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Toreros Prep For NCAA Tournament

Nov. 28, 2006

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WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE: The 17th-ranked University of San Diego women's volleyball team (24-5) will begin play in the NCAA Tournament this week as they head to Knoxville, Tenn. for the first two rounds. USD drew the No. 16 seed in the field of 64 and will play Jacksonville State University in the first round on Friday at 2 p.m. Should the Toreros win and advance on to the second round, USD will play winner of the Tennessee and Duke match on Saturday at 2 p.m.

LAST TIME OUT: Paced by senior Christie Dawson's 15 kills and senior Kristen Carlson's 17 kills, the 17th-ranked University of San Diego women's volleyball team swept Cal State Fullerton in the regular-season finale for both teams Tuesday evening at the Jenny Craig Pavilion in a non-conference match. Carlson, the newly crowned West Coast Conference Player of the Year, led all players with her 17 kills on 38 attempts to post a .342 attacking percentage. Dawson racked up 15 kills on 26 attempts, while only recording three errors to post a match-best .462 attacking percentage. Jessica Nyrop, the defending WCC Co-Player of the Week, recorded 39 assists while directing the San Diego offense to a .237 team attacking percentage. For the Titans, Brittany Moore was the lone player in double-digit kills as she recorded 11. Julie Geissert recorded 29 assists to help direct the Fullerton offense to a .079 team attacking percentage.

TOREROS IN THE POST SEASON: San Diego is making its 11th appearance in the past 12 seasons in the NCAA Tournament and USD has posted a 9-10 record in the Tournament. The furthest USD has made it in the Tournament is the Sweet 16, a feat they have achieved once in program history during the 2004 season.

SCOUTING THE GAMECOCKS: Jacksonville State enters the NCAA Tournament with a 24-4 overall record, are riding a 19-match winning streak and are the 2006 Ohio Valley Conference champions. This will be the first ever meeting between the Toreros and Gamecocks in the sport of volleyball. The Gamecocks offense is led by Abbey Breit, who has a team-leading 5.40 kills per game average. Breit also averages 3.35 digs per game to place second on the team in the category. The floor leader for JSU is Emily Withers, who is averaging 13.87 assists per game in helping direct the Gamecocks offense to a team attacking percentage of .245. Jacksonville State in under the direction of fifth-year head coach Rick Nold. During his tenure, Nold has posted a 101-46 overall record.

SCOUTING THE LADY VOLS: The University of Tennessee enters the regional with a 19-11 overall record and a 10-0 record in the SEC. This will be the first meeting between the two programs in the sport of volleyball. The Lady Vols are led offensively by Yuliya Stoyanova, who has a team-leading 4.08 kills per game average and a 2.76 digs per game average. The floor leader for Tennessee is Chelsea Noble, who has a team-best 11.68 assists per game average in helping direct the UT offense to a .236 team-attacking percentage. The Lady Vols are under the direction of 10th-year head coach Rob Patrick. During his tenure in Knoxville, Patrick has posted an overall record of 189-163.

SCOUTING THE BLUEDEVILS: Duke University enters the week with a 28-3 overall record and are ranked No. 25 in the latest CSTV/AVCA top-25 poll. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs in the sport of volleyball. The offensive leader for the Blue Devils is Carrie DeMange, who has a team-leading 4.02 kills per game average. DeManage also averaged 2.72 digs per game to help out on the defensive side of things as well. The floor leader for the Blue Devils is Ali Hausfeld, who is averaging a team-leading 13.17 assists per game in helping direct the Duke offense to a team attacking percentage of .259. The Blue Devils are under the direction of eighth-year head coach Jolene Nagel. During her tenure in Durham, Nagel has posted a career record of 163-82.

THE POLLS: The University of San Diego women's volleyball team held steady at No. 17 in the latest CSTV/AVCA top-25 poll after posting a 3-0 win over Cal State Fullerton this past Tuesday in non-conference action. This marks the 10th consecutive week the Toreros have been ranked in the top-25. Duke University is the only other team in this regional that is ranked in the top-25, as the Blue Devils check in at No. 25.

CARLSON NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Senior outside hitter Kristen Carlson was named the 2006 West Coast Conference Player of the Year. She became the fourth player at USD to earn this award. Carlson led the conference with her 5.12 kills per game average, sixth in digs per game at 3.51 and leads the conference in double-doubles (kills-digs) with 22. Carlson has also moved into the 1,000 career-kills mark this season, as the senior lefty from Purcellville, Va. now has 1,012 kills in her three-year San Diego career.

THREE-HEADED MONSTER: For 19 matches this season, 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 5.12 kills per game, followed by Dawson who is averaging 4.10 kills per game and Abrahamson is averaging 3.13 kills per game.

ALL SET UP: Sophomore setter Jessica Nyrop continues to show why she is not only one of the best setters in the WCC, but also in the nation. Nyrop has paced the conference with her 13.79 assists per game average. On the season, Nyrop has recorded 1,407 assists to place sixth at USD in single-season assists. She is just 47 assists behind Lindsey Shurburne (2005) for fifth place. Nyrop has gone over the 50 assist mark on 19 occasions this season including a career-high 73 in a 3-2 win over Loyola Marymount University on Nov. 2.

DAWSON CONTINUES HOT STREAK: Senior middle hitter Christie Dawson continues to be one of the hottest Toreros over the post couple of weeks. Dawson posted yet another solid week as she racked up 15 kills on 26 attempts, while only recording three attacking errors to post a match-best .462 hitting percentage against Cal State Fullerton. Dawson has a career-attacking percentage of .315, which is second best in program history.

FIVE TOREROS EARN ALL-WCC HONORS: The University of San Diego women's volleyball team, which clinched the 2006 West Coast Conference Championship three weeks ago, capped a near-perfect conference season by placing three players on the All-WCC first team, including senior Kristen Carlson, who took home the conference's Player of the Year award. Joining Carlson in the yearly awards is San Diego interim Head Coach Brent Hilliard, who garnered WCC Coach of the Year honors. USD's other first-team selections were Christie Dawson and Laurel Abrahamson. Jessica Nyrop was an All-WCC honorable mention and Andrea Csaszi was selected to the All-Freshman team.

HILLIARD NAMED WCC COACH OF THE YEAR: Interim head coach Brent Hilliard was named the West Coast Conference Coach of the year after leading the Toreros to a 13-1 WCC record and the conference championship. Hilliard, who is taking over for head coach Jennifer Petrie who took the season off to spend time with her new son Charles, her two-year old daughter Jane, as well as time with her husband Mark, is in his first season at the head coach position at the college level and posted a 24-5 record.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Some of the Toreros individually, as well as the team itself, hold lofty positions inside the West Coast Conference statistics. Kristen Carlson leads the WCC in kills per game with her 5.10 kills per game average and she also ranks sixth in the conference in digs per game at an average of 3.52. Laurel Abrahamson ranks fourth in the WCC in hitting percentage at .335. Christie Dawson ranks first in the WCC in hitting percentage during conference games only at .401 and overall she ranks fifth in kills per game with her 4.07 average. Jessica Nyrop continues to lead the conference in assists per game at 13.82. The team ranks not only first place in the standings, but first in kills at 17.27 and assists at 15.84. USD is also ranked second in hitting percentage at .256.

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.

2006 GAMETRACKER AVAILABLE: All San Diego volleyball home matches can be followed via Gametracker on the Toreros athletic web site at www.usdtoreros.com. Gametracker is a service of Online College Sports, the official web provider for San Diego athletics, and is a real time update of the action. Selected San Diego road matches are also available via Gametracker. To see if Gametracker is available for a game, go to San Diego Events at the top-right of the home page. If Gametracker is available there will be a Gametracker link.

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.