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Battle the Bay

Oct. 11, 2006

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BRIEFLY...
The Lions, currently second in the West Coast Conference standings after last weekend's rout of then-12th-ranked Santa Clara, return home this week to host Saint Mary's and San Francisco in conference play. The Lions are looking for their 200th WCC victory of all-time, as the program has racked up 199 wins in WCC play over the years. LMU and Saint Mary's will battle Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Gersten Pavilion. The Lions will then host the Dons Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Both matches will be carried on Gametracker and Lions' All-Access at www.LMULions.com.

THIS WEEK'S MATCH-UPS...
LMU: The Lions enter the week 3-1 in conference play after a 1-1 road split last week. LMU started the road swing by sweeping the then-12th-ranked Broncos at Santa Clara Thursday. But the Lions dropped a 3-1 televised battle Saturday at San Diego. Despite Saturday's loss, the Lions have still won 13 of their last 15 matches and sit in sole possession of second place in the WCC standings. Junior Christianna Reneau led the Lions on the week, averaging 3.86 kills and 3.00 digs per game. The Lions hold a combined 67-15 advantage in the all-time series against Saint Mary's and San Francisco.

SAINT MARY'S: Like the Lions, the Gaels also found success against Santa Clara, topping the Broncos 3-2 two weeks ago when they were in the nation's top-10. Since then, the Gaels have split in WCC contests, now sitting at 2-1 and in third place in the standings. Last weekend, Saint Mary's swept travel partner San Francisco in the two teams' only match of the week. Christina Kirk was the only Gael who reached double-double digits in kills, posting 13 along with seven digs and a .323 hitting percentage. As a team, Saint Mary's hit .324 for the match, while holding the Dons to hit .100 with 10 team blocks including five each from Brittany Barker and Megan Burton. The Gaels now lead the WCC in blocks, averaging 2.91 per game. LMU is 31-9 all-time against Saint Mary's.

SAN FRANCISCO: Despite holding the best overall record in the WCC at 16-4, the Dons are still looking for their first WCC win. After posting a program-best 16-1 start to the season, the Dons have lost three straight WCC match-ups. In last week's 3-0 loss to Saint Mary's, Kristen Hasselberg, Alix Gombos, and Brynn Maurer all posted double-digit kills. LMU is 36-6 all-time against USF.

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 third straight week, LMU is back, earning votes in the poll after stringing together 10 straight victories during September. The Lions enter the week having won 13 of their last 15 matches. This week, the Lions are up to 23 votes after sweeping then 12th-ranked Santa Clara 3-0 last week on the road.

LMU IN THE NATIONAL STATS...
The Lions have four top-15 rankings in the current NCAA stat categories. As a team, LMU ranks fifth in kills (17.06/game), 14th in assists (15.21/game), and 15th in digs (18.89/game). Junior Heather Hughes ranks 10th in service aces, averaging 0.67 a game.

HUGHES NEARS KILL MILESTONE...
Heather Hughes is poised to join an elite club any day now. The junior needs just 31 kills to reach the 1,000 career kill milestone. Hughes will be the ninth Lion to reach the 1,000 mark.

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.

HUGHES NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE MONTH...
Heather Hughes led the Lions to a 12-2 record in September, including a perfect 2-0 start to WCC action. For her efforts, the WCC named her its first Player of the Month of the 2006 season. 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. 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 WCC 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-