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Toreros Aim to Lock-Up WCC Crown With a Pair of Home Matches

Nov. 6, 2006

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WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE: The 18-ranked University of San Diego women's volleyball team (20-5, 10-1 WCC) will look to lock-up winning the West Coast Conference Championship this week as they host a pair of Pacific Northwest WCC Foes. On Thursday, the Toreros will host Gonzaga University in the Jenny Craig Pavilion for a 7 p.m. match. On Saturday, San Diego welcomes the University of Portland for a 1 p.m. showdown.

LAST TIME OUT: USD recorded a 3-2 win against Loyola Marymount University on Thursday, then the Toreros saw their 10-match winning streak come to an end with a 3-1 loss to Pepperdine University on Saturday. In Thursday's win, Kristen Carlson racked up a season-high 34 kills to rank third in USD history for single-game kills, and she posted her 17th double-double of the season as she recorded 18 digs. Jessica Nyrop recorded a career-high 73 assists to rank in a tie for sixth in USD history for single-game assists, to help direct the San Diego offense to a .294 team attacking percentage. Christie Dawson also had a huge day for the Toreros as she recorded 18 kills on 36 attempts for a .417 attacking percentage. Laurel Abrahamson, the defending WCC Player of the Week, turned in yet another dominating performance as she had 17 kills on 33 attempts while only committing three attacking errors to post a .424 clip. On Saturday, the big three of Abrahamson, Dawson and Carlson all recorded double-digit kills. Dawson led all players with 17 kills on 37 attempts for a .324 attacking percentage. Carlson recorded 15 kills and 18 digs to post her 18th double-double of the season and Abrahamson recorded 10 kills on the afternoon for the Toreros. Jessica Nyrop recorded a match-best 51 assists in the loss.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Gonzaga enters the week with a 8-17 overall record and a 3-7 mark in the WCC after picking up a win over Pacific Northwest rival Portland this past week. San Diego leads the all-time series between the two programs at 28-9, including winning the earlier match-up this season in Spokane, Wash. Beck Jones leads the offensive attack for the Zags with her 3.79 kills per game average. The floor leader for the Bulldogs is Heather Dunn, who has a team-best 1,088 assists for a 11.22 assists per game average. The Zags are under the direction of fifth-year head coach Kip Yoshimura. During his tenure in Spokane, Yoshimura has recorded a 30-113 overall record.

SCOUTING THE PILOTS: Portland enters the week with a 8-15 overall record and a 1-9 mark in the WCC after being swept by Pacific Northwest rival Gonzaga this past week. The Toreros own the all-time series between the two schools at 31-7, including a three-game sweep in Portland earlier this season. The Pilots are led offensively by Nicole Thometz, who has a team-best 3.29 kills per game average and is third on the team in digs per game at 2.83. The floor leader for the Pilots is Kara Pein, who has a team-leading 10.41 assists per game average. Portland is under the direction of seventh-year head coach Doug Sparks. During his tenure in Portland, Sparks has posted an overall record of 63-129.

CARLSON NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE MONTH: The University of San Diego's senior outside hitter Kristen Carlson was named the West Coast Conference's women's volleyball Player of the Month, it was announced Thursday by the conference office. The senior from Purcellville, Va. helped lead USD to a perfect 7-0 record and a first-place standing in the WCC during the month of October. For the month, Carlson averaged 5.58 kills per game and 4.08 digs per game. She posted a .331 attack percentage and tallied seven double-doubles while also recording 19 blocks. In a win against Pepperdine University on Oct. 5th, Carlson recorded a month-high 26 kills, while also racking up 19 digs. She went over the 20 kills mark two other times during October, once against Saint Mary's College and once against the University of San Francisco. Carlson posted a month-best .447 attacking percentage against the University of Portland as she recorded 19 kills on 38 attempts and only committing two attacking errors.

MAGIC NUMBER DOWN TO TWO: The Toreros control their own destiny in terms of trying to win their second WCC championship in the past three years and fourth overall WCC crown. San Diego's magic number is now two. So if USD sweeps this week, then they will win the championship, or if USD wins one and Pepperdine University looses one then the Toreros will win the championship.

CAREER DAYS FOR NYROP AND CARLSON: Senior outside hitter Kristen Carlson and sophomore setter Jessica Nyrop both had record setting performances in Thursday's 3-2 win over Loyola Marymount. Carlson recorded 34 kills, which is one shy of her career-best, and places her third at USD in single-match kills. Nyrop recorded a career-best 71 assists, which places her in a tie for sixth at USD in single-match assists. On the season, Carlson is leading the conference in kills per game with a 5.22 average, and Nyrop also leads the WCC in assists per game with her 13.71 average.

MISS CONSISTENT: Junior middle hitter Laurel Abrahamson continues to be one of the most consistent forces, not only on the team, but in the WCC as well. Abrahamson leads the team in attacking percentage at .342, is third on the team in kills with 285 (3.10 kills per game) and also leads the team in blocks with 71. In conference action, Abrahamson leads the WCC in attacking percentage at .383.

DOUBLING IT UP: Senior outside hitter Kristen Carlson continues her dominance in her final collegiate season as she recorded her 18th double-double of the season. Carlson not only leads the team in kills with 5.22 per game, but also leads the team in digs per game with an average of 3.57.

THE POLLS: The University of San Diego women's volleyball team is down three spots in the latest CSTV/AVCA top-25 poll to No. 18 after posting a 3-2 win over Loyola Marymount this past Thursday and a 3-1 loss to Pepperdine this past Saturday in West Coast Conference action. This marks the seventh consecutive week the Toreros have been ranked in the top-25.

THREE-HEADED MONSTER: For 11 consecutive matches, the big three of Laurel Abrahamson, Kristen Carlson and Christie Dawson all recorded double-digit kills in the same match. These three make it difficult on opposing defenses to focus on one specific attacker, because there are two more who can hurt them. Carlson leads the three with her conference-leading 5.22 kills per game, followed by Dawson who is averaging 3.99 kills per game and Abrahamson is averaging 3.10 kills per game.

LIGHTS, CAMERA ACTION: All USD home matches, as well as select road matches, will be streamed live via video on the athletics department website. Fans can watch all the action live from the comfort of their home by logging onto usdtoreros.com. Once on the home page, click the LIVE button on the top right of the page. This is a subscription service that will give you access to live video events of USD athletic teams, coaching interviews and much more. The cost for this service will be $6.95 per month or a yearly subscription can be purchased for $49.95.

COACHING CHANGE: The Toreros are under the direction of a new but familiar face. Brent Hilliard, USD's top assistant for the past five seasons, has been moved to interim head coach. Head coach Jennifer Petrie will be taking the semester off to spend time with her new born son Charles, her two-year old daughter Jane, as well as time with her husband Mark. Petrie, who just completed her seventh year, will return to her head coaching position for the 2007 season. Hilliard brings a wealth of volleyball experience to the head coaching position as he has won at the highest levels of volleyball. During his tenure at USD, the Toreros have advanced to the NCAA Tournament all five seasons with a program-best Sweet 16 appearance in 2004. Hilliard was a catalyst for the 1991 Long Beach State men's volleyball national championship team en route to earning the NCAA Player of the Year award. In 1992, Hilliard was a member of the bronze medal winning U.S. Olympic team, and one year later, he helped the U.S. earn a silver medal at the Pan American Games. Hilliard continued his volleyball career as a professional in Europe from 1995-1998, playing two seasons in Belgium and one season in the Netherlands. In 1996, Hilliard and the Maasiek Volleyball club from Belgium won the country's championship and competed in the European Champions League.

TOREROS PICKED TO FINISH THIRD IN WCC: The University of San Diego was tabbed to finish third in the WCC, according to a preseason poll conducted by the conference head coaches. Santa Clara University was picked as the unanimous favorite to repeat as West Coast Conference champions in 2006. The Broncos racked up 64 points, receiving all eight first place votes to sweep the poll. Pepperdine University was picked to finish second with 55 points. San Diego was tapped for third place with 45 points, while Saint Mary's College (36) nudged past Loyola Marymount University (35) for fourth. The University of San Francisco (27), Gonzaga University (17) and the University of Portland (9) took the sixth through eighth spots, respectively.