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Volleyball Faces Rival Santa Clara

Oct. 8, 2007

WHAT'S ON SCHEDULE: The Gaels will only face one opponent in the upcoming weekend, as they continue West Coast Conference action against the Santa Clara Broncos on Friday night at 6:05 PM. Saint Mary's will face the Broncos in Santa Clara, CA at the Leavey Center. The Gaels are currently 2-2 in conference play, while Santa Clara has tabbed a 3-1 record.

LAST WEEK'S RECAP: Saint Mary's ran into some tough competition over the weekend, as the Gaels were defeated by both San Francisco and San Diego. In the first appearance of the weekend, Saint Mary's was swept 3-0 by the San Francisco Dons, losing their first match of WCC play. The Gaels continued on the road as they traveled to No. 14 San Diego. Saint Mary's kept pressure on the ranked Toreros throughout the match, forcing San Diego to a deciding fifth game. The Gaels lost steam in the final game, as San Diego squeaked out the win, 15-11. Following the weekend the Gaels are 2-2 in conference, placing them fifth in the WCC.

WHO'S HOT?: Freshman Shannon Lowell has ignited for the Gaels since the start of conference play. Over the past four matches, Lowell has posted 2.27 kills and 2.07 blocks per game. Against USF, Lowell provided a bright spot for the Gaels, recording a team-high 11 kills, with an impressive .421 hitting percentage. The middle blocker also chipped in four blocks in the match. Lowell stepped up her game against No. 14 San Diego, as she posted a double-double with 12 kills and 10 block assists. The freshman tops the WCC in blocks per game, with 2.07 (in WCC play), while also ranking 30th in the NCAA Division I (as of 09/30/07).

SCOUTING THE BRONCOS: Santa Clara is currently second in the WCC with a 3-1 record and is 11-8 overall on the season. The Broncos captured a huge win against No. 14 San Diego last weekend, defeating the Toreros in four games. Outside hitters Brittany Lowell and Lindsay Evans tabbed 16 kills apiece in the win, with .270 and .375 hitting percentages respectively. The Bronco offense is led by senior Crystal Matich, who ranks 17th in the WCC in assists per game with 12.80. After coming off a huge win against No. 14 San Diego, the Broncos were swept by San Francisco in their next WCC match-up. The Dons defeated the Broncos, 30-23, 30-26, 30-25. Santa Clara was led by Brittany Lowell and Krista Kelley with 10 kills apiece.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS SANTA CLARA: The Gaels have faced the Broncos 42 times in program history, recording a 9-33 record. In 2006, Saint Mary's split their two matches against the Broncos, defeating Santa Clara at home and losing on the road. The rivalry between the two teams has grown in recent years, with the Gaels posting a 4-4 record over the past four years.

SMC RANKS AMONG THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY: As of September 30 the Gaels rank 10th 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 11th and 22nd in blocks and kills per game respectively. Shannon Lowell has also played a major role in adding to the Gaels blocking numbers, ranking 31st in the NCAA Division I in blocks per game.

BURTON AND LOWELL TOP WCC IN BLOCKS: Sophomore middle blocker Megan Burton ranks first in the West Coast Conference in blocks per game (overall), while freshman Shannon Lowell ranks first in WCC play. Burton posts a 1.57 bocks per game average, with 88 total blocks on the year. Joining Burton for the block party is freshman Shannon Lowell. Lowell has tabbed 2.07 blocks per game in WCC play, totaling 31 in four matches.

OTHER GAELS WHO RANK IN TOP-10 IN WCC PLAY: Megan York, sixth (4.07 kills per game), Alita Fisher, third (4.60 digs per game), Kapua Kamana'o, eighth (8.77 assists per game), and Christy Payne, fourth and 10th (0.55 aces and 5.73 assists per game).

YORK RECORDS 11 DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Megan York has tallied a total of 11 double-doubles in 16 matches. Her 11 double-doubles rank second in the WCC behind 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 returns home to continue WCC play in the Bay Area, hosting Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. The Gaels will face the LMU Lions first, on Thursday, October 18th at 7:00 PM in McKeon Pavilion. Saint Mary's will then host the Pepperdine Waves in a Saturday matinee in McKeon Pavilion at 1:00 PM.