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Lions Host LMU Hilton LAX Invitational

Sept. 6, 2007

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LMU Hilton LAX Invitational Central

Some of the top volleyball in the nation will take the court inside Gersten Pavilion again this weekend, when the Lions host Tulane, Columbia, and 10th-ranked Wisconsin for the LMU Hilton LAX Invitational. Reigning National Player of the Week Heather Hughes and the Lions will open with Tulane Friday night at 7:00 p.m.

It's easy to follow the Lions throughout the 2007 season! Just log on to LMULions.com for all the latest Lion volleyball coverage. All of this weekend's LMU matches will be carried live on the Lions' Audio Network and Gametracker, with links found on the volleyball schedule page. Just click on the current match on the schedule and the links will appear in the window on the right. There is also a special tournament central page dedicated to this weekend's LMU Hilton LAX Invitational. The link can be found above.

The Lions will host their second tournament in as many weekends, as Tulane, Columbia, and 10th-ranked Wisconsin come to town. The action begins Friday at 4:30 p.m. with the Badgers and the Columbia Lions. LMU follows with a match-up against the Green Wave. The teams continue Saturday with the morning session starting at 10:00 a.m. and the evening session beginning at 5:00 p.m.
COLUMBIA: This weekend's tournament will be the first action of the 2007 season for the Columbia Lions (0-0), who return three starters from last year's team that finished eighth in the Ivy League. Acting Head Coach Brie Katz has added four newcomers to the squad.
TULANE: The Green Wave will be the second undefeated team the Lions will face this week, as LMU topped previously undefeated UC Irvine Tuesday night. Tulane, now 7-0, is receiving votes in this week's CSTV/AVCA Top-25 Poll. The 7-0 mark equals the best start in Tulane history, and includes two title wins from recent weekend tournaments. The Green Wave features four returning All-Conference USA players from 2006, including two-time AVCA All-American Sara Radosevic and 2006 Midwest Region Freshman of the Year Ksenija Vlaskovic.
#10 WISCONSIN: The 10th-ranked Badgers (5-1) are on the road for the second straight weekend as part of a 10-match road swing. Wisconsin currently leads the Big Ten in kills (16.95) and assists (15.85) per game, along with hitting percentage (.277). Jackie Simpson and Brittney Dolgner represented the Badgers on two all-tournament teams so far this season.
LMU: The Lions (4-3) won their first five-game match of the season on Tuesday, when LMU topped UC Irvine 3-2 in mid-week road action. With perhaps the toughest non-conference tournament slate in program history, LMU will shoot for its first tournament title of the season this weekend. Senior Heather Hughes has represented LMU on both the Trojan Invitational and the LMU Four Points Sheraton LAX Classic all-tournament teams, while freshman setter Renee Horton joined her on the latter last weekend. Two of LMU's three losses have come at the hands of a team ranked in the top-25 this season.

The honors continued for Heather Hughes, as the senior was named Collegiate Volleyball Update's National Player of the Week on Sept. 4. The selection marks the first such honor for a Lion since Olympian Sarah Noriega (1994-97) was awarded the national player of the week distinction in 1997. Hughes earned the title of West Coast Conference Player of the Week after leading the Lions to a 2-1 run in the tournament, featuring 3-0 wins over UC Santa Barbara and Northwestern. Over the Lions' 10 games played, Hughes had 78 kills, averaging 7.80 kills per game while hitting .405 on the weekend. She added 46 digs, 12 assists, eight blocks, and two service aces. In the tournament title match against the Rebels, Hughes tallied a statistical triple-double with a career-high 31 kills, along with 10 assists, and 15 digs. For the second straight weekend, she earned an all-tournament selection.The WCC Player of the Week selection was the first of the young 2007 season for the Lions, and the fourth career selection for the senior Hughes.

Heather Hughes and Renee Horton were named to the all-tournament team following the LMU Four Points Sheraton Classic title tilt. Hughes' numbers on the weekend really turned heads as she averaged 7.80 kills and 4.60 digs per game while hitting .462 over the course of the tournament. She tallied a career-high 31 kills en route to a statistical triple-double with 10 assists and 15 digs in the four-game match Saturday night. Horton also had an impressive weekend with 148 assists, 20 kills, 20 digs, and a team-high four aces. She was just two digs shy of her own triple-double against UNLV.

For the first time since 2001, the volleyball match-up between LMU and UC Santa Barbara lasted just three games. The Lions swept the Gauchos 3-0 (30-28, 30-22, 32-30) in their second match at the LMU Four Points Sheraton LAX Classic. Over the years, the Lions and Gauchos have enjoyed a storied volleyball rivalry, splitting the annual series 3-3 over the last six seasons. All of those matches have gone at least four games and last year the Gauchos took the 3-2 decision. But Saturday was a different story, as Heather Hughes was once again the catalyst for LMU. She hit .380 on the match, tallying 23 kills and 11 digs in the three games to lead the Lions to their second straight 3-0 win. LMU had topped Northwestern 3-0 in the opening night of the tournament.

Senior Heather Hughes tallied 52 kills in 10 games against some of the nation's top competition last weekend at the USC Trojan Invitational. For her efforts, Hughes took home an all-tournament selection. In addition to her 5.20 kills per game, Hughes added 33 digs and five service aces.

With 133 career service aces, Heather Hughes needs just four more to tie Leslie Wolford's (1985-88) second-place mark of 137. Kim Blankinship (1993-96) holds the LMU record with 157 career service aces.

LMU Head Coach Steve Stratos has posted 17 winning seasons in his 17 years at the helm of the Lion volleyball program. Stratos enters his 18th season with a career mark of 343-165, which ranks him among the nation's top-50 active Division I coaches in winning percentage.