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Volleyball Returns Home to Host Portland, Gonzaga

Oct. 18, 2006

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WHAT'S ON SCHEDULE: The Saint Mary's volleyball team returns to McKeon Pavilion for two matches this week. The Gaels will face Portland on Thursday, October 19 at 7:05 p.m. before facing Gonzaga on Saturday, October 21 at 1:05 p.m. The Gaels will conclude the first round of West Coast Conference play with these two matches.

WHO'S HOT: The Gaels' junior outside hitter Missie Stidham averaged 4.12 kills and 3.25 digs per game as the Gaels went 1-1 on a tough Southern California road swing. Stidham, helped the Gaels rally for a fifth game victory over LMU on Thursday, when she had 21 kills, 15 digs, two blocks and an ace. Against Pepperdine, Stidham recorded a team-high 12 kills and added 11 digs and two blocks for back-to-back double doubles over the weekend.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS PORTLAND: The Gaels are 19-19 all-time against the Pilots, but have won nine straight matches against Portland. Saint Mary's swept the season series a year ago, including a 3-1 victory at home.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS GONZAGA: The Gaels are 18-20 all-time against the Bulldogs, but have won six out of the last seven meetings. Saint Mary's beat the Bulldogs 3-0 last season at McKeon Pavilion.

BLOCK PARTY: Saint Mary's once again is atop the blocking battle in the West Coast Conference. After recording 29 blocks last week, including 21 against Loyola Marymount, the second highest match total in the WCC this season, the Gaels are now averaging 3.01 blocks per game. Their total ranks above San Francisco, who is averaging 2.82 blocks per game. With the 3.01 blocks per game, the Gaels broke into the top 30 in the nation, at the No. 30 spot, for blocks per game.

SAINT MARY'S MOVES UP IN RKPI: In the latest RKPI, Saint Mary's moved up to No. 39 in the nation and No. 11 in the Pacific Region. The Gaels rank above San Francisco and Loyola Marymount in the Pacific Region and are just behind Pepperdine.

BARKER LEADS WCC IN BLOCKS: Saint Mary's sophomore middle blocker Brittany Barker leads the conference in blocks per game, averaging 1.40. During conference play, Barker is averaging 1.45 blocks per game.

BIBLE ACES WCC: The Gaels' senior setter Mandy Bible has recorded 11 aces in five matches, averaging 0.55 aces per game, which leads the conference. Bible has recorded 22 aces on the year, which leads the team..

CAREER-HIGH FOR KIRK: Saint Mary's senior middle blocker/outside hitter Christina Kirk recorded a career-high 22 kills against No. 9 Santa Clara on Thursday, September 28. Kirk's previous career-high was set earlier this year against when she recorded 19 kills against UC Irvine.

LAST WEEK: Saint Mary's went 1-1 last week against Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. Against the Lions, the Gaels rallied to win the final two games and take home a 3-2 win. Missie Stidham led the Gaels with 21 kills and added 15 digs. Christina Kirk had 18 kills, 11 digs and seven blocks and Mandy Bible had 54 assists, 15 digs and three aces. As a team the Gaels recorded a season-high 21 blocks over five games. Defensively Cassandra Kolkka recorded 20 digs as libero.Against Pepperdine, the Gaels fell 3-0 in Malibu. Stidham and Kirk led the Gaels with 12 kills and Stidham added 11 digs. Taylor Groess added nine kills in the loss and Brittany Barker had six kills and five blocks.

ALUMNI PLAY AGAIN IN MCKEON: Saint Mary's called a list of former players and several supporters of the school to play in its second annual alumni match. The Gaels had another successful tournament as the team played against the 2006 squad. Former players such as Meg Herr (Hauser), Rachel Avilla, Lindsey Bogason, Leslie McKinley, Raechel Parker, Jill Parmele and Suzanne Sarkees made the trip back to McKeon Pavilion.

BIBLE BREAKS ALL-TIME ASSISTS RECORD: Saint Mary's senior setter Mandy Bible broke the school's all-time assist record after recording 110 assists this weekend. Bible now has 4,373 assists in just over three years in a Gael uniform. The senior setter from Santa Barbara, CA broke Tracie Hajdukovich's 15-year-old record. Bible also holds the all-time assists per game record, which stands at 12.73 per game.

THREE FRESHMEN JOIN THE ROSTER: Saint Mary's head coach Rob Browning added three freshmen to this year's team. The Gaels welcome Megan Burton, a 6-2 middle blocker from Kapolei, HI, Lauren Jaeckel, a 6-0 outside hitter from Littleton, CO, and Alita Fisher, a 5-9 libero from Lakewood, WA.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Saint Mary's volleyball team and staff finally returned to McKeon Pavilion to face Sacramento State on September 23. The Gaels spent the first four weeks of the season on the road, which included trips to Alabama and Nebraska.

SAINT MARY'S PICKED TO FINISH FOURTH IN WCC: The Gaels were picked to finish in fourth place in the WCC by the conference's coaches, released earlier this month. Saint Mary's finished fourth in conference last season with a 9-5 record. Santa Clara was picked to finish in first, receiving all eight votes after making it to the final four last season. Pepperdine was picked to finish second and San Diego was picked third. Following the Gaels, Loyola Marymount was picked fifth, San Francisco sixth, Gonzaga seventh and Portland was picked to finish eighth.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE GAELS: Saint Mary's hits the road once again when it travels to San Diego on Thursday, October 26 to face the Toreros at 7:05 p.m. before traveling to Santa Clara to take on the Broncos at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday, October 28.