No. 10 USC Travels 2,118 Miles For This Weekend's Tournament
Women of Troy face tough challenges at Gamecock Invitational in Columbia, S.C.
Sept. 6, 2006
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The No. 10 USC women's volleyball team (6-0) -- winners of six national championships -- travels cross-country to Columbia, S.C., for the 2006 Gamecock Invitational (Sept. 8-9). USC will play two matches on Friday against Florida State (5-0) at noon (Eastern time) and host South Carolina (7-1) at 8 p.m. and conclude with a match against St. John's (6-0) on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Week In Review
USC defeated two Top 25 teams to stay perfect at 6-0 last weekend at the USC/LMU Classic. The Women of Troy opened with a 3-0 sweep over Fresno State using 19.5 team blocks to dominate the Bulldogs.
In the 3-1 win over No. 24 Utah, junior Diane Copenhagen came within one of tying her personal best for kills with 23 as junior teammate Asia Kaczor recorded 18 kills. Junior Jessica Gysin had the double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs.
The final match of the weekend came against No. 11 Tennessee and the Women of Troy set the tempo early, winning the first game, 30-11. Senior All-America libero Debora Seilhamer vaulted into third place on USC's all-time list for digs with 21 for the match. Kaczor registered a season-high 24 kills with Copenhagen adding 18 kills.
Florida State Notes
Florida State is 5-0 on the season after winning its own FSU Invitational last weekend, defeating Stetson (3-0), South Alabama (3-0) and Eastern Illinois (3-0). Head coach Todd Kress is 73-56 in his fifth season at Florida State. Eight letterwinners return from last year's team that went 13-17 overall. Senior middle blocker Sarah Griffin was named tournament MVP last weekend after collecting 33 kills and a .519 hitting percentage. This is the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
South Carolina Notes
South Carolina is 7-1 on the season after going 4-0 at the Clemson Tournament last weekend. Head coach Nancy Somera, who played at USC from 1985-88, is 20-15 in her second season at South Carolina. Senior outside hitter Shonda Cole has a 5.89 kpg average this season. Nine letterwinners are back from last year's team that finished 13-14 overall. USC won the only match between the two schools (3-0 on Aug. 30, 2003 in Los Angeles).
St. John's Notes
St. John's is 6-0 on the season after winning the William & Mary Tournament last weekend. Head coach Joanne Persico-Smith is 234-155 in her 13th season at St. John's. Eight letterwinners return from last year's team that went 23-9 on the season. Senior middle hitter Caitlin Rimgalia leads the team with 67 kills and a .509 hitting percentage. This is the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
Court of Dreams
This will be USC's final year at the Lyon Center before the Women of Troy move to the brand-new Galen Center in October. The 10,258-seat arena is being built on the corner of Figueroa St. and Jefferson Blvd., adjacent to the USC campus. The arena is named after Lou and Helene Galen, who generously donated $35 million towards the project that will house the USC men's and women's volleyball and basketball programs.
Eight letterwinners return from last year's squad that went 17-11 (12-6 in the Pac-10 for a fourth-place finish) and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Senior libero Debora Seilhamer returns, along with starters Diane Copenhagen, Katelyn Bishop and Kelli Tennant. The team's other three seniors are Alli Dillon, Kimi Freeburg and Annie Montgomery. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Jessica Gysin has battled injuries in her first two seasons, but figures to be in the starting lineup. The six newcomers to the team are freshmen setter Taylor Carico, freshmen defensive specialists Alli Hillgren and Chelsea Wilson and junior transfers Bethany Johansen (UC Santa Barbara), Asia Kaczor (College of Southern Idaho) and Marta Siemiatkowska (College of Southern Idaho).
On Nov. 25, 2005, USC head coach Mick Haley recorded his 1,000th collegiate win in the Women of Troy's 3-0 win against California. He earned his 900th win as a women's coach on Nov. 4, 2005, at Oregon State. His 29-year career includes seven years (combined men's and women's) at Kellogg Community College in Michigan (1973-79), 17 years at Texas (1980-96) and five years at USC (2000-present). He also served as head coach for the U.S. Women's National Team from 1997-2000, including the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
The Power of the Pac-10
Six Pac-10 teams are ranked among the top 25 in the 2006 CSTV/AVCA current poll (the most among any other conference), including No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 Washington, No. 8 Stanford, No. 10 USC, No. 13 California and No. 21 Arizona.
"Seil" The Deal
Senior libero Debora Seilhamer (Ponce, Puerto Rico/ Colegio Ponceño) has established herself as one of the top liberos in the nation. Seilhamer earned All-America second team status and All-Pac-10 honors last season after posting a school record 696 digs and 6.82 dpg average, surpassing both records she had set in her 2004 sophomore season.
During the first weekend's opening matches in San Marcos, Texas, Seilhamer posted 67 digs for a 7.44 dpg clip. She has 134 kills on the season with a 6.70 dpg average.
Currently, she holds the school career record with a 4.79 dpg average (Katie Haller, 1990-93, is second with a 4.01 average) and is third all-time with 1,484 digs. She needs 52 digs to tie Nancy Hillman (1985-88) for second and can tie Haller for the school record with a total of 218 in 2006.
Seilhamer holds the school records for most digs in a three-game, four-game and five-game match. Her three-game record came on Dec. 3, 2005, with 30 against Pepperdine in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
She set a school record for most digs in a four-game match with 39 on Nov. 19, 2005, at Arizona State, surpassing a record she tied earlier in the season (Sept. 9 against Notre Dame) with 36.
She earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors last year after recording 57 digs in two matches (8.14 dpg average) on Oct. 21 and 22 against Arizona State and No. 8 Arizona. With 27 digs against ASU, she set a school record for most digs in a three-game match (which she later surpassed). She also recorded her 1,000th career dig in the match. She was perfect in 21 serving attempts against Arizona and did not record a reception error. On Nov. 12 against Washington State, Seilhamer set a new three-game school record with 29 digs against the Cougars.
She tied the school record on Sept. 9, 2005, against No. 19 Notre Dame for most digs (36) in a four-game match, tying a mark held by Megan McAllister (10/21/89) and Katie Haller (10/24/92). Seilhamer had 82 digs in three matches against Top 25 teams (Notre Dame, No. 6 Florida and No. 13 Texas A&M) at the UTSA Dome Rally (Sept. 9-11) and was named to the all-tournament team.
Seilhamer earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention in 2004 and set a USC record (and five-game record) with 45 digs in the match on Nov. 12 against UCLA.
The Capital of Denmark
Junior outside hitter Diane Copenhagen (Saratoga/St. Francis HS) opened the season with 34 kills and 23 digs in three matches to earn all-tournament team honors at the CenturyTel Premier Tournament in San Marcos, Texas.
She is second on the team this season with 86 kills and a 4.30 kpg average. Copenhagen had 23 kills, one off her career best, on Sept. 2 in a 3-1 win against No. 24 Utah at the Lyon Center.
She was third on the team last year with a 3.85 ppg average, along with 314 kills (3.27 kpg). She set a career-high with 24 kills in a five-game loss to No. 6 Florida on Sept. 10, 2005, at the UTSA Dome Rally in San Antonio.
Copenhagen played at the 2005 U-20 FIVB World Championships in Ankara, Turkey, with the U.S. Junior National Team as Team USA finished in a tie for 11th place.
CSI: Los Angeles
This season, USC welcomes to two junior transfers from last year's junior college national champions at the College of Southern Idaho. Both players are also from Poland.
6-4 opposite/outside hitter Asia Kaczor (pronounced AH-shuh KAHK-chor) will be counted on to generate points for the Women of Troy this season. She was the 2005 NJCAA Player of the Year after leading the team with 605 kills on the season (4.96 kpg) and a .456 percentage. She recorded 89 service aces (0.73 apg), 25 assists, 62 blocks (0.51 bpg) and 307 digs (2.52 dpg). Kaczor has been a member of the Polish National Team program since 2000.
Kaczor earned most valuable player honors at the 2006 CenturyTel Premier Tournament in San Marcos, Texas, after recording 42 kills (15, 14 and 13 kills respectively) in three matches. She hit .370 on the weekend, adding five digs and seven block assists.
This season, Kaczor leads the Women of Troy with 93 kills and a 4.65 kpg average. She ripped a season-high 24 kills in USC's 3-1 win over No. 11 Tennessee on Sept. 3 at the Lyon Center.
6-1 middle blocker Marta Siemiatkowska (pronounced MAR-tuh shay-mee-uht-KOW-ska) recorded 267 kills (2.12 kpg) for a .416 hitting percentage last season with 58 service aces (0.46 sapg), 154 digs (1.22 dpg) and led the team in blocks with 192 (1.52 bpg). In her 2004 freshman season, she registered 209 kills (2.65 kpg) with 36 service aces (0.46 sapg), 188 digs (2.38 dpg) and 103 blocks (1.41 bpg).
Freshman setter Taylor Carico (Manhattan Beach/Mira Costa HS) takes center stage on the NCAA Division I level this season as the Women of Troy's No. 1 setter. She has 242 assists (12.10 apg) this season with 19 kills (0.73 kpg), 51 digs (2.55 dpg) and 15 blocks (0.75 bpg). On Sept. 2 against No. 24 Utah, she collected a season-high 62 assists, three kills, eight digs and two block assists.
Carico won the 2005 Andi Collins Award as the nation's top senior high school setter according to PrepVolleyball.com. She was also CIF Co-Player of the Year and state most valuable player in her senior season.
On the club level, she won most valuable player honors for the 18 Open Division this summer at the Junior Olympics and was a member of the 2004 and 2005 Youth National Team.
It has taken two years, but USC fans finally get a chance to see the exploits of redshirt sophomore outside hitter Jessica Gysin (Los Gatos/St. Francis HS). Hailed as one of the top high school players in 2004, Gysin has battled injuries in her first two seasons. She sprained her ankle in 2004 and suffered a left knee injury in 2005.
Gysin started out of the blocks in fine fashion with 13 kills, seven digs and two solo blocks in USC's 3-0 win on Aug. 26 at Texas State.
She is third on the team with 65 kills and a 3.25 kpg average. She also has 47 digs (2.35 dpg) and has recorded three double-doubles for kills and digs this season.
Bethany's Block Party
Junior middle blocker/opposite hitter transfer Bethany Johansen (San Jose/UC Santa Barbara) adds an experienced player to USC's lineup. She leads the team with a .419 hitting percentage (42-6-86) and 21 total blocks (1.05 bpg).
On Sept. 3 against No. 11 Tennessee, she had a season-high 11 kills and added three block assists in USC's 3-1 victory. Against Fresno State on Sept. 1, she recorded a career-high eight blocks against the Bulldogs (1 solo, seven assists).
Last season with the Gauchos, she led the team with a .375 hitting percentage, posting 137 kills (1.40 kpg) with 66 blocks (0.67 bpg) and 24 digs (0.24). She was named to the 2005 Big West Conference All-Academic team.
The Pahl Bearer
Sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Kelli Tennant (Temecula/Chaparral HS) lists former USC All-America middle blocker Jennifer Pahl (1998-2001) as her biggest sports hero. Tennant is wearing Pahl's number (26) as a tribute to her. Pahl grew up near Tennant in Murrieta, Calif.
This season, she has 11 kills (0.73 kpg) and 15 blocks (1.00).
Tennant earned 2005 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team honors after recording 188 kills (1.84 kpg) and 84 blocks (0.82 bpg). She finished fourth on the squad with a 2.52 ppg average.
For the 2006 season, seniors Alli Dillon (Long Beach/Wilson HS) and Kimi Freeburg (New Castle, Ind./New Castle Chrysler HS) will serve as team co-captains. Both Dillon and Freeburg are setters with Dillon getting additional play as a defensive specialist. Dillon has played in 87 matches during her first three seasons (she transferred to USC after her 2003 freshman season at San Jose State) while Freeburg has appeared in 78 matches for the Women of Troy.
Dads In The Pros
Two USC players this season have fathers with high-profile careers. Senior Annie Montgomery's dad, Mike, is the former head coach for the NBA's Golden State Warriors and longtime head coach at Stanford while freshman Chelsea Wilson's dad, Doug, is executive vice president and general manager for the NHL's San Jose Sharks.