Nov. 19, 2007
WHAT'S ON SCHEDULE: Saint Mary's volleyball will finish their 2007 regular season in Stockton, CA. The Gaels will compete in the Pacific Tournament, where they will face Cincinnati in their first match of the tournament. Saint Mary's plays the Cincinnati Bearcats in the opening match of the tournament, on Friday, November 23 at 5:00 PM. The Gaels last regular season appearance will take place on November 24 against the winner of Pacific and Fresno State, in the final match of the tournament.
LAST WEEK'S RECAP: The Gaels went 0-2 over the weekend, as they fell to Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount on the road. In Saint Mary's first match in Southern California the Gaels were swept by the Pepperdine Waves, 30-26, 30-27, 30-25. Against the Loyola Marymount Lions the Gaels were defeated in four games, 30-26, 23-30, 30-27, 30-25. Freshman Megan York recorded 30 kills and 24 digs over the weekend, while Taylor Groess added 25 kills and seven blocks. With the two losses the Gaels finish West Coast Conference play with a 6-8 record. The 6-8 finish places Saint Mary's tied for fifth in the WCC, as Santa Clara and San Diego tied for first, Pepperdine placed third, and LMU came up with fourth.
SCOUTING THE BEARCATS: Cincinnati has recorded an 18-11 record this season, while posting a 9-5 record in conference. The Bearcats starting roster includes Big East Freshman of the Year Stephanie Niemer. Niemer has posted impressive numbers in her freshman campaign, ranking second on the team in kills per game (3.62) and first in aces per game (0.52). The Kentucky native has also recorded 1.12 digs and 0.44 blocks per game this season. The Bearcats are led in the kill department by Jessie Nevitt, averaging team-highs with 3.71 kills and 1.38 blocks per game, while posting a .339 hitting percentage. The redshirt junior has accomplished many accolades, including three All-Big East First team selections, AVCA Honorable Mention All-American in 2005, and 2005 Big East Rookie of the Year. The Cincinnati offense is directed by Annie Fesl, who has recorded 1,365 assists this season, averaging 13.12 assists per game. The freshman setter also ranks second on the team in digs per game with 1.91, and fourth in blocks per game with .061.
SMC VERSUS CINCINNATI: Friday's match marks the first time the two teams have faced each other in program history.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS: Pacific currently holds a 16-9 overall record and finished 9-7 in the Big West Conference. Johanna Hilbers leads the Tigers with 3.40 kills per game, while Alexa Anderson has posed 3.35 kills per game. Pacific's biggest win of the 2007 season came against #20 Cal Poly during Big West Conference play. The Tigers won the match in four games, 14-30, 38-36, 30-27, 30-26. After finishing seventh in the Big West in 2006, second-year head coach, Charlie Wade, has turned things around for the Tigers. The 9-7 finish in the Big West improved Pacific's finish to four place, behind Cal Poly, Long Beach State, and UC Irvine.
SMC VERSUS PACIFIC: The Gaels have faced the Tigers four times in program history, while posting a 1-3 record. In the last match up between the two teams. Saint Mary's came out on top, defeating Pacific in a five-game thriller during the Pacific Bankers Tournament in 2005.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Fresno State finished Western Athletics Conference play with a 3-13 record, placing them seventh overall. Two members of the Bulldog squad were given all-conference honors, as senior Alish McKee was named to the Second Team All-WAC and freshman Tairyn Rasmussen was named to the all-freshman team. McKee is averaging 3.16 kills per game for the Bulldogs, while also adding 0.73 blocks per game. Rasmussen has recorded 2.31 kills per game, while picking up 1.15 dig per game. Fresno State's offense is led by Kasey Van Grouw and Tiffany Hess, as they have posted 6.59 and 8.05 assists per game respectively. The Bulldog defense is orchestrated by Lisa Gera, tallying a team-high 5.13 digs per game this season.
SMC VERSUS FRESNO STATE: The Gaels are 1-6 all-time versus Fresno State, with their first and only win coming earlier this season when Saint Mary's defeated the Bulldogs 30-23, 30-21, 30-22. Alita Fisher tallied a career-high in the win, scooping up 33 digs in three games for an 11 dig per game average. The Gaels were led by Megan York's 20 kills and nine digs, while Fresno State's Angela Wiggins totaled a team-high eight kills.
SMC BLOCK PARTY: In the Gaels win over the Santa Clara Broncos, each front-row player recorded at least two blocks. Leading the way was junior Brittany Barker, recording a match-high 10 blocks, including one solo. Lauren Jaeckel and Megan York posted nine and eight blocks respectively, while Shannon Lowell added five. Rounding out the blocking was freshman setter K apua Kamana'o with three, and outside hitter Taylor Groess with two. As a team the Gaels recorded 21 blocks in the match, while the Broncos only recorded eight. The Gaels stellar defense kept Santa Clara's hitting percentage down, as they posted a .208 hitting efficiency as a team.
ACE FACTOR: The Gaels recorded a season-high 16 aces as a team on October 25th against the Portland Pi lots. Junior Nikki Gonzales recorded a career-high seven aces in the four-game match, while sophomore Alita Fisher added five. Kelly Huston tabbed two aces for the Gaels, while Megan York and Taylor Groess tabbed one apiece. The 16 aces helped lead the Gaels to a 3-1 win over Portland. The Gaels were just two aces shy of breaking the school record of 18 aces by the Gaels versus Hofstra in 1995. Gonzales was only one ace shy of recording the most aces in a match by an individual.
OTHER GAELS WHO RANK IN TOP-10 IN WCC PLAY: Megan York, sixth and 9th (4.25 kills and 3.28 digs per game), Nikki Gonzales, second (.42 aces per game), Alita Fisher, fifth (4.34 digs per game and 0.36 aces per game), Shannon Lowell, second, (1.45 blocks per game), and Kapua Kamana'o, sixth (11.16 assists per game).
YORK RECORDS 18 DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Megan York has tallied a total of 18 double-doubles in 26 matches. Her 18 double-doubles ranks tied for first in the WCC with LMU's senior Heather Hughes. Her last double-double came against the Loyola Marymount Lions when the freshman totaled 16 kills and 17 digs.
YOUNG GAELS LEAD THE WAY: Freshmen Megan York, Shannon Lowell, and Kapua Kamana'o are key components of this season's squad. York has posted 18 double-doubles as a freshman and ranks sixth in the WCC play in kills per game. York has not left the floor in any game this year, and has recorded double-digit kills in all but one of the Gaels matches this year (24 total). Middle blocker Shannon Lowell has ignited for the Gaels in WCC play, placing second in the conference in blocks per game. Lowell averages 1.45 blocks per game in conference play, and has also posted a .261 hitting percentage. Kapua Kamana'o has found her rhythm at the setting position, creating a well balanced offense with multiple hitters recording double-digit kills. Kamana'o ranks sixth in the WCC in assists per game, and has totaled 569 in conference play.
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.