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Toreros Prep for Sweet 16

Dec. 4, 2006

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IN A NUTSHELL: The 14th-ranked University of San Diego women's volleyball team (26-5) will travel to Gainesville, Fla. for the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. The Toreros will have a rematch with top-ranked University of Nebraska on Friday at 1:30 p.m. (PST). Should the Toreros defeat the Huskers, they will advance to play the winner of the University of Florida and University of Minnesota match to see who will go on to the Final Four on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. (PST).

LAST TIME OUT: The Toreros began play in the NCAA Tournament posting two wins, over Jacksonville State University and No. 25 Duke University. On Friday, the Toreros throttled the Gamecocks sweeping them 3-0. In the match, Laurel Abrahamson tied for a match-high 13 kills on 21 attempts while only committing two attacking errors to post a match-best .524 hitting percentage. Christie Dawson also recorded 13 kills on 21 attempts while only committing three attacking errors to post a .476 attacking percentage. Kristen Carlson recorded 11 kills on 23 attempts while only committing three attacking errors to post a .391 hitting percentage. Jessica Nyrop racked up 40 assists to help direct the San Diego offense to a .364 attacking percentage. On Saturday, the Toreros defeated the Blue Devils 3-2 in a hard fought match. Carlson followed up her 11-kill performance against Jacksonville State with a 27-kill, 17-dig outing against the Blue Devils, picking up her 23rd double-double of the season. Three other Toreros - Dawson (16), Abrahamson (14) and Amy DeGroot (13) - were in double figures in kills, as well. Jessica Nyrop helped direct the San Diego offense to a .309 attacking percentage as she recorded a match-best 69 assists.

SCOUTING THE HUSKERS: Nebraska enters the week with a 29-1 overall record after defeating American University 3-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and downing Northern Iowa 3-0 in the second round. Nebraska's lone loss of the season came against Colorado at Colorado. The Huskers lead the all-time series between the two programs at 2-0, including sweeping USD 3-0 on Aug. 29 in Lincoln. Nebraska is led offensively by Sara Pavan who has a team-leading 5.12 kills per game average. Rachel Holloway is the floor leader for the Huskers as she leads the team with a 13.47 assists per game average. Nebraska is under the direction of seventh-year John Cook. During his tenure in Lincoln, Cook has posted a career record of 216-14.

SCOUTING THE GATORS: The University of Florida enters the Sweet 16 with an overall record of 30-2 after defeating Florida A&M in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 3-0 and defeating Arizona State 3-1 in the second round match, 3-1. This will be the first meeting between the two programs in the sport of women's volleyball. The Gators are led offensively by Kiysa Killingsworth, who has a team-leading 3.47 kills per game average. The floor leader for the Gators is Angie McGinnis, who has a team-best 13.27 assists per game average in helping direct the Florida offense to a team attacking percentage of .294. Florida is under the direction of 17th-year head coach Mary Wise. During her tenure in Gainesville, Wise has posted a 522-53 overall record.

SCOUTING THE GOLDEN GOPHERS: Minnesota enters the week with a 25-7 overall record after picking up wins over Siena and Saint Johns in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The all-time series between the two programs is tied at 2-2. The Golden Gophers are led offensively by Meredith Nelson, who has a team-leading 3.28 kills per game. The floor leader for Minnesota is Rachel Hartmann, who is averaging 13.02 assists per game. Minnesota is under the direction of 31st-year head coach Mike Hebert. During his tenure with the Golden Gophers, Herbert has posted a 854-354 overall record.

THE POLLS: The University of San Diego women's volleyball team moved up three spots to No. 14 in the latest CSTV/AVCA top-25 poll after posting back-to-back wins over Jacksonville State and Duke this past week in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. This marks the 11th consecutive week the Toreros have been ranked in the top-25. Nebraska checks is as the top team in the nation, Florida ia ranked No. 7 and Minnesota checks in with a No 9 overall ranking in the latest CSTV/AVCA top-25 poll.

TOREROS IN CLOSE MATCHES: The Toreros' 3-2 win over Duke University this past Saturday moved them to a perfect 4-0 when going to five games in a match.

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 11-10 record in the Tournament. The 2006 team is now tied for the furthest a USD has made it in the NCAA Tournament, matching that of the 2004 team.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: San Diego has had two outstanding freshman make huge contributions, not only during the season, but in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Both Andrea Csaszi and Amy DeGroot have seen a lot of time on the court for the Toreros. DeGroot posted a career-day in Saturday's 3-2 win over Duke as the middle hitter from Frenchtown, Mont. recorded a career-high 13 kills on 33 attempts while only committing three errors to post a .303 attacking percentage. Csaszi, who became the teams starting libero just prior to the start of conference play, has been a solid defensive help for USD as the freshman from Oceanside, Calif. recorded a match-best 19 digs in the win against Duke on Saturday and also had a team-best 12 digs in the 3-0 win over Jacksonville State.

SETTING THE RECORD BOOKS: Sophomore setter Jessica Nyrop has now moved into second at USD in single-season assists as she has racked up 1,516 assists thus far in 2006. Nyrop is now only eight assists behind Lindsey Sherburne who holds the all-time record for single-season assists with 1,524, that she set in 2005.

INSIDE THE RECORD BOOKS: Senior outside hitter Kristen Carlson has etched her named in the San Diego record books. Her 519 kills on the season ranks her fifth in single-season kills at USD, her 354 digs places her 10th at USD in single-season digs and at 1,050 career-kills she ranks ninth all-time at USD. Senior middle hitter Christie Dawson has also etched her name in the record books as well. Dawson is second all-time in career-hitting percentage at .314, is fifth in career-kills with 1,445, is ninth in career-solo blocks with 59 and is seventh all-time in total blocks with 259. Laurel Abrahamson has also made her mark in the record books for single-season hitting percentage at .338, good for fourth best.

THREE-HEADED MONSTER: For 21 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 5.09 kills per game, followed by Dawson who is averaging 4.06 kills per game and Abrahamson is averaging 3.15 kills per game.

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.

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 23. 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.

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 26-5 record.

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.

VOLLEYBALL NOW A TICKETED SPORT: All USD volleyball home matches are now a ticketed event, effective at the start of the 2006 season. General Admission tickets will available to the general public on the day of each match. USD faculty, staff, and student tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. General admission tickets are $5 per person.

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.