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Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics

WCC Play Begins; Zags At Santa Clara And At No.16 BYU

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 09/19/2012
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THIS WEEKEND: The Gonzaga University volleyball team begins its 2012 West Coast Conference portion of the schedule on the road. The Bulldogs face Santa Clara University Thursday in the Leavey Center at 6 p.m. Saturday the Zags battle undefeated BYU in the Smith Fieldhouse at noon.

ABOUT SANTA CLARA: The Santa Clara University Broncos host their first home match of the season when Gonzaga University visits Thursday. The Broncos finished 10-4 during the non-conference with recent victories over San Diego State University, Brown University and Cal State Fullerton. SCU features two players with more than 150 kills; 154 for junior Megan Anders and  167 for sophomore Taylor Milton. Santa Clara is coached by Jon Wallace in his 14th season at the helm. Last year, the Broncos finished seventh in the West Coast Conference with an 11-16 record.    

ABOUT BYU: The Cougars of BYU, at 12-0, are off to their best start since 2005. Ranked No. 16 in the AVCA Top 20 poll, the Cougars have swept six consecutive matches. BYU has won four tournaments and junior Jennifer Hamson has played a major role during the non-conference. Hamson has been named West Coast Conference Player of the Week twice, once on Aug. 27 and Sept. 10. BYU is is one of eight remaining undefeated teams in NCAA Division I volleyball. The Cougars have been coached by Shawn Olmstead since 2011 and last year BYU took third place in its first year in the WCC.   

ASU SHERATON INVITATIONAL RECAP: Last weekend, the Gonzaga University women's volleyball team traveled to Tempe, Ariz., for the ASU Sheraton Invitational. Although down 2-0 in their first two matches, the Bulldogs rallied and defeated Florida Atlantic University 3-2 and Villanova University 3-2. Gonzaga swept UC Riverside for the second time this season and battled Arizona State University for the tournament title Saturday night. ASU won the match and the Bulldogs finished second in the tournament. 

ASU SHERATON INVITATIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT: Redshirt freshman Savannah Blinn had another fantastic weekend at the ASU Sheraton Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. The Gonzaga University outside hitter was named to the all-tournament team, an honor she has gotten every weekend thus far, and left Tempe with 68 kills, 19 digs, 13 blocks and eight aces. Blinn set a career high in kills with 26 against Florida Atlantic University.

CAREER RECORDS: Last weekend at the ASU Sheraton Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., six Gonzaga University women's volleyball players set career highs. Against Florida Atlantic University, senior Terran Poindexter recorded two aces, sophomore Katie Rutherford had 34 assists and redshirt freshman Savannah Blinn had 26 kills. In the match against Villanova University,  redshirt freshman Deanna Nielson had five kills, three assists and 16 digs, and junior Kristina Lavrisha had 31 digs. Against Arizona State University, redshirt freshman Kalistina Takau picked up seven blocks.

SAVANNAH BLINN IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: Gonzaga University redshirt freshman Savannah Blinn  ranks No. 4 in the latest NCAA Division I statistics with 0.62 aces-per-set. The national leader is Lauren Wicinski of Michigan State University with 0.75. Blinn is also No. 22 with 4.89 points-per-set, the national leader Edina Begic of Arkansas Little Rock University has 6.02.

GONZAGA LEADING THE WCC: Entering West Coast Conference play, the Gonzaga Univeristy women's volleyball team leads all WCC schools with 1.63 aces-per-set. The Bulldogs are also second in the WCC with 2.56 blocks-per-set.

ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS:

Northwest Challenge: Savannah Blinn

Gonzaga Invitational:  Savannah Blinn , Kylie Edinger

UNLV Classic: Savannah Blinn, Kylie Edinger

ASU Sheraton Invitational: Savannah Blinn

SIX LETTERWINNERS RETURN IN 2012: Gonzaga returns six letterwinners from the 2011 season that is led by the senior trio of setter Mengya Wang, right side hitter Kylie Edinger and outside hitter Terran Poindexter. The three combined last season for 502 kills, 212 digs and 109 blocks for the Bulldogs. The Zags also have high expectations for junior libero Kristina Lavrisha, middle blocker Meredith Crenshaw and sophomore libero Kennedy Wesley.

GANTT BACK FOR HIS FOURTH SEASON: Gonzaga University women's volleyball head coach Dave Gantt returns for his fourth season at the helm of the Bulldogs. Gantt has previously coached at Montana State University and Oregon State University. For more information on Gantt, including his full bio, go to GoZags.com

BULLDOGS PICKED NINTH IN WCC COACHES PRESEASON POLL: The Gonzaga University women's volleyball team has been selected to finish ninth in the 2012 West Coast Conference season according to a preseason vote of the league's head coaches. The Bulldogs received 11 votes in this year's poll after losing three starters from last years team.

Women's Volleyball 2012 Preseason Poll (First place votes)

T-1. Saint Mary's - 59 (4)

T-1. San Diego - 59 (4)

3. Pepperdine - 53 (1)

4. BYU - 42

5. San Francisco - 33

T-6. Loyola Marymount - 27

T-6. Santa Clara - 27

8. Portland - 13

9. Gonzaga - 11

TWITTER: Yes, the Gonzaga University Bulldogs are on twitter! You can find us at www.twitter.com/ZagsVball. We provide inside scoop on all things volleyball as well as in-game updates for all home and road matches. CHECK US OUT!

FACEBOOK: The Gonzaga University women's volleyball team is on Facebook. Search for Gonzaga University women's volleyball when signed into Facebook and LIKE the page. Get inside scoop on the team, see photos from the season, read recaps of matches and watch video. ENJOY!

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