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West Coast Countdown: Toreros Poised For a Four Peat at WCC Title

Aug. 27, 2009

Consider six West Coast Conference championships, 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, two trips to the Sweet Sixteen, seven AVCA All-Americans, five WCC Player's of the Year...combined with a first-rate coaching staff that has three WCC Coach of the Year Awards, one Olympic Bronze Medal, and a NCAA National Player of the Year...include a beautiful campus, an amazing city and a dedicated fan base, and you have...San Diego Volleyball.

Over the past 15 years, the Toreros have become a national power in the sport of women's volleyball, and this season the Toreros will look to continue that tradition as they gun for their fourth consecutive West Coast Conference championship and ninth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.

"Our goals for the 2009 season are extremely exciting, as we defend the West Coast Conference Championship for the fourth year in a row, which will be very challenging," stated head coach Jennifer Petrie. "This year's squad is filled with veterans that have high expectations not only in conference, but also for the NCAA tournament at the end of the year."

The Toreros are locked, loaded and ready for this season as they return senior All-American outside hitter Amy Mahinalani DeGroot, and All-American candidate Ali Troost. DeGroot took home All-American honors last year after leading the team in kills with 392 (4.22 kps) and was second in digs with 231, en route to being named the WCC Player of the Year. Troost will also be a huge impact player for the Toreros this season, as the junior right side brings back her 221 kills, .291 attack percentage and her first-team All-WCC distinction from a year ago.

"The combined offensive power that Ali and Amy add to our team is tough to stop," said Petrie. "They are two of the strongest attackers not only in our conference, but also in the country. Their experience and leadership will hugely impact the success of our season."

Petrie and the coaching staff can also look to a pair of seniors in middle hitter Torey Ellick and libero Kayleen Webster to provide strong leadership and set the standards for the program. Ellick returns after having a break out junior season in which she recorded 195 kills and hit for a .335 clip. Ellick also led the team in blocks with 53. Webster was used mainly in the back row last season, and this season, she will be looked upon to lead the team's defense. As a junior, Webster recorded 159 digs and had three service aces.

Another impact player who makes a return is junior middle blocker/outside hitter Ashton Basch. Last season, Basch was moved to the outside after several injuries hit the team, and in turn she flourished. In her first match in this position, she recorded a career-high 17 kills on a nationally televised victory over WCC rival Santa Clara. It was all business for the remainder of the season for Basch as she finished second on the team in kills with 237, while hitting for a .248 clip and recording 48 blocks.

The remainder of the outside hitters are comprised of freshmen in the form of Mariah Jakosky, Amber Tatsch, and Carrie Baird.

Jakosky comes to USD after a stand-out career at Mater Dei High School, where she earned back-to-back first-team All-Trinity League honors as a junior and senior and was also selected to the All-Orange County team in those same seasons. She also played club volleyball for Long Beach Mizuno.

Tatsch comes to the Toreros from San Antonio, Texas, where she was not only a stand-out on the Ronald Reagan High School team but also a valuable member of the Austin Junior Volleyball club team, where she helped lead the team to the 2008 National Championship. While at Ronald Regan High School, she recorded 602 kills and 442 digs en route to being named All-American, named to the All-State Team, and being named the Express Payer of the Year as a senior. She was also named as a Fab-50 incoming freshman according to Sports Imports.

Baird is also another highly touted recruit for the Torero coaching staff as she too comes into USD as a Fab-50 incoming freshman according to Sports Imports after putting together an impressive club and high school career. Baird, a native of Greenwood Village, Colo., played club volleyball for the Front Range Volleyball 18-1 Black team, where she helped lead her team to 14 top-5 finishes in national club tournaments, was a USA High Performance A2 Team member, and played in Global Challenge Tournament in Europe, where she helped her team qualify for the Junior Olympics by taking a Gold medal in the Big South Qualifier in 2008. While at Cherry Creek High School, she was a three-time first-team All-Centennial League selection and as a senior she helped led her team to a perfect 31-0 record and a 5A state championship while breaking the schools 12-year old career kills record, and how sits atop the record books with 963 career kills.

Junior Colleen Carlson also could see time at the middle hitter position this season after a strong sophomore campaign. Carlson, who sat out most of last season with an injury, came back to play strong in WCC action and played a big role in helping USD win its third consecutive WCC crown. Last season, she recorded 68 kills and hit for a .250 clip, while also recording 41 blocks.

A freshman that could see time on the court in the middle will be Shelby Staab from Bakersfield, Calif. Staab, who was a standout on the Garces Memorial High School team, is a three-time All-Southeast Yosemite League selection and ended her career as the schools all-time leader in career kills (1,060) and career blocks (365). In her senior season, she recorded 173 kills, while hitting at a .533 clip and was named the US Marine Corps Female Athlete of the Year.

Also battling for time on the court will be sophomore Sarah Schatzman, who is returning for her second season as a Torero. Last season, Schatzman saw limited action and will look to earn more court time in trying to help USD win its fourth consecutive WCC championship and reaching the NCAA Tournament for a ninth consecutive season.

Turning to the setter position, the Toreros will look to junior Kelsi Myers to orchestrate the San Diego offense. Myers has seen a lot of valuable playing time on the court in her first two seasons. Last season, Myers recorded 77 assists, had four service aces and 15 digs. But as a freshman, she put up great numbers while splitting time at the setter position recording 547 assists in helping direct the Toreros offense to a .247 team attack percentage.

Backing up Myers will be freshman Erica Taylor from Upland, Calif. Taylor comes to USD from Upland High School where she helped lead her team win back-to-back league championships and earned first-team All-League honors as a junior and senior. She set the single-season assist record with 772 as a senior, is ranked second all-time in career assists with 1,759, moved into the all-time lead in career aces with 120, is ranked No. 4 all-time in career digs with 293, and set the single-season record with aces and assists.

Backing up Webster at libero will be freshman Ashton Senner from Los Gatos, Calif. Senner is a three-time first-team All-CCS selection, was named the 2008 League Senior of the Year after recording 527 digs (5.9 dps) and 97 aces in her final season.

11th-year head coach Jennifer Petrie has put together another rigurous schedule for the Toreros to play in including home matches against cross-town rival San Diego State and a nationally televised match against WCC rival Pepperdine on Oct. 28. USD will also square off against perennial powers Texas and Long Beach State to begin the 2009 campaign in a tournament in Long Beach and will have a home-and-home with WCC rival Santa Clara as well.

"Our 2009 preseason schedule is filled with tough opponents that will prepare us for our WCC championship run," stated Petrie. "Texas, Long Beach State, and UC Santa Barbara, just to name a few, will challenge us early on in the season. Of course, with five out of eight WCC teams earning NCAA bids last season, the true test will come in league play. We are anxious to start competing again."