Women's Volleyball

    Sept. 30, 1997

    No. 7 USC Women's Volleyball Hosts Defending NCAA champ Stanford, California

    THIS WEEK -- The USC women's volleyball team (10-1 overall, 3-1 in the Pacific-10 Conference, tied for third place), off to its best start since 1991, hosts second-place Stanford (12-2, 3-0) on Friday night (Oct. 3) at 6 p.m. and California (6-6, 1-2) on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 4) at 4 p.m. Both matches are at the North Gym.

    RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 7 in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll. Stanford is No. 4. California is not ranked.

    SERIES -- USC trails Stanford, 36-9, and leads California, 22-6. Stanford is 1 of only 2 Pac-10 schools that enjoy a lead on USC (UCLA is the other). The Cardinal has defeated the Women of Troy 11 consecutive times, including 3 times each of the last 3 years (twice in the regular season and once in the postseason). USC last beat Stanford on Sept. 17, 1993, at the Lyon Center. Conversely, the Women of Troy have defeated the Bears in 10 consecutive matches. The last time USC lost to California was on Nov. 15, 1991, in Berkeley. The last time USC lost to California in Los Angeles was on Nov. 21, 1986.

    LAST WEEK -- USC suffered its first loss of 1997 at No. 6 Washington State on Sept. 26 but bounced back to defeat Washington in Seattle on Sept. 27. The Women of Troy fell to the Cougars in a nail-biter, 14-16, 11-15, 15-3, 15-12, 10-15, in front of a raucous capacity crowd in Pullman. Junior middle blocker Jasmina Marinkovic tied a career high with 26 kills and junior outside hitter Jennifer Kessy had 22 kills and 17 digs. USC missed an early chance to take control of the match, letting a 14-10 lead in the first game slip away. Troy rallied to tie the match and was tied 9-9 in the decisive fifth game, but couldn't complete the comeback. The Women of Troy rebounded against the Huskies, winning 15-10, 10-15, 15-11, 17-15. Five USC players had at least 10 kills, led by Kessy with a match-high 21 kills and 14 digs. Marinkovic had 17 kills and senior outside hitter Jennifer Kessy had 14 kills. On the weekend, Mounts had a combined 145 assists, averaging 16.1 per game.

    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) on Sept. 19-20, its 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, gave up a combined 14 points in back-to-back matches. . . USC is off to its best start (10-1) since 1991 when it opened 14-1 . . . USC is outhitting opponents .303-.132 . . . Jasmina Marinkovic is still hitting above .500 at .509 (158-22-267), averaging less than an error per game . . . Jennifer Kessy has moved into eighth on USC's all-time attacks list with 2,414. She has 943 career kills and is now tied for ninth all time on USC's career kills chart (Stefanie Bodison) . . . Marinkovic is now tied for eighth all time on both USC's career total blocking list, with 332 (Janice Johnson), and on the career block assists list, with 242 (Kim Ruddins). Marinkovic also has 921 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 168-82 (.672) record with the Women of Troy and an impressive 367-160 (.696) mark in 14-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 .509 (158-22-267) in 10 matches. She was named AVCA National and Pac-10 Player of the Week on 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. They were her first AVCA and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors, 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 went 13-0-17 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 (4.39) and blocks per game (1.50). In the loss to Washington State (9/26), Marinkovic tied a career high with 26 kills and she followed it up with 17 kills and 11 blocks at Washington (9/27). 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 (175), kills per game (4.61) and digs (109). 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. Kessy had back-to-back double-doubles at Washington State (9/26) and at Washington (9/27) with 22 kills and 17 digs and 21 kills and 14 digs, respectively. 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 6 double-doubles in 11 matches and 27 for her career. Kessy is 1 of only 2 USC players to win the Pac-10 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 458 assists and an average of 13.47 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 had 52 assists against Michigan State (8/30) and also had 21 digs and 8 blocks overall for the tournament. Mounts put together her 2 highest assist totals of the season back-to-back at Washington State (9/26) and at Washington (9/27) with 74 and 71, respectively. The 74 assists against the Cougars was the 10th-highest total in USC history. 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 59 blocks, averaging 1.51 per game. One of USC's steadiest players, she is the only member of the team who has appeared in all 39 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 12 kills and 6 blocks at Washington (9/27), had 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 her second double-double at Washington State (9/26) with a career highs in kills (13) digs (18). Polk is second on the team with 82 digs and fourth in kills with 78. 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 4 matches after serving mainly as a reserve. She posted season highs with 14 kills and 20 digs at Washington (9/27) for her first double-double of the season. She also had 10 digs at Washington State (9/26). 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 second on the team with 11 service aces, including 4 against Villanova (9/5). She is fifth on the team in digs with 57.

    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 first 7 matches at opposite hitter. She had 13 and 11 kills, respectively, at Washington State (9/26) and Washington (9/27), hitting .407 against the Cougars. She has 8 aces, is fourth on the team with 61 digs and has 22 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 back-row specialist. Henry has 14 kills and 19 digs in 10 games as a reserve and Munneke has 63 assists in 6 games. Corpuz has played in 2 games and Peterson has played in 1.

    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 3-1 against ranked teams so far with wins over No. 6 Michigan State, No. 22 Colorado and No. 15 Arizona and a loss to No. 6 Washington State (rankings at the time of the match).

    USC IN THE PAC-10 -- Jasmina Marinkovic leads the Pac-10 in hitting percentage (.509) and is sixth in kill average (4.26) and block average (1.50). Janice Mounts is second in assist average (13.47) and Shannon Redfern is tied for second in ace average (0.44). Jennifer Kessy is third in kill average (4.61) and eighth in digs (2.87). Alaina Kipps is fifth in block average (1.51). As a team, USC leads the conference in service aces (1.95), is second in hitting percentage (.303) and fifth in blocks (3.23) and assists (14.62). The Women of Troy are first in the following opponent categories: service aces (0.97), digs (10.28), kills (11.74) and assists (10.51). USC is second in opponent hitting percentage (.132) and third in blocks by opponents (2.08). Redfern's 7 aces are high for the Pac-10.

    STANFORD -- The Cardinal (12-2, 3-0), under 14th-year coach Don Shaw, is having another fine season with its only 2 losses coming to top-ranked Penn State. The defending national champions are led by All-Americans Kristin Folkl at middle blocker, Lisa Sharpley at setter and Kerri Walsh at middle blocker/outside hitter. Folkl has a team-high 224 kills and 110 digs and is hitting .412. Sharpley is averaging 12.07 assists per game and Walsh is averaging 1.19 blocks per game. As a team, Stanford is hitting a Pac-10 high .333 and is outblocking opponents 3.30-1.52.

    CALIFORNIA -- The Bears (6-6, 1-2), under third-year coach Sue Woodstra, won 5 of their first 6 matches but have since lost 5 of their last 6. Senior outside hitter Jessica Dinaberg has a team-high 153 kills and 127 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Amanda Selby and junior middle blocker Elena Berman each have a team-high 33 blocks and Selby leads the team with a hitting percentage of .290. Woodstra is a former USC All-American and a 2-time U.S. Olympian who played at Troy in 1977.

    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 -- "The matches in Washington were both emotional battles and despite splitting, I'm pleased with our play. The Stanford match is a huge challenge. It will require a special evening and a lot of belief in our abilities to pull off an upset. Stanford sports one of the most balanced and potent attacks of any team in the country. It will take a lot of perseverance. Do I think we have a team that has the potential to do it? Yes, I do. But we can't forget about California. The Bears are a fine team and deserve our complete attention."

    USA Today/AVCA Coaches Poll

    (As of 9/30/97)
     1. Penn State (60)
     2. Long Beach State
     3. Florida
     4. Stanford
     5. Nebraska
     6. Washington State
     7. USC
     8. BYU
     9. UC Santa Barbara
    10. Wisconsin
    11. Pacific
    12. Pepperdine
    13. Texas
    14. Texas A&M
    15. Arizona
    16. Michigan State
    17. Loyola Marymount
    18. Hawai'i
    19. Maryland
    20. Colorado State
    21. UCLA
    22. Arkansas
    23. Colorado
    24. Ohio State
    25. Indiana

    1997 Pac-10 Standings

    Team         Pac-10  Overall
    Wash. St.       4-0     16-0
    Stanford        3-0     12-2
    USC             3-1     10-1
    Washington      3-1      8-5
    Arizona         2-1     10-1
    California      1-2      6-6
    UCLA            1-3      5-4
    Oregon St.      1-3      8-7
    Arizona St.     0-3      9-5
    Oregon          0-4      7-7