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Zags Open at Ruby's Montana Tourney

Aug. 23, 2007

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TOP STORY: Gonzaga University opens its 2007 campaign when it travels to Missoula, Mont., this weekend for the Ruby's Montana Invitational hosted by the University of Montana. The Bulldogs, who finished the 2006 season with a 9-20 overall record and 4-10 record in the West Coast Conference, will match-up against Canisius College, UC Irvine and Montana at the Tournament.

CANISIUS GOLDEN GRIFFINS: This will be the first meeting between Canisius College and Gonzaga University. The Golden Griffins were picked fourth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) preseason poll. Canisius lost four starters from its 2006 team that went 22-10 and and 14-4 in the MAAC. Canisius returns both Jess Stackhouse and Brittany Gerde. Stackhouse, who was named to the 2007 preseason All-MAAC sqaud, closed out the 2006 season averaging 5.40 digs per game, while Brittany Gerde is the Golden Griffins setter who averaged 10.69 assists per game in 2006. Coach Cathy Hummel has a 73-91 career record entering her seventh season at CC.

UC IRVINE ANTEATERS: In its second match of the tournament, Gonzaga University will play UC Irvine, members of the Big West Conference. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Bulldogs and Anteaters and second-straight first-time match for GU. UC Ivine returns 11 letterwinners, including all starters expect one, from the 2006 squad that finished with a 13-16 overall record and a 7-7 record in the Big West Conference. UC Irvine is coached by Charlie Brande who is 97-111 at UCI entering his eighth season.

MONTANA GRIZZLIES: Gonzaga University will close out the Ruby's Montana Invitational with a matchup against the University of Montana. This will be the 38th meeting between the Bulldogs and Grizzlies. Montana holds the 27-9 lead in the all-time series and has won the last three matches. The Grizzlies were picked for a third-place finish in the preseason Big Sky Conference coaches poll. Montana finished fourth in last year's final regular-season standings with a 9-7 league record. Montana is coached by Jerry Wagner, a former Gonzaga assistant coach, who is in his second year at the helm in 2007.

A LOOK AHEAD: Gonzaga University will host in-state rival Washington State University on Wednesday, Aug. 29 before hosting the Gonzaga Volleyball Tournament Aug. 31-Sept. 1. WSU returns to the Martin Centre for only the third time in 16 years. The Cougars played at Gonzaga in 1991 and 2005. GU will match-up against WSU at 7 p.m.

The Gonzaga Volleyball Tournament will feature the University of Washington, Morgan State University and Boise State University. GU will face UW on Friday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. and MSU and BSU on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

HEAD COACH Kip Yoshimura: Kip Yoshimura enters his sixth year as Gonzaga University's head coach. Yoshimura has compiled a 31-116 record during his first five years with the Bulldogs. A former assistant coach at Gonzaga during the 1992 season, Yoshimura has complied a 282-188 career record which includes 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.

STRONG LEADERSHIP: The Gonzaga University women's volleyball team welcomes back four senior starters for the 2007 campaign. Returning to the mix this season is setter Heather Dunn, outside hitter Becky Jones, middle blocker Briawna Mueller and libero Alecia Douglas. All four played in all 111 games for Gonzaga last season.

DUNN, who begins her third straight season as the Zags mainstay setter, finished the 2006 campaign dishing out 1,273 assists (11.47 per game); the third-most sets in a single Gonzaga season. The WCC honorable mention honoree also had 267 digs, 54 total blocks and 105 kills.

JONES could arguably be one of Gonzaga's best outside hitters. She broke the 1,000 kill plateau as a junior and is currently ninth all-time with 1,096 kills. Jones finished her junior campaign with a team-best 417 kills, her second-straight season with 400-plus kills. She also was strong defensively for the Bulldogs collecting 349 digs, second-best on the squad, along with 55 total blocks. Jones earned honorable mention WCC for the second-straight season.

MUELLER continues to be a dominating force above the net for the Bulldogs. She finished the 2006 season with a team-best 138 total blocks (110 block assists, 28 solo blocks). Mueller also finished with 277 kills a season ago and a team-best .281 hitting percentage. On her career, Mueller has blocked a total of 389, which ranks her fifth in the GU career record book.

DOUGLAS will again be the starting libero for the Bulldogs. In her first season as the fulltime libero, Douglas flourished. She closed out her junior campaign with a team-leading 375 digs and 30 service aces.

A STAR RETURNS: Outside hitter Michelle Boevers returns to the floor for Gonzaga University after redshirting the 2006 season with a knee injury. As a freshman in 2005, Boevers ranked second on the squad in kills with 296 despite missing the final seven matches of the season due to a different knee injury. She also ranked ninth in the WCC in kills-per-game with 3.44.

A MINOR SETBACK: The Gonzaga University women's volleyball squad was looking forward to redshirt freshman Kelsey Bashaw hitting the court again in 2007 but a late summer knee injury has sidelined her for the season. Bashaw was projected to be the back-up setter to senior setter Heather Dunn. Newcomer Allyson Powell, a defensive specialist, will now inherit the roll of back-up setter.

NEW PLAYERS READY TO TAKE FLIGHT: Coach Kip Yoshimura has brought in a strong freshman class for the fourth straight season. Three freshmen will take to the court for the first time at the Ruby's Montana Invitational this weekend. Looking to break into the lineup are Allyson Powell, a defensive specalist/setter; Brittany Beatty, also a defensive specalist; and Gillian Hanzlik, a middle blocker. "Our three newcomers could all have the ability to see court time this season," explained Yoshimura. "They will only make our team stronger."

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. Pepperdine University was selected as the favorite to capture the 2007 WCC regular season title. The Waves garnered five first place votes and tallied 61 overall points to earn the top spot.

Women's Volleyball 2007 Preseason Poll
1. Pepperdine - 61 (5)
2. San Diego - 52 (1)
3. Santa Clara - 50 (1)
4. Loyola Marymount - 37
5. San Francisco - 30
6. Saint Mary's - 27 (1)
7. GONZAGA - 23
8. Portland - 8
(First place votes)