|Thursday||Gonzaga at #18 San Diego||7:00 p.m.||Live Stats||TheW.tv|
|Saturday||Portland at #18 San Diego||12:00 p.m.||Live Stats||TheW.tv|
WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE: The Toreros return to the Jenny Craig Pavilion this week. On Thursday they will host Gonzaga (11-7, 6-0), who at 6-0 in conference is the WCC's surprise team of 2017. On Saturday, USD takes on the Portland Pilots (13-5, 4-2), who were picked to finish third in the WCC Preseason Coaches Poll. Saturday's match is the annual Dig Pink match. Both matches will be streamed on TheW.tv.
HIGH PRAISE: Kristen Gengenbacher was named the WCC Player of the Week, after tallying 86 assists and 23 digs last week to help the Toreros earn road wins at Pacific (3-2) and Saint Mary's (3-0). In Thursday's win at Pacific, the senior setter recorded a double-double with 52 assists and a season-high 18 digs. On Saturday at Saint Mary's, Gengenbacher had 34 assists and helped the Toreros post a .344 hitting percentage, their second highest rate in a match this season. A three-year starter, Gengenbacher is averaging a career-high 11.16 assists per set, which is tops in the WCC and No. 25 nationally. Because of her setting, the Toreros rank in the top-10 in the nation in kills (7th/14.69) and assists (5th/13.85) per set.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: In last Thursday's 3-2 win at Pacific, the Toreros set season-highs for digs (65) and blocks (14) in a match. Kristen Gengenbacher had a season-high 18 digs, Lizzy Tardieu had 17 and freshman Roxie Wiblin had 11. Addie Picha & Kaity Edwards each collected seven blocks. Picha added nine more blocks in Saturday's sweep at Saint Mary's.
EFFICIENCY IS THE KEY: The Toreros are first in the WCC and 24th in the nation in hitting percentage (.269). They are led by Kaity Edwards' .431 hitting percentage, which is tops in the WCC and seventh in the nation. Addie Picha is third in the conference with a .360 hit percentage.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Kristen Gengenbacher and Roxie Wiblin both had double-doubles in the Toreros' 3-2 win at Pacific last Thursday, the first time this season two Toreros have done that in the same match. Gengenbacher had 52 assists and a season-high 18 digs for her fifth double-double, while Wiblin notched her first career double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Gonzaga is 11-7 and 6-0 in the WCC, after being picked to finish ninth in the preseason coaches poll... This is the first time in program history they have started conference play 6-0... Last week, they picked up wins against Pepperdine (3-2) and LMU (3-0) at home... As a team they rank ninth in the WCC in hitting percentage (.196) and kills per set (12.17)... Sarah Penner leads the team with 162 kills (2.42 per set)... Jenna Kuehn has two triple-doubles on the season, tied for the fourth most in the nation... Diane Nelson is in her seventh season at Gonzaga and second as head coach. Last season, she led the Zags to a 17-11 record, their best mark since 1994.
THE SERIES VS. GONZAGA: The Toreros are 49-9 all-time against Gonzaga... They have beaten the Bulldogs in 43 straight matches... The last time Gonzaga beat USD was September 30, 1994, a 3-1 Bulldogs win in Spokane.
SCOUTING THE PILOTS: Portland is 13-5 and 4-2 in the WCC... They ahve won four of their last five matches... Last week they were swept by LMU and beat Pepperdine 3-2... The Pilots are first in the conference in digs per set (16.11) and second in opponent hitting percentage (.180)... Cali Thompson is second in the WCC in assists per set (10.54) and Hannah Troutman is second in the conference in kills per set (4.11)... Head Coach Brent Crouch was the 2016 WCC Coach of the Year after leading the Pilots to 10 WCC wins, their most since joining the conference.
THE SERIES VS. PORTLAND The Toreros are 51-9 all-time against the Pilots, although Portland has won two of the last three matches... Before that, the Toreros had won 45 straight matches.
WCC DOMINANCE: Since Coach Petrie took over as head coach, the Toreros have been the top program in the WCC. Dating back to 1999, Petrie's first year as head coach, the Toreros have gone 214-64 (.770) in conference matches. Since 2004, the Toreros have taken first or second place in the WCC every year except for one.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Jayden Kennedy was named to the All-Tournament team for all three of the Toreros' preseason tournaments. Kaity Edwards and Kristen Gengenbacher earned that honor twice.
WELL-DESERVED: Associate Head Coach Brent Hilliard was named a finalist for the Southern California Indoor Volleyball Hall of Fame. As a powerful opposite player, Hilliard led Long Beach to the 1990 NCAA finals and in 1991 to its first NCAA title. He was the 1991 NCAA MVP, then the 1992 NCAA Player of the Year and finished as a three-time first team All-American. He then won an Olympic Games Bronze medal in 1992 as the team's youngest player and followed with a silver medal in 1993 Pan-American Games. He also won a bronze medal in the 1991 World Cup. 27 finalists were announced and 15 will be chosen in May of 2018.
SUMMER STORIES: Kristen Gengenbacher & Lauren Fuller were selected to be on the U.S. Collegiate National team this past summer. Gengenbacher represented the U.S. in Croatia and helped America win the European Global Challenge with a perfect 6-0 record. Fuller was with the team at their Minneapolis program, but was unable to play due to an injury. Fuller was joined in Minnesota by USD assistant Coach Marie Zidek, who served on the CNT coaching staff for the second straight summer.
PRESEASON PROPS: Kristen Gengenbacher and Kaity Edwards were selected to the All-WCC Preseason Team. Both Gengenbacher and Edwards were All-WCC honorable mention selections last season. Gengenbacher has led the team in assists the past two seasons as the team's starting setter. She enters the 2017 season with 2,518 career assists, the ninth most in program history. For the second summer in a row, she competed with the U.S. Collegiate National Team and helped the squad win the European Global Challenge in Croatia this past July. Edwards made an immediate impact in 2016, her first year with the Toreros after transferring from Santa Clara. She finished third on the team in kills (235, .364 percentage), total blocks (66) and block assists (58).
PICKED SECOND: The Toreros were picked to finish second in the preseason WCC Coaches Poll. USD received one first place vote and 72 total points in the preseason coaches poll, trailing only the 2016 champion, BYU, who had 81 points. Portland, fresh off the most successful season in program history was tabbed third with 58 points. Pacific was picked to finish fourth with 50 points. Santa Clara snared 48 points to round out the top-five of the survey, one point in front of sixth-place Pepperdine (47). Saint Mary's (35), Loyola Marymount (28), Gonzaga (21) and San Francisco (9) round out the survey.
BEST OF THE BEST: Head Coach Jennifer Petrie has built the Toreros in to one of best programs in the nation. In the past 21 seasons, USD has made the NCAA Tournament an incredible 19 times. Other accomplishments in that span include winning 15 NCAA Tournament matches, producing 13 All-Americans, winning nine WCC championships, having 10 WCC Players of the Year, 42 All-WCC first team honorees, four WCC Defensive Players of the Year, and three Sweet 16 appearances.
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