Aug. 23, 2006
Jackrabbit Kickoff ClassicHosted by South Dakota State University - Brookings, SD
FRIDAY - Aug. 25GONZAGA (0-0) vs. Washington State University (0-0), 8 a.m.GONZAGA vs. Weber State University, 1 p.m.
SATURDAY - Aug. 26GONZAGA vs. North Dakota State University (0-0), 7 a.m.GONZAGA @ South Dakota State University (0-0), 12 p.m.
TOP STORY: Gonzaga University opens its 2006 campaign when it travels to Brookings, S.D., this weekend for the Jackrabbit Kickoff Classic hosted by South Dakota State University. The Bulldogs, who finished the 2005 season with a 10-21 overall record and 2-10 record in the West Coast Conference, will match-up against Washington State University, Weber State University, North Dakota State University and South Dakota State at the tournament.
WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS: This will be the 28th meeting between the two schools with Washington State holding the 21-6 edge. The Bulldogs and Cougars split their two meetings last season, with WSU earning a 3-1 decision early in the season and then GU taking a 3-1 victory on September 24 to break a 15-year losing streak to Washington State. The Cougars return seven letterwinners from last year's squad that finished 9-22 overall and 2-16 in the Pac-10. WSU is coached by third-year head coach Brian Heffernan.
WEBER STATE WILDCATS: In its second match of the tournament, Gonzaga University will play Weber State University, members of the Big Sky Conference. The two schools have meet eight times, with each winning on four occasions. The Bulldogs, who played the Wildcats last in the 2004 DoubleTree Bronco Invitational, earned a 3-1 victory. Weber State returns nine letterwinners, including five starters, from the 2005 squad that finished with a 11-19 overall record and a 5-9 record in the Big Sky Conference. The Wildcats are coached by 14th-year head coach Al Givens.
NORTH DAKOTA STATE BISON: Gonzaga will face one of the newest members of NCAA Division I when they face North Dakota State in the early game on Saturday. The Bison volleyball squad was one of two teams from NDSU to become Division I eligible this season. North Dakota, who is still without conference affiliation, closed out the 2005 season with a 5-31 record. This will be the first meeting between the two schools. Erich Hinterstocker is in his first year as coach of the Bison.
SOUTH DAKOTA JACKRABBITS: Gonzaga will face another new member to NCAA Division I when it plays host South Dakota State in the last game of the tournament. The Jackrabbits are eligible for NCAA Division I postseason play for the first time in 2006 after transitioning from Division II. The Jackrabbits earned a 3-0 victory over the Bulldogs in 2005 at the Oregon Kickoff Classic; the first meeting between the institutions. SDSU, who is coach by Andrew Palileo, returns all six starters from a team that finished 16-19 a season ago.
A LOOK AHEAD: Gonzaga University will host its first volleyball tournament since the 2003 season. The Gonzaga Volleyball Invitational, set for Sept. 1-2, will feature Connecticut, Garnder-Webb and Portland State.
HEAD COACH Kip Yoshimura: Kip Yoshimura enters his fifth year as Gonzaga University's head coach returns a strong squad for the 2006 season. Yoshimura has compiled a 22-96 record during his first four years with the Bulldogs. A former assistant coach at Gonzaga during the 1992 season, Yoshimura has complied a 273-168 career record which includs nine seasons at Lewis-Clark State College where he guided the Warriors to nine-straight NAIA tournament appearances. A 1990 graduate of Long Beach State University, Yoshimura entered the coaching ranks as a student-assistant on Long Beach State's 1989 NCAA National Championship team.
A FAMILIAR FACE ON THE SIDELINES: Kip Yoshimura has added one new coach to his staff in 2006. Abby Cullen returns to her alma mater as an assistant coach after one season as an assistant coach at Central Washington University. Cullen, a four-year starter for the Bulldogs from 2000-03, ranks in the top 10 in the Zags career record book for block assists (3rd, 341), block solos (3rd, 87), total blocks (3rd, 428), total kills (4th, 1,140), attack attempts (7th, 2,917) and games played (8th, 400). She also holds the single-match record for total blocks in a game with 15 and assisted blocks with 13; both recorded against Portland in 2002.
A STEADY SETTER: Junior setter Heather Dunn is one of four junior starters returning to the Gonzaga University squad in 2006. She assumed the starting setter role as a sophomore and boy did she shine. Dunn played in all 31 matches, 115 games, and closed out the season with 1,183 assists which ranks seventh on the GU single-season assist list. She moved into seventh on the Bulldog career assist list with 1,205 total assists. Dunn closed out the 2005 season with 11 double-doubles and had eight matches with 50 or more assists, including a season-high 59 in a four-game win over UC Davis.
HIGH ABOVE THE NETS: Junior Briawna Mueller has continued to develop into one of the top blockers in Gonzaga University history finishing her sophomore season with 33 solo blocks and 98 block assists. Her 33 solo blocks tied for first in the West Coast Conference and tied for fourth single-season at Gonzaga, while her 98 block assists ranks 10th on the single-season list and 131 total blocks ranks seventh. Mueller is also a force on offense for the Bulldogs, finishing last year with a .286 attack percentage, the highest percentage by a GU player since the 1997 season.
DOUGLAS TO ASSUME LIBERO DUTIES: Gonzaga University will have a new libero on the court when play opens this weekend as junior Alecia Douglas will switch from her defensive specialist position she has played the past two seasons to take over the duties. Douglas, who will fill the shoes of graduated senior Jessica Herrera, ranked third on the 2005 squad with 250 digs, reaching double-figure digs in 13 matches.
A RETURNING STAR: Junior Becky Jones will continue to be one of the Bulldogs top offensive players this season. The 2005 West Coast Conference Honorable Mention honoree led the 2005 team with 471 kills and was second with 336 digs. She had 14 double-doubles, including a string of five-straight double-doubles early in the season. She earned All-Tournament recognition at Over the Mountain Invitational, Ruby's Invitational and Fiesta Bowl Classic. Jones also garnered Academic All-WCC with a 3.39 in political science.
A MINOR SETBACK: Gonzaga University was looking forward to the tandem star power of junior Becky Jones and sophomore Michelle Boevers this season, but Boevers suffered a season-ending knee injury late this summer. As a freshman, Boevers ranked second on the squad with 296 kills despite missing the final seven matches of the season. She had double-figure kills in 15 of the 24 matches she played in during 2005.
NEW PLAYERS READY TO TAKE FLIGHT: Coach Kip Yoshimura has brought in a strong freshman class for the third straight season. Six freshmen will take to the court for the first time at the Jackrabbit Kickoff Classic this weekend. Looking to break into the lineup are Layne Brosky, a left-handed hitter; Caitlin Cozad, a middle blocker; Michelle Koike, an outside hitter; Christy Linde and Chelsea Linehan, both defensive specialists, and Emily Johnson, another outside hitter. "I'm excited about the newcomers this year," stated Yoshimura. "Each one has the ability to fight for time on the court this season. These six freshman will strengthen our team tremendously."
SAME SCHOOL JUST DIFFERENT SPORT: After playing two seasons with the Gonzaga University women's basketball team, Elaina Renius decided to join the Bulldog women's volleyball squad during the spring of 2006. The 6-4 middle blocker will be looked upon to add strength to the front line. "We are excited about Elaina," said Yoshimura. "She had a strong showing when she joined our team last spring and will be a good addition for us."
BULLDOGS TABBED 7TH IN WCC COACHES POLL: Gonzaga University's women's volleyball team has been picked to finish seventh in the West Coast Conference this season in a pre-season vote of the conference coaches. Santa Clara University was picked as the unanimous favorite to repeat as West Coast Conference champions in 2006.
Women's Volleyball 2006 Preseason Poll
1. Santa Clara - 64 (8)
2. Pepperdine - 55
3. San Diego - 45
4. Saint Mary¹s - 36
5. Loyola Marymount - 35
6. San Francisco - 27
7. Gonzaga - 17
8. Portland - 9