WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE: The 14th-ranked University of San Diego women's volleyball team (0-0) will travel to Lafayette, Ind. to play in the Mortar Board Premier Tournament hosted by No. 9 Purdue University. On Friday, USD will begin the 2014 campaign with a 9 a.m. (PST) match against Louisiana State University, and they will play a night cap against the Boilermakers of Purdue at 4:30 p.m. (PST). USD then closes out the first week of play with a 4:00 p.m. (PST) match against South Florida on Saturday.
TOREROS IN SEASON OPENERS: The University of San Diego women's volleyball team has posted a 12-2 record in season-openers under the direction of 16th-year head coach Jennifer Petrie, with the only loss' coming in the 2004 and 2010 seasons. As a program, USD has posted a 25-10 overall record on opening day in the Division I era.
TOREROS TABBED SECOND IN WCC: After advancing to the 2013 NCAA Sweet-16, BYU was picked as the unanimous favorite to win the 2014 West Coast Conference Volleyball Championship. The top three teams were separated by 20 votes, with 11 points separating the Cougars from 2013 WCC champion San Diego in the annual preseason poll of the WCC's 10 coaches. BYU earned 81 points and all nine possible first place votes, while the Toreros collected 70 points with the remaining first place vote. San Diego also advanced to the 2013 NCAA Sweet-16. Saint Mary's earned 61 points for third place, while Pepperdine picked up 53 votes. The fifth through eighth spots were separated by just five votes. Loyola Marymount rounded out the top-five with 39 points, one spot in front of San Francisco in sixth place with 38 points. Pacific (36), Gonzaga (34), Santa Clara (28) and Portland (10) round out the survey. Seven programs placed at least one student-athlete on the preseason All-West Coast Conference Team. BYU, Pepperdine and Saint Mary's each collected a pair of preseason picks.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS: LSU has returning six starters and 11 total letterwinners from a squad that went 19-13 last season and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers were picked to finish sixth in a preseason SEC coaches poll. The LSU offense will look to returning All-American Briana Holman to help lead this team. Holman will be looking to expound on a rookie season that placed her with some of the best in the country, as the DeSoto, Texas, native started in 31 of 32 matches for the team during her freshman campaign. She finished second on the team with 391 kills, averaging 3.01 per set, while her defensive edge led to an SEC-leading 1.54 blocks per set, which was also fifth in the nation at the end of the season, totaling a freshman-record 200 for the year.
SCOUTING THE BOILMAKERS: Purdue enters the season ranked No. 9 in the preseason AVCA top-25 poll. The Boilermakers posted an overall record of 23-12 in 2013, and they made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, before falling to Wisconsin. This will be the first meeting between these two programs. Kiki Jones will be looked upon to help lead the Boilermaker team in 2014, after coming off a 2013 season that brought her AVCA All-America honorable mention and All-Northeast Region honors. She ranked 28th nationally in hitting percentage (.397), fourth best in the Big Ten and second on Purdue's season records list, and put up 2.15 kills per set and a team-best 1.21 blocks per set to go with 25 aces. She led the team in blocks 20 times and in kills four times.
SCOUTING THE BULLS: South Florida is coming off a 2013 season that saw the Bulls post an overall record of 17-15. This will be the first meeting between these two programs. USF's offense will look no further than reigning BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and 2013 American Player of the Year Erin Fairs to lead the way. Fairs, who notched 24 double-doubles in 31 matches played last season en route to an All-Region honorable mention, was a unanimous choice for the preseason all-conference team for the second straight season.
BROWN NAMED PRESEASON ALL-WCC: San Diego's senior middle/outside hitter Alaysia Brown was named to the preseason All-WCC team, as voted on by the league's head coaches. Brown, a 6-2 senior from Fresno, Calif., had a great 2013 campaign, as she recorded the second most kills on the team with 322 (2.95 kps), while hitting for a .282 clip, and was third on the team in blocks with 61. Brown figured a huge role in the Toreros bolstering their best overall record in program history, especially in a 17-match winning streak, that saw USD not only claim the WCC championship, but advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. During this 17-match winning streak, Brown recorded the second most kills with 188, while hitting for a .292 clip, and had they third most amount of blocks with 42. Brown was also selected as an AVCA All-American Honorable Mewntion in 2013.
CATCH THE ACTION: All of this week's matches will have a live stats link on usdtoreros.com. The Toreros showdown with Purdue will also carry a free audio link of the match, in addition to a watch link, that will cost fans $9.95 to watch the match. Both of these links can also be found on USDToreros.com.
THEW.TV: This season San Diego will be featured on the West Coast Conference's new digital platform, TheW.tv, 15 times. All 15 of these productions will have a multi-camera high definition broadcast with a play-by-play announcer. USD will have 13 home matches live on TheW.tv, and a pair of road matches, @ San Francisco (10/30) and @ Gonzaga (11/20), this season. All watch links for these matches can be found on the USD women's volleyball schedule page. The Toreros will also have a pair of televised matchers, a ESPNU broadcast @ Saint Mary's (10/8), and the seconde coming on BYUTV in Provo on Nov.14.
HUNTER IS BACK: San Diego sophomore libero Hunter Jennings is one of two All-WCC performers to return for the Toreros this season. Jennings had quite the rookie season for USD, as she was the Toreros serving specialist this past season, racking up a team-leading 20 aces. She primarily played in the back row for USD, and tallied 157 digs for the season. She twice tallied a career-high 13 digs in a match, both came against BYU, at home and in Provo, Utah. For her efforts a year ago, she was named to the All-WCC Freshman team.
A LOOK BACK: The USD women's volleyball team in coming off arguably the most successful season in program history, as the Toreros received a national ranking of No. 2, the highest for any USD athletic team in the Division I era, and they remained in the top-10 for a majority of the season. USD also captured its ninth WCC title, upended No. 1 ranked USC at the Jenny Craig Pavilion, hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Volleyball tournament, winning both matches to advance onto the Sweet 16 for the third time in program history. Head Coach Jennifer Petrie was also recognized as the AVCA Pacific South Region Coach of the Year, and three Toreros took home AVCA All-American accolades.
THE RANKINGS: The Toreros are entering the 2014 season ranked No. 14 in the preseason AVCA top-25 poll. The only other team ranked in this weekends field is the host Boilermakers, who check in at No. 9, after reaching the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament this past season. Volleyball Magazine has yet to release their preseason top-25 poll.
I NEED STATS STAT!: All San Diego volleyball home matches can be followed via Statbroadcast, on the Toreros athletic web site at usdtoreros.com. Statbroadcast is a real time update of the action. Selected San Diego road matches are also available via Gametracker and Statbroadcast. To see if live stats are available for a match, go to San Diego volleyball schedule page, and if any type of live stats are available, you will see those links there.