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Volleyball Looks to Carry Momentum Into Weekend

Oct. 22, 2007

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WHAT'S ON SCHEDULE: Gael volleyball begins the second round of West Coast Conference play this weekend, as they travel to the Pacific Northwest to play Portland and Gonzaga. Saint Mary's will first face the Portland Pilots on the road, on Thursday October 25 at 7:00 PM. The team will continue their travels up to Spokanne, WA where they face the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday October 27 at 5:00 PM. In the team's first meeting against these two squads the Gaels came out on top with a 2-0 record.

LAST WEEK'S RECAP: Saint Mary's hosted Southern California schools, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine, last weekend. The Gaels fell to the visiting LMU Lions in three games, but bounced back to defeat the Waves in a five game-thriller. Freshman Megan York tallied a career-high in the Gaels win, with 28 kills and 17 digs. Alita Fisher turned in a stellar performance for the Gaels, scooping up 19 and 31 digs against LMU and Pepperdine respectively.

WHO'S HOT?: Sophomore Alita Fisher had an impressive weekend for the Gaels, tallying a total of 60 digs on two matches. In Saint Mary's loss to Loyola Marmount, Fisher posted a team-high 19 digs, averaging 6.33 digs per game. Fisher played a crucial role against the Pepperdine Waves, keeping rallies alive, and leading her team to a five-game win. The sophomore libero posted 31 digs in the match, averaging 6.2 digs per game. Fisher currently ranks second overall in the WCC and first in conference play, with 4.67 and 5.08 digs per game respectively.

SCOUTING THE PILOTS: The Pilots have posted a 7-13 record on the year and are currently 0-7 in conference play, placing them last in the WCC. Portland is led by Ashley Grayson, who is averaging 3.08 kills and 0.92 blocks per game. Joining Grayson is Jennifer Sheedy, posting 3.0 kills per game with a .300 hitting efficiency. Sheedy currently ranks 11th in the conference in hitting percentage. Kara Pein sets the stage for the Pilots, averaging 10.3 assists per game, and guiding her team to a .169 attack percentage on the year.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS PORTLAND: The Gaels are 21-20 all time versus the Pilots. Saint Mary's gained the record advantage after their last match versus Portland. In the first round of WCC play the Gaels defeated the Pilots in four games, 30-24, 28-30, 30-26, 30-26. The Pilots could not stop junior Taylor Groess, as the outside hitter posted 19 kills with a .326 hitting efficiency. Freshman Megan York also hurt the Pilots, totaling 18 kills and 15 digs. Jennifer Sheedy led the way for the Pilots, tallying 19 kills and five blocks in the match.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Gonzaga is currently 15-8 on the season and 3-4 in conference play, placing them in a tie for fourth in the WCC. The Bulldogs are led by Elaina Renius' 3.25 kills per game, tabbing a .297 hitting percentage on the year (ranking her 10th in the WCC). Renius has also added 81 total blocks on the year. Senior Becky Jones has recorded 3.23 kills and 3.50 digs per game, posting 12 double-doubles on the year. Senior setter Heather Dunn ranks fourth in the WCC in assists per game with 12.20, while also recording 13 double-doubles this season.

SAINT MARY'S VERSUS GONZAGA: The Gaels are currently 20-21 when facing the Bulldogs. In Saint Mary's last appearance against Gonzaga, the Gaels swept the Bulldogs 33-31, 30-15, 30-25. Saint Mary's middle blockers, Shannon Lowell and Megan Burton, came up big for the Gaels, posting 10 and nine blocks respectively. Megan York led all players with 15 kills, and chipped in 10 digs.

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 sponsored the team by pledging money per dig by Saint Mary's in their selected match, versus Loyola Marymount on October 18, or making a flat donation. The money raised by each institution goes directly to the Susan G. 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. The Gaels scooped up 60 digs in their designated "Dig for the Cure," raising $850 thus far. Donations will continue to be accepted throughout the month of October.

SMC RANKS AMONG THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY: As of October 14 the Gaels ranked 10th in blocks per game in the NCAA Division I. The division includes 325 teams from around the country. Megan Burton and Shannon Lowell are also among the best in the nation, individually ranking 12th and 22nd in blocks per game. Outside hitter Megan York has also played a major role in adding to the Gaels national numbers, ranking 35th in the NCAA Division I in kills per game.

FISHER DIGS HER WAY TO THE TOP: Sophomore libero Alita Fisher currently ranks first in the WCC in digs per game in conference play. Fisher is currently tied for first with 5.08 digs per game. In the Gaels last appearance the sophomore libero scooped up 31 digs in a five-game match, averaging 6.2 digs per game.

OTHER GAELS WHO RANK IN TOP-10 IN WCC PLAY: Megan York, second (4.77 kills and 5.31 points per game), Taylor Groess, 15th (3.00 kills per game), Nikki Gonzales, fifth (.39 aces per game), Alita Fisher, 10th (.31 aces per game), Shannon Lowell, (1.69 blocks per game), Megan Burton, fourth (1.22 blocks per game), and Kapua Kamana'o, sixth (9.50 assists per game).

YORK RECORDS 12 DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Megan York has tallied a total of 13 double-doubles in 19 matches. Her 13 double-doubles rank second in the WCC behind LMU's senior Heather Hughes. Her last double-double came against the Pepperdine Waves when the freshman totaled a career-high 28 kills and 17 digs.

YOUNG GAELS LEAD THE WAY: Freshmen Megan York and Shannon Lowell are key components of this season's squad. York has posted 13 double-doubles as a freshman and ranks second in the WCC play in kills per game. Middle blocker Shannon Lowell has ignited for the Gaels in WCC play, placing second in the conference in blocks per game. Lowell averages 1.69 blocks per game in conference play, and has also tallied 158 kills on the season.

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.

2006 WCC LEADERS: In 2006 the Gaels finished the season first in the conference in blocks per game. Saint Mary's averaged an impressive 3.25 block per game average, and had a number of players rank at the top of the WCC in blocks per game. As a sophomore Brittany Barker led the way for the Gaels, tallying 1.59 blocks per game, ranking her first in the WCC. Megan Burton recorded 1.02 blocks per game and was named to the WCC All Freshman Team for her 2006 performance.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE GAELS: Saint Mary's will return home next weekend, facing No. 12 ranked San Diego and Bay Area Rival San Francisco. The Gaels will face the Toreros first on Thursday, November 1 at 7:00 PM and the Dons second on Saturday, November 3 at 7:00 PM.