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Aug 21- WCC coaches are excited for another competitive season of West Coast Conference women's volleyball

Aug. 21-

Around the WCC in 2002

* Pepperdine claimed their ninth West Coast Conference title. It's the Waves' third title in four years. It is also Pepperdine's first back-to-back titles since they won five straight championships from 1987-91.

* Katie Wilkins of Pepperdine was named WCC Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Wilkins is only the third back-to-back WCC Player of the Year joining Petia Yanchulova (1998-99) from San Diego and Kim Blankinship (1995-96) from LMU.

* Santa Clara standout Becky Potter made program history when she was named AVCA Second Team All-America in 2002. She became the first Bronco Volleyball player to earn All-American status after becoming only the second player in program history to earn All-Pacific Region honors last year as well.

* As a junior last season, senior Brittanie Budinger was the first player from USF to be named to the WCC All-Conference First Team since Lisa Tschannen in 1992.

* Jeff Nelson joined the WCC ranks in the spring, when he was named head coach for the University of San Francisco volleyball program, replacing former head coach David Noble. Nelson comes to USF after leading Texas Tech for eight seasons. Under his leadership, the Red Raiders posted five trips to the NCAA Tournament and five 20-victory campaigns.

* Since becoming an NCAA Division I sport in 1986, Portland's 15-15 (.500) overall record in 2002 is the third-best in school history. Portland's 10-4 start in non-conference play was the best start since 1992 and surpassed the number of wins Portland posted last season. The Pilots posted a 7-7 (.500) home record, 3-8 (.273) away record and a perfect 5-0 (1.000) neutral site record in 2002.

* As a team, Saint Mary's led the conference in blocks with 3.06 per game, led by Stacey O'Conner, who averaged a league-high 1.67 blocks per game. The Gaels ranked 19th in the nation in blocks with O'Conner leading the way, ranking seventh in the country.

A bright spot for Gonzaga in 2002 was freshman Missy Perry, who led the Zags with 14 service aces, averaging 0.27 per game, and assists with 10.31 per game...Under second year Head Coach Kip Yoshimura, the Bulldogs return four seniors and five starters to this season's squad. In addition to the experienced squad they have returning, the Zags add junior setter Emilee Gihring, who transferred from Denver University last spring.

Loyola Marymount
Tiana Newsome ranked second in the conference with 1.51 blocks per game and is one of the league's top returning middle blockers in 2003...Senior Kristen Gallup ranked sixth in the conference with 4.33 kills per game and fifth in the league with 4.95 points per game...Head Coach Steve Stratos enters his 14th year at LMU. In 13 seasons at LMU, Stratos has led the Lions to eight 20-win seasons and eight postseason appearances, including four consecutive in the NCAA Championships from 1997-2000. Stratos has posted a career total of 262-123, for a .681 winning percentage, the highest in LMU volleyball history and second among current WCC coaches.

The Waves are coming off a 26-7 record in which they advanced to the "Elite Eight" of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and concluded the year ranked No. 6 in the final AVCA poll...Pepperdine made its fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2002... Pepperdine returns four All-WCC performers, including two-time WCC Player of the Year, senior Katie Wilkins, and WCC Co-Freshman of the Year, Breegan Mulligan. All-WCC first team member Lyndsey Hache' returns at middle blocker, while honorable mention performer Brie Harris is back at outside hitter.

Defensive Player of the Year Carlie Price led the West Coast Conference in digs with 5.04 per game, which also ranked fifth in the nation ...The Pilots made a nine game improvement on their 6-20 record in 2001. At 15-15 last season, Portland posted it's best record since 1991 when the team went 16-16...The Pilots return four starters, including a young core of three sophomores in Monique Kettler, Sara Vercruyssen, and Sheena Surplus. All three saw considerable time as freshman...Last season, senior Heather Denison and sophomore Sheena Surplus made their mark on the Portland career leaders list. Denison is 15th in total blocks (139), and Sheena Surplus is third in assists per game (11.04) and ninth in assists (1,225).

Saint Mary's
In 2002, SMC finished tied for fourth in league after being picked to finish last in the preseason poll...Juniors Lindsey Bogason and Stacey O'Connor look to lead the Gaels to new heights this season after both received 2002 All-WCC Honorable Mention honors last year. Bogason lead the team in kills with an average of 3.69 per game last season and O'Connor was ranked sixth in the nation in blocks per game with 1.62...The Gaels' 6-8 conference record was a four-win improvement under first year Head Coach Jon Stevenson. This season, Saint Mary's looks to break into the top three of the league standings for the first time since 1989.

San Diego
WCC Co-Freshman of the Year Lindsey Sherburne ranked eighth in the nation with 13.59 assists per game. Sherburne's 1454 assists last season ranked 2nd in the San Diego single-season record books...Last season marked the 11th year in a row that San Diego has finished WCC play with a mark above .500 (10-4 WCC)... San Diego junior outside hitter Devon Forster returns for a Toreros' squad that ranked just outside the Top 25 most of last season. Forster is a two-time All-WCC first team performer and is one of the top returning kills leaders in the WCC.

San Francisco
San Francisco hopes to make a leap in the league standings under new head coach Jeff Nelson, who joins the league after serving as head coach at Texas Tech...After months of rehabilitation, former All-WCC honorable mention honoree Teresa Russell will return to the lineup after nearly 20 months out of action. Russell tore her ACL during the 2001 season after leading the team in most offensive and defensive categories that season.

Santa Clara
Returning to the Broncos' line-up are All-WCC first team performers, seniors Becky Potter and Kelli Sousa. Potter was one of the nation's leaders in kills per game at 5.34 and was SCU's first-ever all-American as a AVCA second-teamer. Potter also set a new school record for kills in a season with 571. Sousa ranked number one in the country in assists per game at 14.38. Her assist average and 1,610 total assists set new NCAA records for the sport since the adoption of the new scoring system in 2001...Head Coach Jon Wallace earned his fourth winning season in as many years... The Broncos were tabbed 14th in the AVCA preseason poll marking the third straight year the women's volleyball team begins the season ranked in the top 25.