Aug. 21, 2006
WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE: The 20th-ranked University of San Diego will open its 2006 campaign on the road at the San Diego State University Tournament this upcoming weekend. The Toreros will begin play on Friday against Hofstra University with a 4 p.m. match at Peterson Gym. The Toreros will then play two matches on Saturday, one against Cal State Northridge at 12:30 p.m. and the final match will be at 7 p.m. against the host Aztecs.
COACHING CHANGE: The Toreros are under the direction of a new/familiar face. Brent Hilliard, USD's top assistant for the past five seasons, has been moved to the interim head coach as USD's current head coach Jennifer Petrie who will be taking the semester off to spend time with her new born son Charles, her two-year old daughter Jane, as well as time with her husband Mark. Petrie, who just completed her seventh year, will return to her head coaching position for the 2007 season. Hilliard brings a wealth of volleyball experience to the head coaching position as he has won at the highest levels of volleyball. During his tenure at USD, the Toreros have advanced to the NCAA Tournament all five season's with a program-best Sweet 16 appearance in 2004. Hilliard was a catalyst for the 1991 Long Beach State men's volleyball national championship team en route to earning the NCAA Player of the Year award. In 1992, Hilliard was a member of the bronze medal winning U.S. Olympic team, and one year later, he helped the U.S. earn a silver medal at the Pan American Games. Hilliard continued his volleyball career as a professional in Europe from 1995-1998, playing two seasons in Belgium and one season in the Netherlands. In 1996, Hilliard and the Maasiek Volleyball club from Belgium won the country's championship and competed in the European Champions League.
SCOUTING THE PRIDE: Hofstra University enters the 2006 season returning five starters from the 2005 squad that posted a 19-8 overall record and a 16-2 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association, good for a first place regular season finish. The Pride, which will be in its first season under interim head coach Lauren Netherby, is led by junior setter Shellane Ogoshi, who was the CAA Player and Setter of the Year in 2005. Also back for Hofstra, are junior right side hitter Talita Silva, a second-team All-CAA pick, and senior middle blocker Elizabeth Curley, who earned all-conference honors in 2004.
SCOUTING THE MATADORS: Cal State Northridge, coming off a 4-23 season in 2005, return six starters and 10 letterwinners from this past season's squad. Outside hitter Harmony Burdine, a 2005 Big West Conference All-Freshman team pick, returns along with fellow starters Darla Donaldson, Jenn Probert, Val Kepler, Hilary Brinkman and Kayla Wright. The Matadors are under the direction of fifth-year head coach Jeff Stork. The Toreros are 10-8 all-time against the Matadors in head-to-head competition.
SCOUTING THE AZTECS: San Diego State enters the season after a 16-13 2005 campaign that saw the Aztecs finish fifth in the Mountain West Conference. San Diego State returns four starters from the 2005 squad including Aime Cordeiro who was one of two Aztecs selected to the 2005 MWC All-Conference team. SDSU holds a 25-18 all-time series lead, but the Toreros have now won the past six matches in a row.
AN ALL-AMERICAN RETURNS: San Diego's Christie Dawson returns to the Toreros after earning her first American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American honorable mention in 2005 coupled with a first-team All-West Coast Conference selection. In 2005, Dawson led the team in kills with 483, was tied for the team-lead in blocks with 84 and had a team-high 1,008 attack attempts. USD will look to her leadership to again lift the Toreros into their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in the past 12 seasons.
REPLACING A LEGEND: Jessica Nyrop has one of the most difficult jobs this season, and that is replacing Lindsay Sherburne at the setter position. Nyrop has been buying her time for the past two seasons backing up Sherburne, and now will have the chance to show everyone that she will step in and the Toreros will not miss a beat. Nyrop was a top-100 recruit out of Lake City High School in Harrison, Idaho after earning a first-team All-State 5A honor as a senior in 2004.
ANOTHER DIFFICULT JOB: Another new face to appear in a key role for the Toreros this season will be Kayleen Webster at the libero position. With the departure of three-time WCC Defender of the Year Jackie Bernardin, Webster will look to step in and keep the Toreros rolling. Webster is a freshman from Sonora High School in La Harva, Calif. who was a two-time first-team All-Freeway League selection. Head coach Brent Hilliard is calling her "the best passer I have seen this year so far at the club level."
SHE'S BACK: USD's other All-American candidate, outside left-handed hitter Kristen Carlson, is expected to make a huge impact on the Toreros in 2006. Last season, Carlson was averaging 5.36 kills per game until she suffered a season-ending injury at the start of conference play. USD was 13-1 before she went down for the season. Carlson was ranked ninth in the nation during September in kills with 5.19 per game en route to being selected the WCC Player of the Month. Carlson has made a full recovery and is expected to help lead the Toreros through the 2006 season.
TOREROS IN THE RANKINGS: San Diego's women's volleyball team opens its 2006 campaign ranked No. 20 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll. USD joins two other WCC teams that appear in the CSTV/AVCA top-25 preseason poll as Pepperdine University checks in at No. 19 and the defending WCC Champion Santa Clara University Broncos are ranked No.6 after their run to the final four of the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The Pac-10 secured three of the top ten spots on the poll, and six of the Top 25. The Big Ten was next with five spots on the poll, followed by the Big 12 which produced four and the WCC had three teams out of 25, while the BIG EAST and the SEC are represented by two teams apiece. The WAC, MAC, and Mountain West are each represented by one team on the preseason poll.
TOREROS PICKED TO FINISH THIRD IN WCC: The University of San Diego was tabbed to finish third in the WCC, according to a preseason poll conducted by the conference head coaches. Santa Clara University was picked as the unanimous favorite to repeat as West Coast Conference champions in 2006. The Broncos racked up 64 points, receiving all eight first place votes to sweep the poll. Pepperdine University was picked to finish second with 55 points. San Diego was tapped for third place with 45 points, while Saint Mary's College (36) nudged past Loyola Marymount University (35) for fourth. The University of San Francisco (27), Gonzaga University (17) and the University of Portland (9) took the sixth through eighth spots, respectively.