Sept. 23, 1997
No. 7 USC Women's Volleyball Visits No. 6 Washington State, Washington
THIS WEEK -- The USC women's volleyball team (9-0 overall, 2-0 in the Pacific-10 Conference), off to its best start since 1991, embarks on its first Pac-10 road trip of the season when it faces Washington State (14-0, 2-0) on Friday (Sept. 26) in Pullman and Washington (7-4, 2-0) on Saturday (Sept. 27) in Seattle. Both matches are at 7 p.m. All 3 teams are tied for first place in the Pac-10.
RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 7 in both the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll and the Volleyball Magazine Top 20 Poll. Washington State is No. 6 in both polls. Washington is not ranked.
SERIES -- USC leads both schools in the overall series. The Women of Troy enjoy a 15-8 edge over Washington State, though the Cougars defeated USC, 15-11, 15-9, 11-15, 15-11, in the last meeting in Pullman, Wash., on Nov. 9, 1996. USC's last win in the series came on Oct. 11 last year in Los Angeles as the Women of Troy downed the Cougars, 15-9, 15-12, 15-6. Against Washington, USC is 17-8 and has won 3 straight. USC last lost to the Huskies on Sept. 16, 1995, in Seattle, 12-15, 8-15, 15-13, 15-12, 15-9.
NATIONAL AND PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK -- Junior middle blocker Jasmina Marinkovic was named the AVCA National and Pac-10 Player of the Week on Monday (Sept. 22). Marinkovic performed, literally, error-free in USC's sweeps against Arizona State (Sept. 19) and Arizona (Sept. 20), hitting .767 with 23 kills in 30 attempts and no errors. She also had 1 solo block and 8 block assists in the pair of quick victories. They are Marinkovic's first AVCA and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors of her career. It is USC's second Pac-10 award this season (Jennifer Kessy was honored on Sept. 2) and the 17th for the program.
LAST WEEK -- USC posted a pair of dominant sweeps in its first Pac-10 weekend, defeating Arizona State on Sept. 19, 15-4, 15-3, 15-4, and downing Arizona on Sept. 20, 15-1, 15-4, 15-3. Against the Sun Devils, junior middle blocker Jasmina Marinkovic continued her torrid play with 13 kills on 17 attempts without an error for a match hitting percentage of .765. It was the second-highest hitting percentage in school history (min. 15 attempts). Junior outside hitter Jennifer Kessy was almost as impressive with a match-high 16 kills and 10 digs. The Women of Troy hit a season-high .447 and held the Sun Devils to an opponent low of minus-.014. Against the Wildcats, Marinkovic led another ferocious offensive performance with 10 kills on 13 attempts without an error, good for a percentage of .769. As a team, USC outhit Arizona .446 to .087. Freshman outside hitter Shannon Redfern posted 7 service aces, a USC season high and only 1 shy of USC's record for a 3-game match.
NOTES, MILESTONES, ETC. -- USC allowed only a combined 19 points in its sweeps of Arizona State (15-4, 15-3, 15-4) and Arizona (15-1, 15-4, 15-3), the lowest point total allowed in back-to-back 3-game matches since 1977. The 1977 USC team, which went 38-0 and won the AIAW national championship, downed UC Santa Barbara, 15-1, 15-2, 15-4, on Oct. 20 and followed that by downing Cal State Fullerton, 15-5, 15-2, 15-0, on Oct. 24, for a combined 2-match total of 14 points . . . USC has won its first 9 matches for the first time since 1991, when it opened the season with 11 wins . . . USC is holding opponents to a hitting percentage of .106 . . . Jasmina Marinkovic is currently hitting .562 (115-11-185), averaging less than half an error per game . . . Jennifer Kessy is 10th on USC's all-time attacks list with 2,309. With 900 career kills, she is 5 kills short of moving into 10th all-time on USC's career kills chart . . . Marinkovic is ninth all-time on USC's career blocking list with 315. With 228 career block assists, she is now ninth on USC's career block assist list. Marinkovic also has 878 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 167-81 (.673) record with the Women of Troy and an impressive 366-159 (.697) 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 .562 (115-11-185) in 8 matches. She was just named AVCA National and Pac-10 Player of the Week on Monday (Sept. 22) for her flawless performance in USC's sweeps against Arizona State (9/19) and Arizona (9/20). In the 2 matches, she had 23 kills in 30 attempts without an error, good for a hitting percentage of .767. She also had 9 blocks. It is her first AVCA and Pac-10 Player of the Week honor, USC's second Pac-10 Player of the Week honor this year (Jennifer Kessy was the other) and the 17th for the program. Against the Sun Devils Marinkovic had 13 kills in 17 attempts for a percentage of .765, the second-best match hitting percentage in school history (min. 15 attempts). On the year for USC, Marinkovic is second in kills per game (4.26) and blocks per game (1.37). 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).
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 is among 17 that USC has won. She leads USC in kills (132), kills per game (4.55) and digs (78). 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 posted 18 kills and 14 digs in the win over Colorado (9/7) and had a match-high 16 kills against Arizona State (9/19), hitting a career-high .591 in the match. She has 4 double-doubles in 9 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 313 assists and an average of 12.52 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 49 blocks, averaging 1.63 per game. One of USC's steadiest players, she is the only one on the team who has appeared in all 30 games. Kipps was a standout in USC's season-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). Polk is second on the team with 58 digs and tied for third in kills with 62. She hit a career-high .429 with 8 kills against Arizona (9/20). 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 also played basketball last year, seeing time in 9 games and averaging 2.1 points as a guard. She has since decided to concentrate on volleyball.
JEANNE VETTER -- The only senior on the team, Jeanne Vetter has started USC's last 2 matches after serving mainly as a reserve. Vetter started her first match of the year against Arizona State (9/19) and had 6 kills in 7 attempts without an error. She also had 3 aces and 4 assists. 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, jump starting 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 tied for the team lead with 11 service aces, including 4 against Villanova (9/5). She is fifth on the team in digs with 46.
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 USC's 7 first matches at opposite hitter. She has 7 aces, is fourth on the team with 47 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 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 and often works her way into Coach Love's rotation. Against Arizona, Redfern had a USC season-high 7 aces, 1 short of tying USC's 3-game match record. 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 4 teams that received votes in the preseason poll: Duke, San Diego State, Oregon State and Arizona State. USC is 3-0 against ranked teams so far with wins over No. 6 Michigan State, No. 22 Colorado and No. 15 Arizona (rankings at the time of the match).
USC IN THE PAC-10 -- Jasmina Marinkovic leads the Pac-10 in hitting percentage (.562), is seventh in kill average (4.26) and ninth in block average (1.37). Janice Mounts is third in assist average (12.52). Alaina Kipps is fourth in block average (1.63). Jennifer Kessy is fourth in kill average (4.55) and Sara Stephen is third in service aces (0.39). As a team, USC leads the conference in hitting percentage (.329) and service aces (2.07) and is sixth in blocks (3.22) and assists (13.77). The Women of Troy are first in the following defensive categories: blocks (1.53), service aces (0.90), digs (9.50), kills (10.47) and assists (9.33). USC is second in opponent hitting percentage (.106). Kipps' 11 blocks against Michigan State (8/30) are tied for tops in the conference this year.
WASHINGTON STATE -- The Cougars (14-0, 2-0) are the only other undefeated team in the Pac-10 besides USC. Ninth-year coach Cindy Fredrick has a veteran team that includes 6 juniors and 4 seniors. Washington State has run a diversified offense with 3 players with at least 121 kills. Junior outside hitter Jennifer Stinson has a team-high 161 kills, followed by senior middle hitter Keren Oigman's 138 kills and senior outside hitter Shannon Wyckoff's 121. Senior setter Stephanie Papke is averaging 12.90 assists per game. Wyckoff leads the Pac-10 with 1.80 blocks per game and junior outside hitter Jennifer Canevari is second in the conference with 3.54 digs per game.
WASHINGTON -- Seventh-year coach Bill Neville has the Huskies tied atop the Pac-10 with USC and Washington State at 7-4 overall and 2-0 in the conference. The Huskies are led by senior quick hitter Makare Desilets, who has a team-high 160 kills and 73 blocks. Fellow quick hitter Leslie Tuiasosopo is right behind Desilets in both categories with 142 kills and 62 blocks. Senior Michelle Patton and sophomore Angie Coma have split the setting chores with 280 and 270 assists, respectively.
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: "Sweeping Arizona State and Arizona was a nice way to start conference play. We had some great performances. For Jasmina Marinkovic to go 2 matches without a hitting error is almost unthinkable. But she doesn't do that alone. It takes good team passing and setting and we are getting that. That said, this weekend's matches at Washington State and Washington will both be battles. Any time you go on the road, it's tough, and in the Pac-10, it's even tougher. I look forward to seeing how our team responds to the challenge."