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Pair of Top-25 Teams Await Lions

Oct. 3, 2006

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BRIEFLY...
West Coast Conference action continues for the Lions, who now face their toughest week of the regular season. A pair of top-25 teams in 12th-ranked Santa Clara (11-3, 1-1 WCC) and 22nd-ranked San Diego (12-4, 2-0 WCC) await LMU (14-3, 2-0 WCC) on the road this Thursday and Saturday. Saturday's 1:00 p.m. match will be televised live on Fox Sports Net West. The Lions enter the week as one of three league teams to start the WCC season 2-0.

THE WEEK AHEAD...
Not only does the week ahead bring tough competition for the Lions, it's the most challenging travel week as well. After facing 12th-ranked Santa Clara on Thursday at 7:00 p.m., the Lions must travel south to 22nd-ranked San Diego for the Saturday 1:00 p.m. match. LMU holds a combined all-time record of 62-38 against the two teams, both of which have risen to the top of the WCC in recent years. Both matches will be carried on Gametracker at www.LMULions.com. The Lions enter the week having won six straight games after two 3-0 sweeps last week.

TV STARS...
Saturday's WCC volleyball match between Loyola Marymount and 22nd-ranked San Diego will be televised live on Fox Sports Net West. The Lions are asking fans to join them in San Diego's Jenny Craig Pavilion for the 1:00 p.m. televised match. The Saturday match-up will be the fourth WCC contest of the season for both teams. Both programs are currently 2-0 in conference play. Lion fans are encouraged to make Jenny Craig Pavilion a sea of crimson by wearing crimson Lion gear. LMU Hall of Famer Paul Sunderland '75 and Mike Dodd will have the call Saturday for FSN West. Sunderland was the Los Angeles Lakers' play-by-play announcer from 2002-2005, while the Manhattan Beach, Calif. native Dodd was a 1996 Olympic volleyball silver medalist.

AMONG THE NATION'S BEST...
The Lions opened the 2006 season among the nation's best, earning votes in the AVCA preseason top-25 poll. And for the second straight week, LMU is back, earning seven votes in the poll after stringing together 10 straight victories during September. The Lions enter the week having won 12 of their last 13 matches.

LMU IN THE NATIONAL STATS...
The Lions have five top-30 rankings in the current NCAA stat categories. As a team, LMU ranks fifth in kills (17.1/game), ninth in digs (19.14/game), 17th in assists (15.20/game), and 26th in winning percentage (.824). Junior Heather Hughes ranks 8th in service aces, averaging 0.69 a game.

THIS WEEK'S MATCH-UPS...
LMU: The Lions enter the tough week after playing three matches in five days last week. After dropping a tough 3-2 road battle at UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday, the Lions hosted Portland and Gonzaga to start WCC play Thursday and Saturday. The Lions swept both of those matches 3-0 and are now one of three teams in the conference sitting at a perfect 2-0 league record. Junior Heather Hughes led the Lions last week, tallying 53 kills, 40 digs, 15 assists, and five aces. She hit .351 over the Lions' 11 games played while posting double-double numbers in each of the three matches.

#12 SANTA CLARA: The Broncos dropped out of the nation's top-10 for the first time this season after splitting in WCC action last weekend. Santa Clara fell to Saint Mary's 3-2 on the road before topping San Francisco. The Broncos had been ranked as high as fourth in the nation, but enter the week's matches as the 12th-ranked team. Santa Clara is just 1-0 at home this season, playing its other 13 matches on the road or on neutral courts. Anna Cmaylo leads the conference in hitting percentage this week, hitting .474 on the season. The Lions are 26-23 all-time against the Broncos.

#22 SAN DIEGO: Like the Lions, the Toreros sit at a perfect 2-0 in WCC play after topping both Saint Mary's and San Francisco 3-1. Those wins improved USD to its No. 22 ranking in the national poll. Senior outside hitter Kristen Carlson was named the WCC Player of the Week for the second time in the last three weeks. Carlson posted 48 kills and 36 digs with two double-doubles on the week. The Lions are 36-15 all-time against the Toreros.

LAST TIME'S TANGO WITH THE TOREROS...
In the last meeting between LMU and USD, the Lions snapped USD's 16-match home winning streak with a 3-2 (19-30, 30-19, 26-30, 30-15, 15-9) win in WCC action on October 28, 2005. The Toreros had not fallen on their home court in over a year. Then-rookie Emily Day recorded 15 kills and hit .394 to help the Lions to the win over then-20th-ranked San Diego. The win gave the Lions a split with USD on the season, as the Toreros topped LMU in five in Gersten Pavilion earlier in the season.

SEPTEMBER STREAKING...
The Lions' September winning steak of 10 straight victories was the program's longest winning streak since the LMU record of 16 was set back in 1996. That season, the Lions won 16 straight en route to the NCAA Championship's Sweet Sixteen.

SWEET HOME SAN DIEGO...
A trio of Lions have ties to San Diego and will experience a homecoming of sorts when the Lions play their televised WCC match there on Saturday. Junior Heather Hughes spent her high school career at Fallbrook High School, where she was a three-time All-Avocado League selection. Assistant Coach Heather Collins also had a standout career in the area, playing four seasons at Poway High School. There, she led her team to three CIF 3-A championships and was CIF Player of the Year following her senior season in 1990. Finally, LMU Head Coach Steve Stratos calls San Diego State his alma mater. Stratos earned a bachelor of arts degree in social sciences with an emphasis in U.S. history in 1975. He also minored in English while an Aztec.

HUGE MONTH FOR HUGHES...
Heather Hughes led the Lions to a 12-2 record in September, including a perfect 2-0 start to WCC action. Hughes tallied 218 kills (4.45/gm), 164 digs (3.35/gm), 56 assists (1.14/gm), and 38 service aces (.78/gm). She totaled 267.5 points during the month of September. Her service ace mark ranked her as high as sixth in the nation in aces during the month. Hughes lead the WCC in double-doubles, posting 11 through September 30th. She also ranked in the WCC's top-6 in both kills and digs. During September, Hughes was named the WCC Player of the Week (9/11), the LMU Four Points Sheraton-LAX Classic MVP, and the Miami Hurricane Invitational MVP.

NOT SO NEUTRAL...
With neutral court wins over Jacksonville and Flordia A&M in Miami September 15-16, the Lions extended their streak of neutral court victories. Dating back to 2005, the Lions have accumulated a 8-0 record on neutral courts.

HUGHES NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK...
LMU's Heather Hughes was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week for the week of September 11th. Hughes led the Lions to a 4-0 week and the 2006 LMU Four Points Sheraton-LAX Classic title. The Lions' junior took home the Classic's MVP award after her all-around play led LMU to the championship. The Lions defeated all three opponents (UC Irvine, SMU, and Nevada) in tournament play, dropping only one game all weekend. LMU also swept Cal State Fullerton Tuesday night in Gersten Pavilion. On the week, Hughes finished with 61 kills (4.69 per game) and 50 digs (3.85 per game), while hitting .343. Even more impressive was her tough serving, as Hughes tallied 12 aces in the Lions' four matches (13 games). The Fallbrook, Calif. native becomes the first Lion of the 2006 season to earn the weekly WCC selection. It was her third career selection.

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. This 2006 season, six of the eight WCC teams have earned votes in the AVCA top-25 coaches' poll.

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...
In 2005, 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. Among Division I active coaches, Stratos began 2006 ranking 37th by winning percentage (.679) and 58th by victories (324).

-GO LIONS-