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USF Volleyball Opens 2006 Season at Arizona Tournament

Aug. 22, 2006

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DONS HEAD TO THE DESERT: San Francisco opens the 2006 regular season when it travels to Tucson, Arizona for the Four Points Sheraton Arizona Invitational. The Dons kick off the season against Northern Colorado Friday, August 25 and then play a pair of matches on Saturday beginning with Siena in the morning session followed by a match against the host No. 18 Wildcats in the nightcap. USF gets its first look at the Bears and Saints and plays the Wildcats for just the second time in school history and first since suffering a sweep in 1997.

2006 Four Points Sheraton Arizona Invitational ScheduleFriday (8/25)Siena vs. Arizona10 AMNorthern Colorado vs. USF12:30 PMNorthern Colorado vs. Arizona7:00 PMSaturday (8/26)Siena vs. USF10:00 AMNorthern Colorado vs. Siena4:30 PMUSF vs. Arizona7:00 PM

DONS EARN VOTES IN 2006 AVCA PRESEASON POLL: San Francisco earned votes in the 2006 AVCA Preseason Poll for the first time in program history. Six West Coast Conference teams earned votes, headlined by No. 6 Santa Clara, No. 19 Pepperdine and No. 20 San Diego. Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary's also collected votes along with the Dons. Five teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season from the WCC, which ended the season ranked No. 4 in RPI. At least three schools have advanced to the NCAA Tournament each year since 1997 with a league all-sport record of six qualifying in 2003.

HASSELBERG TIED FOR THIRD ON SINGLE-SEASON KILLS: Junior outside hitter Kristin Hasselberg emerged as a dominant force for the Dons last season, averaging 4.51 kills per game to go along with 2.21 digs and 44 service aces. After exploding for the first 20-20 match of her career at UC Davis (11/22) in the 2005 regular season finale, Hasselberg became just the second player in program history to surpass 500 kills in a season, finishing in second place on the single-season list with 514 behind only USF Legend Brittanie Budinger (2000-03), who departed the Hilltop with 556 in 2003. Hasselberg ranked third among West Coast Conference kills and points (5.22) leaders, earning WCC Honorable Mention selection. Hasselberg reached double-figures in kills 28 times as a sophomore, including nine matches with 20 or more and led the Dons with 10 double-doubles (kills/digs).

Brynn Maurer EYES CAREER DIGS RECORD: Junior libero/outside hitter Brynn Maurer shattered her single-season digs record with 546 (5.06) in 2005, the sixth highest single-season tally in West Coast Conference history. Maurer is the first Don to surpass 500 digs in a season and after recording 457 (4.81) digs as a freshman owns 1,003 in her career, good for fifth place on the all-time list. USF Hall-of-Famer Melanie Kaiser (1988-91) is the career leader with 1,236.

HEAD COACH Jeff Nelson ENTERS FOURTH YEAR AT THE HELM: USF head coach Jeff Nelson enters his fourth season on the Hilltop focused on guiding the Dons back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time during his tenure on the Hilltop. Nelson propelled San Francisco to the first NCAA berth in program history in 2003. With a 3-2 victory against North Carolina (9/3) at the 2004 Powerade/Asics Classic, Nelson became the program's all-time wins leader (42) and ended the season with 53. Nelson captured his 200th career victory with a sweep of Portland November 6, 2004. In his 12th season as a head coach, Nelson needs seven West Coast Conference wins for the all-time league wins record currently held by Laurie Corbelli (1986-89).

DONS IN TOURNAMENTS: San Francisco won two of its three tournaments in 2005, while Hurricane Rita forced the postponement of the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Invitational featuring the host Islanders, Prairie View A&M and Texas Pan-American. The Dons opened the season in impressive fashion at the 2005 Delaware Invitational, winning the championship with sweeps of New Hampshire and Pittsburgh and a 3-1 victory against the host Blue Hens. USF improved to 7-0 on the season after capturing the title of the 2005 USF Powerade/Asics Classic dispatching William and Mary (3-1), Long Island (3-0), Fresno State (3-0) and North Carolina (3-2). Since Jeff Nelson's arrival on the Hilltop in 2003, San Francisco has won seven tournaments, including an unblemished 4-0 record in 2003. In his 11th season, Nelson has guided teams to 23 tournament titles.

USF VOLLEYBALL CELEBRATES 30 YEARS: San Francisco celebrates its 30th anniversary season in 2006 and will recognize the top-18 players in program history prior to the October 21 West Coast Conference match against Portland and will host a post match honors banquet. For more information, please contact Hannah Crutcher in the volleyball office at hbxrutcher@usfca.edu or at (415) 422-2769.

UP NEXT FOR THE DONS: San Francisco hosts the 2006 Powerade/Asics Classic beginning Friday, September 1 at War Memorial Gym. The three team, three match format begins when the Dons host Sacramento State in a 7:00 PM match on Friday at War Memorial Gym. The Hornets take on UC Santa Barbara in a 4:00 PM contest on Saturday and the tournament closes when the Dons host the Gauchos in a Sunday showdown scheduled for a 2:00 PM first serve.

HAMMERING HASSELBERG: Junior outside hitter Kristin Hasselberg looks to continue her emergence as one of the most dominant outside hitters in program history. A 2005 All-West Coast Conference Honorable Mention selection despite ranking third among league leaders in kills (4.51) and points (5.14), Hasselberg shattered the Dons underclassmen kills record, tallying 725 in her first two seasons on the Hilltop, 91 in front of Theresa Hart (2003-04). The two-time all-tournament selection earned MVP honors at the 2005 USF Powerade/Asics Classic after pounding a career-high 33 kills in a 3-2 win against North Carolina. Hasselberg eclipsed her freshman kills total (212) in the 13th match of the season with her third of 17 kills against Cal Poly (9/13). With 24 kills at UC Davis (11/22), Hasselberg reached 20 kills for the ninth time in 2005. The Carlsbad native paced the team in kills 26 times last season while posting a team-high 10 double-doubles. Hasselberg enters 2006 ranked 14th on the career kills list and needs 133 to crack the top-10.

MAURER DIGS DEFENSE: Already one of the elite defensive players to ever wear the Green and Gold, junior libero Brynn Maurer enters the 2006 season with the program's career digs record in sight. Maurer shattered the underclassmen digs record with 1,003, nearly 400 more than the runner-up and became the first player in school history to surpass 500 in a season, tallying 546 as a sophomore, breaking her own record of 457. Maurer earned top libero honors at the 2005 USF Powerade/Asics Classic and led the Dons with 5.06 digs per game, including a career-high 33 against San Jose State (9/6/05), good for fourth place on the USF single-match charts. Maurer recorded 32 digs against Sacramento State (9/20) marking the fourth time in her career she has tallied at least 30 in a single match. Since her arrival on the Hilltop, Maurer has surpassed 20 digs 21 times and has tallied double-digits 51 times in 55 career matches.

KARTCHNER CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Senior setter Jamie Kartchner enters her final season of collegiate volleyball focused on leading USF to the second NCAA appearance in program history. A two-year starter after transferring from Weber State, Kartchner became just the fourth setter in school history to record 1,000 assists in back-to-back seasons. Kartchner dished out 1,040 assists in 2005 after setting the single-season record with 1,479 in 2004 for a two-year total of 2,519 good for fifth place on the career charts. Molly McEnery (1994-96), currently sits in fourth place with 2,928. Kartchner was named to the 2005 Delaware Invitational and the 2005 USF Powerade/Asics Classic all-tournament teams and averaged 10.51 assists and 1.91 digs.

Jeff Nelson ENTERS FOURTH YEAR: When the Jeff Nelson era began at USF February 13, 2003, few could have anticipated the radical changes he would make on a team coming off just six victories in 2002. In just his first season on the Hilltop, Nelson transformed the Dons into one of the greatest stories in volleyball during the 2003 campaign, guiding San Francisco to the best start (15-0) and the greatest record turnaround (+17) in the history of volleyball in the West Coast Conference. The Dons magical "Season of Firsts" was capped by a berth in the 2003 NCAA Tournament - the first in program history. After three highly successful recruiting classes, Nelson looks to lead the Dons back to the postseason in 2006. Nelson is assisted on the bench by Steve Hendricks, in his second season on the Hilltop after spending eight seasons as the top assistant at Notre Dame and Jackie Bernardin, who enters her first year at USF after a standout playing career at San Diego.

KEARNEY COMES ON FOR THE DONS: Junior middle blocker/opposite hitter Linzy Kearney enters 2006 ready to build upon a strong sophomore campaign. Kearney, who was named a team co-captain, erupted for 15 kills on .700 hitting to go along with two blocks against William and Mary (9/2) and then set a career-high with 16 kills in a win against San Jose State (9/6). Kearney established career-highs in virtually every statistical category last season, averaging 1.65 kills to go along with 0.97 blocks per game. Kearney tied a three-game match record with 11 blocks against Cal Poly (9/13).

GOOD GOING GOMBOS: After a monster spring season and a standout preseason, sophomore middle blocker Alix Gombos looks poised for a big year in 2006. Last season, the PrepVolleyball.com All-American wasted little time etching her name in the USF record books. In her first career start against Delaware (8/27), Gombos tied the program single-match record for attack percentage at .833 (10 kills, 0 errors, 12 attempts). Gombos equaled setter Kristina Bognar (15, 0, 18) who accomplished the feat at Gonzaga (10/12/00).

CARROLL COMING ON STRONG: Sophomore setter Darcy Carroll turned in a solid freshman season running the offense. During West Coast Conference play, Carroll averaged 8.61 assists and 1.70 digs per game and earned 2005 West Coast Conference Freshman Team honors. Carroll turned in the first double-double of her career against Portland (11/11) with 43 assists and a career-high 11 digs. The Gilroy native set her career-high in assists the next night against Gonzaga (11/12) with 49.

Susan Bednarova IMPRESSIVE: Sophomore outside hitter Susan Bednarova appears ready to make her mark for USF this season. The Slovakia native made an impressive USF debut at the 2005 Delaware Invitational, averaging 3.25 kills per game on .368 hitting with just five errors in 57 attempts. Bednarova tallied a season-high 11 kills on .409 hitting against the host Blue Hens (8/27). In her first season in the United States, Bednarova averaged 1.85 kills and 1.18 digs per game.

USF THROWS HUGE BLOCK PARTY IN 2005: San Francisco broke the program total blocks record in 2005 with 293.0, 10 more than the 1999 squad and rated third in blocks per game with 2.55. Since Jeff Nelson arrived on the Hilltop for the 2003 season, USF has recorded top statistical seasons in six of 12 overall categories and has posted 23 top-five season marks.

TAKING THE FIFTH: USF turned in an impressive 6-0 record in five-game matches in 2005 after going 0-4 during the 2004 campaign. Since head coach Jeff Nelson took over the reigns in 2003, the Dons are 11-6 in matches going the distance. USF was 5-2 in five sets during its "Season of Firsts", with its only two setbacks coming against No. 13 Loyola Marymount and No. 5 Pepperdine.

LEJEUNE AND SHORTS NAMED TEAM CAPTAINS: On a team with just four upperclassmen USF selected its only seniors - Jencie Lejeune and KeLicia Shorts - as team captains for 2005. Both enter their fourth year of volleyball on the Hilltop and look poised to propel the Dons back to the postseason.