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Volleyball Excited to Open Season at Troy Tournament

Aug. 24, 2006

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WHAT'S ON SCHEDULE: The Saint Mary's volleyball team begins the 2006 season at the Troy Tournament in Troy, AL. The Gaels will play two matches on the opening day of the tournament, Friday, August 25, facing off against host Troy at 1 p.m. (CST), before facing Florida A&M at 7 p.m. (CST) at the Trojan Arena. Saint Mary's will then turn around and play North Florida at 9 a.m. (CST) on Saturday, August 26. In all, the Gaels will play three matches in an 18-hour span.

TROY TOURNAMENT: The Gaels will travel to Troy, AL for the first time in school history. Saint Mary's will participate in the Hampton Inn Spiketacular held at the Trojan Arena on the Troy University campus. The Gaels have never faced Troy and North Florida, but will be facing Florida A&M for the second consecutive season. Saint Mary's will travel to Troy, AL on Thursday, and won't be there long as they return Saturday after its third match.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS TROY: The Gaels have never faced the Trojans from Troy, AL. Friday's 1 p.m. (CST) match will be the first in school history.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS FLORIDA A&M: The Gaels will be facing the Rattlers for the second consecutive season. Saint Mary's beat Florida A&M 3-0 at McKeon Pavilion on September 10, 2005. The Gaels are 1-0 all-time versus the Rattlers.

Watch and listen to Rob Browning on "Sit Down With Saint Mary's" on the SMCGaels.com home page

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS NORTH FLORIDA: The Gaels have never faced the Ospreys. Saturday's 9 a.m. (CST) match will be the first meeting in school history.

GAELS EARN THIRD STRAIGHT NCAA TOURNEY APPEARANCE: Saint Mary's received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive season in 2005. The Gaels lost in the opening round to Arkansas 3-0 in Columbia, MO. Five teams from the West Coast Conference made the NCAA Tournament, including the Gaels, who finished in fourth place.

BIBLE 42 ASSISTS SHY OF BEING ALL-TIME LEADER: Saint Mary's senior setter Mandy Bible is just 42 assists away from being the Gaels' all-time leader in assists in her career. Bible comes into 2006 with 4,263 assists, just 42 behind Tracie Hajdukovich. Bible recorded 1,341 assists last year and is also the individual single-season assist leader at Saint Mary's with 1,520 assists set in 2003.

KIRK STUFFS BLOCK RECORD: Senior middle blocker Christina Kirk set a school record for assisted blocks and total blocks for a season in 2005. Kirk recorded 167 assisted blocks and 180 total blocks in 101 games played. Kirk also finished third in the nation in blocks per game, averaging 1.84.

KOLKKA ACES ACE RECORD: Senior outside hitter Cassandra Kolkka set a school record for aces in a season with 43 in 2005. Kolkka narrowly beat out teammates Missie Stidham, who finished with 42 and Mandy Bible, who finished with 41.

STIDHAM FINISHED 2005 SECOND ALL-TIME: Junior outside hitter Missie Stidham finished the 2005 season with 496 kills, which ranks second all-time for kills in a season. Jill Parmele holds the record with 566 kills set in 2003. Stidham also finished the 2005 season in second all-time in aces in a season with 42.

SAINT MARY'S RECEIVING VOTES IN TOP 25: The Gaels received six points in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll released on August 8. Saint Mary's was ranked in the top 25 for five weeks last season.

SAINT MARY'S PICKED TO FINISH FOURTH IN WCC: The Gaels were picked to finish in fourth place in the WCC by the conference's coaches, released earlier this month. Saint Mary's finished fourth in conference last season with a 9-5 record. Santa Clara was picked to finish in first, receiving all eight votes after making it to the final four last season. Pepperdine was picked to finish second and San Diego was picked third. Following the Gaels, Loyola Marymount was picked fifth, San Francisco sixth, Gonzaga seventh and Portland was picked to finish eighth.

2006 GAEL VOLLEYBALL OUTLOOK: The Saint Mary's women's volleyball team enters the 2006 season with another year full of high hopes. The Gaels are coming off their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance and are hoping to repeat that performance this season.Saint Mary's had an excellent season in 2005 under then first-year head coach Rob Browning. Browning had an immediate impact as the Gaels finished 19-10 overall and 9-5 in West Coast Conference play, which was good enough for fourth place.One of the exciting things about the 2006 team and that the only lost one senior from a year ago and return 10 letterwinners. Saint Mary's also brings in three freshmen, a recruiting class that was given `High Honorable Mention' by prepvolleyball.com.Last season the Gaels had a school-record six players earn postseason honors. Five of those six players return in 2006 to lead the Gaels.

THREE FRESHMEN JOIN THE ROSTER: Saint Mary's head coach Rob Browning will add three freshmen to this year's team. The Gaels welcome Megan Burton, a 6-2 middle blocker from Kapolei, HI, Lauren Jackel, a 6-0 outside hitter from Littleton, CO, and Alita Fisher, a 5-9 libero from Lakewood, WA.

SIX PLAYERS EARN ALL-WCC HONORS IN 2005: Saint Mary's had a school-record six players earn All-West Coast Conference honors following its 19-10 overall season and 9-5 WCC mark in 2005. Juniors Mandy Bible and Christina Kirk were named to the First Team, along with sophomore Missie Stidham. Bible earned her second consecutive honor, while Kirk and Stidham earned their first. Senior Kaui Salzman and Junior Cassandra Kolkka were named to the All-WCC Honorable Mention Team and freshman Brittany Barker was named to the All-Freshman Team. Salzman and Kolkka each earned their second honorable mention honor.

STIDHAM ENDS 2005 SEASON AS WCC KILLS, POINTS LEADER: Saint Mary's sophomore outside hitter Missie Stidham finished the 2005 conference season as the kills and points leader. Stidham averaged 4.77 kills and 5.69 points per game. She also ranked second in aces per game at 0.43 and 10th in digs at 3.00 per game.

KIRK FINISHED THIRD IN NATION: Saint Mary's junior middle blocker Christina Kirk finished third in the nation in blocks per game in 2005. Kirk averaged 1.84 blocks per game and totaled 13 solo and 167 assisted blocks.

GAELS FINISH WCC AS LEADER IN BLOCKS, ACES AND OPPONENT HITTING PCT.: Saint Mary's led all WCC teams in blocks per game at 3.82, aces per game at 2.16 and opponent hitting percentage at .177 after 14 conference matches in 2005.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE GAELS: Saint Mary's will play in one of its toughest tournaments in the last couple of years as it travels to Lincoln, NE to participate in the Nebraska Tournament. The Gaels will play No. 1 Nebraska on its home court Friday, September 1 at 7 p.m. (CST). The Gaels will then play Long Beach State on Saturday, September 2 at 5 p.m. (CST) and will square off against Middle Tennessee State on Sunday, September 3 at noon (CST).