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Home Season Opens With LMU-USC Hilton LAX Invitational

Aug. 31, 2006

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Briefly...
Loyola Marymount volleyball (2-1) opens its home season this weekend, hosting the LMU-USC Hilton LAX Invitational Friday and Saturday in Gersten Pavilion. LMU will face 11th-ranked Tennessee (3-0) Friday, and Fresno State (1-3) and North Carolina (1-2) on Saturday. There will be an additional match on Saturday when the 11th-ranked Lady Volunteers battle the Tar Heels. USC is also hosting matches this weekend as part of the tournament.

The LMU-USC Hilton LAX Invitational...
The Lions' first home match is also the first match of the tournament in Gersten Pavilion, with LMU taking on 11th-ranked Tennessee Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Play continues Saturday morning with the Lions and Fresno State taking to the court at 11:00 a.m. Tennessee and North Carolina follow, starting around 1:00 p.m. The Lions will face North Carolina in the Saturday night match, with first serve at 7:00 p.m. Other tournament matches will be played at USC. As a result, the tournament is more of a "showcase" format, and no champions or all-tournament selections will be named. All matches in Gersten Pavilion will be carried on Gametracker and video streaming at www.LMULions.com. All LMU matches will also have an audio broadcast through Lions' All-Access at www.LMULions.com.

The LMU-USC Hilton LAX Invitational Match-Ups...
LMU: The Lions open their home season after a 2-1 run at the Arizona State Hilton Phoenix/East Mesa Sun Devil Volleyball Classic. LMU topped Utah Valley State and Northeastern before falling to the host Sun Devils Saturday night. Emily Day, who posted three double-doubles in three matches, and Heather Hughes were named to the all-tournament team. With the AVCA Preseason Poll still in effect until next week, the Lions are receiving votes for the top-25.

#11 Tennessee: The Lady Volunteers enter the tournament 3-0 after winning the Comcast Lady Vol Classic last weekend. Senior middle blocker Sarah Blum led Tennessee in the tournament, averaging 3.33 kills per game with a .472 hitting percentage. Tennessee and LMU are tied 1-1 in the all-time series, last meeting here at this same tournament in 2004.

Fresno State: The Bulldogs begin the weekend 1-3 after hosting the Fresno State Invitational last weekend. There, junior middle blocker Alisha McKee leads Fresno State with 4.00 kills per game. The Bulldogs have a 9-4 advantage over LMU in the all-time series, with the last meeting coming in 1997.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels are 1-2 after a weekend at the Sooner Legends Nike Invitational where they topped Idaho and fell to Arkansas and host Oklahoma. Bekah Brinkley led North Carolina with 3.11 kills per game and was named to the all-tournament team. The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with LMU 2-0, last meeting in 2004 at the UNC GlaxoSmithKline Classic in Chapel Hill.

Good Day...
One of LMU's six returning starters, Emily Day was a 2005 West Coast Conference All-Freshman selection. Last season, Day finished strong, tallying double-digit kills in 14 of the Lions' final 17 matches. After last weekend, that stat has grown, as the Lions' sophomore has now posted double-digit kills in 17 of the Lions' last 20 matches dating back to 2005. The Lions got 21 kills and 11 digs from Day for the Lions' first double-double of the season on Friday against Utah Valley State. On Saturday, she had 12 kills and 11 digs in the sweep of Northeastern, and 12 kills and 24 digs against Arizona State. One of two Lions selected to the all-tournament team at the Hilton Phoenix/East Mesa Sun Devil Volleyball Classic, she finished with the statistical double-doubles in each of the three weekend matches. Heather Hughes joined Day on the all-tournament team after capping off the weekend with 19 kills and 25 digs against Arizona State.

Among the Nation's Best...
The Lions are already among the nation's best, beginning the season earning votes in the AVCA's top-25 preseason poll. LMU earned 18 votes, placing them in the nation's top-35 vote-getters. The Lions are also ranked 42nd in the Rich Kern.com preseason poll.

WCC Sends Five to 2005 NCAA Tournament...
Led by Head Coach Steve Stratos, the Lions were one of five West Coast Conference programs to make the postseason in 2005, as LMU joined Santa Clara, San Diego, Pepperdine, and Saint Mary's in the NCAA tournament. For the second time in three seasons, the WCC led all conferences in percentage of teams to qualify for the tournament, sending 62.5 percent of its programs to the postseason. The Big 12 Conference leads all leagues in number of participating teams, with seven teams selected. The WCC finished the 2005 season ranked fourth in the final volleyball conference RPI rankings.

Great Scheduling...
The Lions have once again compiled a challenging schedule for the 2006 season. LMU will play seven matches against teams ranked in the 2006 AVCA preseason top-25 poll. The WCC coaches picked the Lions to finish fifth in conference action.

The Stats on Strat...
Head Coach Steve Stratos led the Lions to a third-straight NCAA postseason in his 16th campaign at the helm of the program with a 16th straight winning season. In his time at LMU, Stratos has led the Lions to nine 20-win seasons and 11 postseason appearances. Stratos entered the 2006 season with a career record of 324-153, the most victories in LMU volleyball history and second among current WCC coaches. In league action, he owns a mark of 157-67, good for a .701 winning percentage. Posting 157 career conference victories, Stratos again ranks second among current WCC coaches. During the 2004, Stratos reached the 300-win milestone with a 3-0 win over the University of Portland in Gersten Pavilion.

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