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Volleyball Hits the Road to Continue WCC Action

Oct. 1, 2007

WHAT'S ON SCHEDULE: The Gaels will continue West Coast Conference play this weekend, playing San Francisco and San Diego. Saint Mary's will first travel across the Bay to face San Francisco on October 4 at 7:00 PM. Next on the schedule for the Gaels is a road trip down to San Diego. They will face the Toreros on October 6 at 1:00 PM in the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

LAST WEEK'S RECAP: Saint Mary's extended their win-streak to five straight, defeating their first two WCC competitors of the year last weekend. On Thursday night the Gaels defeated Gonzaga in three straight games, 33-31, 30-15, 30-25, giving them their first WCC win of the year. Saint Mary's then faced Portland on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Pilots, 30-24, 28-30, 30-26, 30-26. The two wins give the Gaels a 10-4 record on the year, one victory shy of tying their wins from the 2006 season.

WHO'S HOT?: Freshman Shannon Lowell was a key component in the Gaels win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs on September 27. Lowell posted seven kills and a career-high ten blocks in the match. Lowell attacked for a .333 hitting efficiency in the match and scooped up three digs. The freshman played a major role in the Gaels blocking performance, leading the Gaels to 21 blocks in the match, a 7.0 block per game average.

SCOUTING THE DONS: San Francisco has an 11-6 record on the season and is 0-1 in WCC play. Under new head coach, Gilad Doron, a number of Dons have flourished this season. Kristin Hasselberg leads San Francisco in the kill department, recording 3.92 kills per game. Junior middle blocker Carly Babin ranks among the best in the WCC in blocks, tabbing 1.35 per game, while also adding 3.28 kills per game with a .350 hitting percentage. The Dons lost their first WCC match of the year against No. 14 San Diego last weekend.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS USF: The Gaels have faced the Dons 44 times in program history, recording a 26-18 record. In 2006 Saint Mary's split their two matches against the Dons, defeating San Francisco at home and losing on the road. The rivalry between the two teams has grown in recent years, with the Gaels posting a 5-3 record over the past four years.

SCOUTING THE TOREROS: The defending WCC champions, No. 14 San Diego, are having another stellar year in 2007. The Toreros have been ranked within the Top-20 by the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Poll throughout the entire 2007 season. Senior Laurel Abrahmson leads the Toreros, being named WCC Player of the Week twice this season. Abrahmson leads the WCC in hitting percentage, with a.389 mark on the year, while also adding 3.84 kills per game. Outside hitter, Amy DeGroot, is another member of the Toreros named WCC Player of the Week. DeGroot has recorded 4.16 kills and 2.73 digs per game. San Diego has posted an 11-4 record on the season, 1-0 in WCC play.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS SAN DIEGO: The Gaels hold a 6-36 record against the Toreros in the history of the program. Saint Mary's lost two matches to the defending WCC Champions last season. The last time the Gaels defeated the Toreros was in 2005, when they defeated San Diego in five games in McKeon Pavilion.

SMC RANKS AMONG THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY: As of September 23 the Gaels rank 15th in blocks per game in the NCAA Division I. The division includes 325 teams from around the country. Megan Burton and Megan York are also among the best in the nation, individually ranking 20th in blocks and kills per game respectively.

BURTON TOPS WCC IN BLOCKS: Sophomore middle blocker Megan Burton ranks first in the West Coast Conference in blocks per game. Burton posts a 1.56 bocks per game average, with 70 total blocks. Burton ranks fourth in hitting percentage on the year, recording a team-high .351 hitting efficiency during the preseason.

YORK RANKS AMONG THE BEST IN WCC: As a freshman Megan York is among the best in the WCC, placing second in kills per game with 4.82, and second in points per game with 5.54. York's versatility is also demonstrated in the defensive category, placing seventh in digs per game, with 3.73.

OTHER GAELS WHO RANK IN TOP-10 IN WCC: Alita Fisher, third (4.43 digs per game), Brittany Barker, fifth (1.15 blocks per game), Taylor Groess, ninth (3.57 kills per game), Kapua Kamana'o, seventh (9.60 assists per game), and Christy Payne, sixth (0.41 aces per game).

YORK RECORDS TEN DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Megan York has tallied a total of 10 double-doubles in 14 matches. Her 10 double-doubles ranks her tied for first in the WCC with LMU's senior Heather Hughes.

FISHER ETCHES NAME IN NCAA RECORD BOOKS: Sophomore libero, Alita Fisher, tallied 39 digs (13 digs per game), in the Gaels three game win over Fresno State. Fisher's performance ranks her third in NCAA record books for digs in a three game match. Two other players share the position with Fisher, while the number one spot is held by Sydney Donahue with 50 digs. Fisher shattered her previous personal best, 28 digs, which came in a five-game match versus Pepperdine in 2006. Fisher was two digs shy of capturing the individual record for most digs in a match, which is held by Julie Sinclair with 41 digs in 1989.

GAELS DIG FOR THE CURE: This fall, West Coast Conference women's volleyball teams won't be playing just for wins, but helping in the fight against breast cancer. All eight WCC schools are participating in the "Dig for the Cure" program to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Gael fans can sponsor the team by pledging money per dig by Saint Mary's in their selected match, versus Loyola Marymount on October 18, or can make a flat donation. The money raised by each institution goes directly to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. "The WCC is proud to participate in the `Dig for the Cure' program," said WCC Commissioner Michael Gilleran. "This is an excellent opportunity for our student-athletes to use their talents to help a very worthy cause." The Dig for the Cure campaign was originally started in 2003 by Charlotte Head Coach Lisa Marston, and has spread to numerous other volleyball programs across the country since.

BURTON RETURNS AS THE ONLY PLAYER TO RECEIVE WCC HONORS IN 2006: Megan Burton returns to the Gaels after a stellar freshman season. Burton was named to the WCC All-Freshmen team in 2006 and will continue to display her talents in 2007. In 2006 she ended the season with 115 kills (.233 hitting percentage), 93 total blocks, and 15 aces. Burton is not only valuable for her court skills, but is also highly praised by Browning for her leadership and work ethic.

BARKER ENDS 2006 SEASON WCC BLOCK LEADER: Junior Brittany Barker led the WCC in blocks per game with 1.59 in 2006. In only 80 conference games Barker accumulated 111 block assists and 16 solo blocks. Barker also led the team in blocks throughout the season, ending the year with 127 total blocks. This is the second straight year that a member of the Gaels led the conference in blocks; graduated senior Christina Kirk held the honor in 2005.

GAELS FINISH WCC AS LEADER IN BLOCKS FOR THE FIFTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR: Since the 2002 season, Saint Mary's volleyball has made it a habit to lead the WCC in blocks per game. Each year the numbers have improved. In 2002, the Gaels led with 2.86 blocks per game, while in 2003 and 2004 the Gaels ended with 3.12 and 3.30 respectively. In 2005 and 2006 the Gaels made a leap up to 3.67 and 3.82 blocks per game.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE GAELS: Saint Mary's continue WCC play in the Bay Area, facing Santa Clara on October 12 at 6:05 PM. The Gaels will play at the Leavey Center in Santa Clara, CA.