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Volleyball Looks To Bounce Back Against Long Beach, Idaho

Sept. 6, 2006

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WHAT'S ON SCHEDULE: The Saint Mary's volleyball team hits the road for a third consecutive week. The Gaels travel to Southern California to face Long Beach State and Idaho in the Long Beach State Invitational. The Gaels will face the 49ers on Thursday, September 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pyramid in Long Beach, CA before facing Idaho on Friday, September 8 at 5 p.m. at the Pyramid.

LONG BEACH INVITATIONAL: The Gaels will face Long Beach State and Idaho in two matches this week. The Long Beach Invitational will just be two matches for each team and will not be in a tournament format. The Gaels return Saturday morning, after taking off on Wednesday afternoon.

WHO'S HOT: The Gaels' senior middle blocker Christina Kirk averaged 2.62 kills with a .347 hitting percentage and added 1.08 blocks per game. Kirk's best match of the Nebraska Invitational came against Middle Tennessee State, when she recorded 15 kills and six blocks. Against No. 1 Nebraska, Kirk recorded six kills with a .417 hitting percentage. Kirk also recorded 13 kills and seven blocks against Long Beach State.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS LONG BEACH STATE: The Gaels are coming off a 3-2 loss to the 49ers just four days ago. Long Beach State beat the Gaels in five games at the Nebraska Tournament held last Saturday in Lincoln, NE. The Gaels are 0-4 all-time against the 49ers, including a four-game loss last year in Long Beach. Saint Mary's will be playing in the Pyramid this season, as it had to play in the 49ers' auxiliary gym last year.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS IDAHO: The Gaels will be facing Vandals for the second time in school history. The Gaels are 0-1 against Idaho, with a 3-2 loss coming in 2000 on a neutral court. The two will be squaring off on a neutral court again on Friday night.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Saint Mary's volleyball team and staff will hit the road for a third consecutive week. The Gaels just returned from Lincoln, NE late Sunday night and after three days on campus, leave Wednesday night for Long Beach. Saint Mary's will not return until Saturday afternoon. Prior to the Gaels' trip to Nebraska for four days, the Gaels traveled to Troy, AL for three days.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE: The Gaels had two players record double-doubles the last time they faced Long Beach State on Saturday. Mandy Bible recorded her first double-double of the year with 57 assists and 18 digs. Senior Lauren Holland also recorded her first double-double of the year with 13 kills and 15 digs.

CAREER-HIGH FOR JAECKEL: Saint Mary's freshman outside hitter Lauren Jaeckel recorded a career-high 11 kills with an outstanding .450 hitting percentage against Middle Tennessee State on Sunday. Jaeckel had her career-best eight kills in her first match of the year against Troy.

LAST WEEK: Saint Mary's participated in the Nebraska Invitational, where it went 0-3 against No. 1 Nebraska, Long Beach State and Middle Tennessee State. The Gaels lost in five games to both Long Beach State and Middle Tennessee State and lost in three games to No. 1 Nebraska. The Gaels played in front of a sold out Nebraska Coliseum in all three matches, as it holds 4,030 fans in a volleyball only environment.

BIBLE BREAKS ALL-TIME ASSISTS RECORD: Saint Mary's senior setter Mandy Bible broke the school's all-time assist record after recording 110 assists this weekend. Bible now has 4,373 assists in just over three years in a Gael uniform. The senior setter from Santa Barbara, CA broke Tracie Hajdukovich's 15-year-old record. Bible also holds the all-time assists per game record, which stands at 12.73 per game.

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.

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 Jaeckel, a 6-0 outside hitter from Littleton, CO, and Alita Fisher, a 5-9 libero from Lakewood, WA.

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.

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.

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 hits the road again for its fourth straight week when it travels across the bay to play in the Stanford Tournament. The Gaels will face UC Irvine on Friday, September 15 at 5 p.m. and Stanford on Saturday, September 16 at 5 p.m., with both games being played at Maples Pavilion.