 win. She registered 20 kills against No. 19 Notre Dame on Sept. 9 and No. 13 Texas A&M on Sept. 11 at the UTSA Dome Rally in San Antonio, Texas.

She hit .384 for the weekend on Oct. 7 and 8 in three-game sweeps at home against Oregon State and Oregon. She had 17 kills against OSU without an attacking error.

After two years of waiting patiently, Venski earned a full-time starting role last year, starting in 28 of 29 matches. She averaged 2.70 kills, 0.61 digs, 0.66 blocks and 3.06 points per game.

The Capital of Denmark
Sophomore outside hitter Diane Copenhagen (Mountain View/St. Francis HS) has a 3.19 kills per game average this season for the Women of Troy, along with 3.19 digs per game. She led the team with 14 kills in the season opener on Aug. 27 against Cal Poly and 17 kills on Aug. 30 against No. 5 Penn State. Copenhagen set a career-high with 24 kills in a five-game loss to No. 6 Florida on Sept. 10 at the UTSA Dome Rally in San Antonio.

Copenhagen played at the 2005 U-20 FIVB World Championships in Ankara, Turkey, with the U.S. Junior National Team. Team USA finished in a tie for 11th place.

The Pahl Bearer
Freshman middle blocker/outside hitter Kelli Tennant (Temecula/Chaparral HS) lists former USC All-America middle blocker Jennifer Pahl (1998-2001) as her biggest sports hero. Tennant is wearing Pahl's number (26) as a tribute to her. Pahl grew up near Tennant in Murrieta, Calif.

Tennant has contributed in her 2005 freshman season, averaging 1.84 kills per game and 0.85 blocks per game.

I Am A Real American
Senior setter Nena Siljegovic (Simi Valley/Royal HS/Moorpark College) is in her first season as a starter after transferring to USC last year. Siljegovic has an 11.92 apg average this season. Her family defected from Serbia in 1998, spending one year in Austria before emigrating to the United States in 2000. Siljegovic and her entire family will officially become United States citizens next year.

A True Trojan Family
Freshman outside 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. and Marcus, who both played on the USC men's volleyball 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).

'Warriors...Come Out to Playyyyyyyyyyy'
Junior defensive specialist Annie Montgomery (Menlo Park/St. Francis HS) is the daughter of Mike Montgomery, the head coach of the NBA's Golden State Warriors.

Injury Report
Redshirt freshman Jessica Gysin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee in July and will be out for the entire 2005 season...senior defensive specialist Jessica Mihm had surgery on her left elbow and is out for the rest of the season...redshirt freshman Kathleen Gilmour is out for the season with a stress fracture in her right leg.

It's All Academic
Junior Alli Dillon (Long Beach, Calif./Wilson HS) was named to the 2005 Pac-10 All-Academic second team on Nov. 21 after earning a 3.73 grade-point-average. Dillon is majoring in occupational therapy.

Team Co-Captains
For the 2005 season, senior outside hitter Staci Venski and junior setter Kimi Freeburg will serve as team co-captains.

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