September 17, 1997
USC Women's Volleyball Hosts Arizona State, Arizona to Open Pac-10 Play
THIS WEEK -- The USC women's volleyball team (7-0 overall), off to its best start since 1991, opens Pac-10 play by hosting Arizona State (9-2) on Friday (Sept. 19) and Arizona (7-0) on Saturday (Sept. 20). Both matches are at the North Gym at 7 p.m.
RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 8 in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll. Arizona is No. 15. Arizona State is not ranked but did receive 19 votes.
SERIES -- USC owns sizeable advantages against both Arizona State and Arizona. The Women of Troy are 31-10-1 against the Sun Devils and have won 2 in a row after sweeping the series last year. The Women of Troy last lost to Arizona State on Nov. 11, 1995, in Tempe, Ariz. USC is 33-10 against Arizona and has won 6 in a row against the Wildcats. Arizona last beat USC on Sept. 24, 1994, in Tucson, Ariz., in 4 games.
LAST WEEK -- USC defeated Cal State Northridge, 15-5, 15-9, 15-8, last Tuesday and swept San Diego State on the road on Thursday, 15-8, 15-8, 15-6. The Women of Troy dominated the Matadors, outhitting them .406 to .145. Junior middle blocker Jasmina Marinkovic had a match-high 12 kills and USC outblocked Northridge, 11-2. USC had similar success against San Diego State, holding the Aztecs to a hitting percentage of .082. Marinkovic had a match-high 17 kills, hitting a blazing .609, and junior outside hitter Jennifer Kessy added 14 kills.
NOTES, MILESTONES, ETC. -- USC has won its first 7 matches for the first time since 1991, when it opened the season with 11 wins . . . USC is holding opponents to a hitting percentage of .118 . . . Jasmina Marinkovic is currently hitting .523 (92-11-155), averaging only about half an error per game . . . Jennifer Kessy is 10th on USC's all-time attacks list with 2,268. With 876 career kills, she is 29 kills short of moving into 10th all-time on USC's career kills chart . . . Marinkovic is 9th all-time on USC's career blocking list with 306. With 220 career block assists, she is 8 block assists short of moving into 9th on USC's career block assist list. Marinkovic also has 855 career kills and is right behind Kessy on that list . . . USC freshman outside hitter Janae Henry made her network television debut recently in a dubious manner. Playing at San Diego State in the final game of a sweep on Sept. 11, Henry ripped a ball that looked like a sure kill. Aztec junior outside hitter Michaela Paz had other ideas, however. Covering the deep right court, Paz stabbed at the ball with her foot (a legal play) and sent the ball into USC's backcourt where it landed safely for a kill. The play made numerous highlight reels, including CNN's, where it was Play of the Day. USC had the last laugh, though, beating the Aztecs in 3 games.
COACH LISA LOVE -- One of the nation's most successful collegiate coaches and a program builder everywhere she has been, Lisa Love has added another title. She has been USC's women's volleyball head coach since 1989 and was named associate athletic director in June of 1991. But leave room on the resume for this: President of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Her term runs through 1998. Meanwhile, Love, 40, continues her duties as one of the nation's top volleyball coaches as she begins her ninth year as head coach at USC. Love has posted an outstanding 165-81 (.671) record with the Women of Troy and an impressive 364-159 (.696) mark in 15-plus seasons as a collegiate head coach. Love's teams have been nationally ranked in the final Top 20 in 10 of those years and have made 8 NCAA regional appearances and 11 overall NCAA trips. In 1996, Love led USC to a 21-9 record (12-6 in the Pac-10, tied for third) and to the NCAA Regionals for the third consecutive year. USC got to the NCAA Pacific Regional Semifinal, where it fell to eventual NCAA champion Stanford.
JASMINA MARINKOVIC -- One of the nation's top blockers and most exciting players, junior middle blocker and All-American candidate Jasmina Marinkovic has become a major force for USC. The 1996 KAEPA/AVCA All-District 8 and All-Pac-10 first teamer has opened 1997 on fire, hitting a team-high .523 (92-11-155) in 6 matches. She is second in blocks per game at 1.33. In USC's 3 wins at the GOFF/MSU Classic (8/29-30) at Michigan State, Marinkovic had 41 kills in 77 attacks with only 4 errors, good for a hitting percentage of .481, earning All-Tournament honors. Against Duke (8/30), she went 14-0-26 (.538). After sitting out the Villanova match to rest a sore back, she continued her torrid play against Colorado (9/7) with a line of 22-2-37 (.541). She bettered that against San Diego State (9/11) hitting .609 (17-3-23). In 1996, she led the Women of Troy in hitting percentage, kills, kill average, block solos and block assists.
JENNIFER KESSY -- Another standout junior, All-American candidate Jennifer Kessy began her third season as a starting outside hitter with a bang, earning the Pac-10's first Player of the Week honor in 1997. It was the third of her career and USC's 16th. She leads USC in kills (108), kills per game (4.70) and digs (64). The 1996 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick earned MVP honors at the GOFF/MSU Classic (8/29-30) with 54 kills in USC's 3 wins. Kessy had 12, 17 and 25 kills, respectively, at the tournament, saving the best for last against then-No. 6 Michigan State. She hit .361 on the weekend with 32 digs and 10 blocks. She had a match-high 14 kills against Villanova (9/5), posted 18 kills and 14 digs in the win over Colorado (9/7) and had 14 kills against Cal State Northridge (9/9). She has 3 double-doubles in 7 matches. Kessy is 1 of only 2 USC players to win the Player of the Week award 3 times. Former All-American Kelly Kuebler is the other.
JANICE MOUNTS -- A rising star in the Pac-10, junior All-American candidate Janice Mounts is starting at setter for the second consecutive season. She leads USC with 246 assists and an average of 12.95 per game. In her first weekend of action, she garnered All-Tournament honors at the GOFF/MSU Classic (8/29-30) with 121 assists while helping lead USC to the tournament title. She averaged 13.44 assists per game and also had 21 digs and 8 blocks. Her 52 assists against Michigan State (8/30) are a season high. An All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection as a 1996 sophomore, Mounts led the Women of Troy with 1,318 assists and a 13.31 assist average last year, both good for third all-time on USC's season record lists.
ALAINA KIPPS -- After growing as a reserve her freshman and sophomore years, middle blocker Alaina Kipps has stepped into the starting lineup quite smoothly as a 1997 junior. She leads USC with 42 blocks, averaging 1.75 per game. One of USC's steadiest players, she was a standout in USC's opening weekend with 20 blocks and 21 kills at the GOFF/MSU Classic (8/29-30). She posted a career-high 11 blocks (10 assists) in USC's upset win over Michigan State (8/30) and she posted her first double-figure kill showing with 10 against Duke in a morning match before facing the Spartans. She had a career-high 11 kills and 9 blocks against Colorado (9/7) in the 5-game win and had 9 kills and 6 blocks at San Diego State (9/11) Kipps, who carries a 4.0 GPA, was honored during the Academic Salute at the USC-Washington State football game at the Coliseum (9/13).
ANTOINETTE POLK -- Starting as a redshirt freshman, outside hitter Antoinette Polk is already turning heads. Possibly the most athletic player and best leaper on the team (at 5-10, she can dunk on a regulation basketball hoop), Polk posted her first double-double in only her third career match. She had 11 kills and 14 digs against Michigan State in the finale of the GOFF/MSU Classic (8/29-30). She had 12 kills and hit .321 against Colorado (9/7) and had 10 kills and 8 digs against Cal State Northridge (9/9). Polk played both volleyball and basketball last year, seeing time in 9 games and averaging 2.1 points as a guard.
JEANNE VETTER -- The only senior on the team, Jeanne Vetter is a reserve at outside hitter in 1997. Hampered by a nagging shoulder injury, Vetter saw action in only 1 match in USC's opening weekend at the GOFF/MSU Classic (8/29-30), but she made it count. Getting in as a reserve against the Spartans in the title game, Vetter had 8 big digs in the upset win. She played again against Colorado (9/7), providing a spark off the bench with 3 kills and 6 digs, jumpstarting the Women of Troy like she has so often in her career. She had 7 kills in 8 attempts against Cal State Northridge (9/9), hitting .750.
SARA STEPHEN -- USC's shortest outside hitter at 5-8, junior Sara Stephen is one of the Women of Troy's hardest hitters. As a reserve, Stephen saw time in all 3 of USC's matches at the GOFF/MSU Classic (8/29-30), mainly as a defensive specialist. She had 25 digs in 3 matches (2.5 per game), including 13 vs. Duke and 10 against Michigan State. She is fourth on the team in digs with 43 and posted 4 aces against Villanova (9/5).
KASHI CORMIER -- True freshman Kashi Cormier, a 2-time USA Youth National team member (1996-97), has seen the most action thus far of any of USC's 7 newcomers, starting all 7 USC matches at opposite hitter. She is tied for a team-high with 7 aces, is third on the team with 46 digs and has 20 blocks. At the GOFF/MSU Classic (8/29-30), she came up with 25 digs, including 11 in USC's upset of then-No. 6 Michigan State.
FRESHMEN -- Including Cormier, Coach Lisa Love welcomed 7 freshmen to this year's squad. Outside hitters Janae Henry, the 1996 Volleyball Magazine Player of the Year, and Cormier will both compete for time throughout the season. Setter Heidi Munneke, a 2-time All-CIF Southern Section Division IV first team selection in 1995-96, will be Mounts' back-up. The other 4 freshmen, all walk-ons, are defensive specialist Cynthia Corpuz, outside hitters Christine Bohle and Shannon Redfern and middle blocker Sara Peterson. Redfern recently started her first match of her career against Villanova (9/5), filling in at middle blocker for Jasmina Marinkovic. She came through with 6 kills in 13 attempts. Bohle has seen action in 11 games as a backrow specialist. Henry has 14 kills and 17 digs in 9 games as a reserve and Munneke has 63 assists in 6 games. Corpuz and Peterson both played for the first time against Villanova, each seeing action in the final game.
AMBER OLIVER -- Sophomore Amber Oliver, expected to be a major contributor at middle blocker in 1997, will miss the season because of a shoulder injury suffered this spring.
TOUGH SCHEDULE -- As usual, USC faces one of the toughest schedules in the nation, featuring 8 schools that have been ranked in the USA Today/AVCA Top 25: Stanford, Michigan State, Washington State, Washington, Arizona, UCLA, Pepperdine and Colorado. USC also faces 5 teams that received votes in the preseason poll: Duke, San Diego State, Oregon State, Pepperdine and Arizona State. USC is 2-0 against ranked teams so far with wins over Michigan State and Colorado.
USC IN THE PAC-10 -- Jasmina Marinkovic leads the Pac-10 in hitting percentage (.523), is sixth in kill average (4.38) and eighth in block average (1.33). Alaina Kipps is third in block average (1.75). Jennifer Kessy is fourth in kill average (4.70). Janice Mounts is third in assist average (12.95). As a team, USC is second in hitting percentage (.309) and service aces (1.79) and fourth in blocks (3.29). The Women of Troy are first in opponent blocks (1.46), service aces (0.96) and digs (10.67), second in opponent hitting percentage (.118) and third in opponent kills (11.21). Kipps' 11 blocks against Michigan State (8/30) are tied for tops in the conference this year.
ARIZONA STATE -- Ninth-year coach Patti Snyder-Park and the Sun Devils opened the season with 7 consecutive wins before falling to Loyola Marymount at the UCSB Classic. Arizona State bounced back with a win against South Florida and now stands 9-2. The Sun Devils are paced by senior outside hitter Terri Cox, who leads them in kills (192), kill average (4.59) and digs (134). Senior middle blocker Kirstin Mattson has a team-high 53 blocks (13 solo) and sophomore setter Jolynn Faatulu is averaging 12.87 assists per game.
ARIZONA -- The Wildcats, headed by sixth-year coach David Rubio, are off to a 7-0 start. The Wildcats are led by senior outside hitters Carolyn Penfield, who has a team-high 85 kills and 17 aces, and Michelle Fanger, who has 76 kills and is hitting .467. Sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Erin Aldrich, also a world class high jumper, leads Arizona with 29 blocks. Rubio is the brother of second-year USC volunteer assistant coach Keith Rubio.
PRESEASON POLLS -- USC was ranked No. 15 in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Poll and No. 14 in Volleyball Magazine.
PAC-10 PRESEASON COACHES POLL -- 1. Stanford, 2. USC, 3. UCLA, 4. Washington State, 5. Washington, 6. Arizona, 7. Oregon State, 8. California, 9. Oregon, 10. Arizona State.
LOVE NOTES: "Now comes the nitty-gritty part of the season. I, of course, like that we're 7-0, but we're still a young team, we make young mistakes and we are still gaining experience. Both Arizona schools are off to great starts as well and will probably provide our toughest contests to date."
USC Volleyball Season Highs
Christine Bohle -- #32
Kashi Cormier -- #21
Cynthia Corpuz -- #4
Janae Henry -- #22
Jennifer Kessy -- #15
Alaina Kipps -- #12
Jasmina Marinkovic -- #10
Janice Mounts -- #9
Heidi Munneke -- #7
Sara Peterson -- #8
Antoinette Polk -- #3
Shannon Redfern -- #14
Sara Stephen -- #11
Jeanne Vetter -- #17
USC Team Highs
USC Team Lows
USC Individual Highs
Opponent Team Highs
Opponent Team Lows
Individual Opponent Highs
USA Today/AVCA Coaches Pollas of 9/16/97
1. Penn State (58)
2. Florida (1)
3. Long Beach State (1)
6. Washington State
7. UC Santa Barbara
13. Michigan State
14. Texas A&M
16. Loyola Marymount
22. Ohio State
24. Colorado State
25. Notre Dame
Team Pac-10 Overall Wash. St. 0-0 11-0 USC 0-0 7-0 Arizona 0-0 7-0 Arizona St. 0-0 9-2 UCLA 0-0 4-1 Stanford 0-0 7-2 Oregon 0-0 6-2 California 0-0 5-2 Oregon St. 0-0 7-4 Washington 0-0 5-4