Oct. 7, 1997
No. 6 USC Heads North to Take On Oregon, Oregon State
THIS WEEK -- The USC women's volleyball team (11-2 overall, 4-2 in the Pacific-10 Conference, tied for third place), travels to Oregon (7-9, 0-5) on Thursday (Oct. 9) at 7 p.m. and will tackle Oregon State on Friday (Oct. 10) at 7:30 p.m. The match on Friday against the Beavers in Corvallis will be broadcast live by FOX Sports Net. Paul Sunderland and Heather Cox will call the action.
RANKINGS -- USC is ranked No. 6 in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll. Neither Oregon nor Oregon State are ranked. USC, which was ranked No. 15 in the preseason USA Today/AVCA Coaches Poll, has moved up in 5 of the 6 polls.
SERIES -- USC is 19-6 against Oregon and 15-7 against Oregon State. The Women of Troy have won 13 consecutive matches against the Ducks and swept them twice last year. USC last lost to Oregon on Sept. 29, 1990, in Los Angeles, 3-1. USC last lost in Eugene on Sept. 27, 1987, 3-1. USC has lost 2 in a row against the Beavers. The Women of Troy last won in Corvallis on Sept. 24, 1993.
LAST WEEK -- USC split a pair of home matches, falling to Stanford on Oct. 3 before defeating California on Oct. 4. USC kept it close for much of the match against No. 4 Stanford, but eventually fell, 15-13, 15-0, 15-13. USC was led by 10 kills each from junior outside hitter Jennifer Kessy and junior middle blocker Jasmina Marinkovic. The Women of Troy led 11-10 in the first game, but Stanford scored 4 consecutive points to take a 14-11 lead. USC responded with 2 points, but the rally ended there. Stanford absolutely dominated the second game, outhitting USC .467 to minus-.231, shutting out the Women of Troy. USC bounced back in the third game and played Stanford tight and even led, 8-6, at one point. The Cardinal was too much, however, took a 9-8 lead, and never trailed again. USC downed California, 15-6, 15-6, 12-15, 15-13. Kessy had a double-double with 16 kills and 11 digs, Marinkovic had 14 kills and freshman outside hitter Antoinette Polk had 9 kills. USC looked headed for an easy sweep, but let an 11-3 lead in the third game get away when USC Coach Lisa Love emptied her bench. Cal looked like it might send the match to a fifth game, leading in Game 4, 13-11. But USC rallied with 4 consecutive points as junior middle blocker Alaina Kipps ended the match with her eighth kill.
NOTES, MILESTONES, ETC. -- Junior outside hitter Jennifer Kessy needs just 31 kills to become the eighth Trojan ever to reach 1,000 kills. Junior middle blocker Jasmina Marinkovic needs just 55 kills to join Kessy on the list. The pair are currently ninth and 10th, respectively, on USC's all-time kills chart. Junior setter Janice Mounts needs just 38 assists to become only the fifth Trojan ever to reach 2,000 assists. Kessy is eighth on USC's all-time attacks list with 2,479 and needs just 12 more digs to crack the top 10 in that category. Marinkovic (1,933 career attacks) is now fifth in solo blocks with 91, is seventh all time on USC's career total blocking list with 340 and is eighth on the career block assists list with 249 . . . 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's 10-1 start was its best since 1991 when it opened 14-1 . . . USC is outhitting opponents .281-.144 . . . 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 169-83 (.671) record with the Women of Troy and an impressive 368-161 (.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 been on fire all season, hitting a team-high .475 (182-32-316). She has led the nation in hitting for 3 consecutive weeks (through Sept. 28). 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-highest match hitting percentage in school history (min. 15 attempts). On the year for USC, Marinkovic is first in service aces (13) and second in kills per game (4.23) and blocks per game (1.44). 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.
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 (201), kills per game (4.47) and digs (127). 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. Her 16 kills and 11 digs against California (10/4) marked her seventh double-double in 13 matches and the 28th 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 521 assists and an average of 12.71 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 71 blocks, averaging 1.54 per game. One of USC's steadiest players, she is the only member of the team who has appeared in all 46 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, had 8 blocks vs. Stanford (10/3) 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 career highs in kills (13) and digs (18). Polk is second on the team with 96 digs and fourth in kills with 94. 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.
JEANNE VETTER -- The only senior on the team, Jeanne Vetter has started USC's last 6 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 tied for second-high in service aces with 12, including 4 against Villanova (9/5). She is fifth on the team in digs with 64.
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 sixth on the team with 62 digs and has 23 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 15 kills and 22 digs in 11 games as a reserve and Munneke has 75 assists in 8 games. Corpuz has played in 4 games, Peterson 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 3-2 against ranked teams so far with wins over No. 6 Michigan State, No. 22 Colorado and No. 15 Arizona and losses to No. 6 Washington State and No. 4 Stanford (rankings at the time of the match).
USC IN THE PAC-10 -- Jasmina Marinkovic leads the Pac-10 in hitting percentage (.475), is fifth in block average (1.44), sixth in kill average (4.23) and 10th in ace average (0.30). Janice Mounts is second in assist average (12.71). Jennifer Kessy is fourth in kill average (4.47) and ninth in digs (2.82). Alaina Kipps is fourth in block average (1.54). As a team, USC leads the conference in service aces (1.89), is second in hitting percentage (.281) and fifth in blocks (3.20). The Women of Troy are first in the following opponent categories: digs (10.48), kills (12.24) and assists (10.91). USC is second in opponent aces (0.98) and third in opponent hitting percentage (.144). Shannon Redfern's 7 aces in a match are high for the Pac-10.
OREGON -- The Ducks (7-9, 0-5), under third-year coach Cathy Nelson, are in the midst of a 7-match losing streak after opening the season 7-2. They are led by junior outside hitter Madeline Ernst's 167 kills, senior outside hitter Alison Pepe's 135 digs and senior middle blocker Tia Stewart's 63 blocks. Senior setter Casey Crisler has 640 assists. Oregon is hitting only .200 for the season.
OREGON STATE -- The Beavers (10-7, 2-3), under fifth-year coach Jeff Mozzochi, have won 3 in a row and 7 of their last 10. Senior outside hitter/middle blocker Heather Lowe has a team-high 266 kills and senior middle blocker/outside hitter Magan Prieto has 194 kills and a team-high 67 blocks. Senior setter Miya Malauulu has handled most of the setting chores and has a team-high 563 assists.
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: "I have mixed feelings about our weekend. Against Stanford, we showed signs of really competing at a high level, but we couldn't maintain any consistency. We need to achieve that if we hope to become one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the nation. We had some of the same problems against California, but I'm happy we got the win. Oregon and Oregon State are both dangerous teams, especially when we have to play them on the road. I expect hard-fought battles both nights."
Team Pac-10 Overall Stanford 5-0 14-2 Wash. St. 5-1 17-1 USC 4-2 11-2 Washington 4-2 9-6 Arizona 3-2 11-2 Oregon St. 2-3 10-7 UCLA 2-4 6-5 Arizona St. 1-4 10-6 California 1-4 6-8 Oregon 0-5 7-9
USA Today/AVCA Coaches Pollas of 10/7/97
1. Penn State (60)
2. Long Beach State
8. Washington State
9. UC Santa Barbara
14. Texas A&M
16. Loyola Marymount
19. Michigan State
20. Colorado State