Cougars to Make 23rd NCAA Tournament Appearance

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    By John Gale

    BYU”s women”s volleyball team will make its 23rd appearance in the 26-year history of the NCAA Women”s Volleyball Championship, with a match Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006, against UC Santa Barbara.

    The match will take place at the Galen Center on the Campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. It starts at 6 p.m. MST.

    The Cougars slipped to No. 22 in the CSTV/AVCA poll after falling to San Diego State in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament, but they earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. BYU enters the tournament with a record of 24-5.

    “It feels real good, especially because we didn”t go deep into the conference tournament,” outside hitter Chelsea Goodman said. “We felt like we had a good chance, but we still had that ”if.” When we saw our name on the screen, we were all freaking out.”

    The Cougars are 16th in the NCAA in hitting percentage. Middle blocker Lindsy Hartsock is 20th in the nation in hitting percentage, while setter Amy Schlauder ranks 24th nationally in assists.

    The Gauchos (19-11) have never missed the NCAA Tournament. Middle blocker Olivia Waldowski leads the team, ranking 13th in NCAA in hitting percentage. Outside hitter Jamie Garbisch averages 3.98 kills per game.

    “We know that they”re a physical, athletic team that system-wise is a little bit like us,” BYU coach Jason Watson said. “They”re a really good team.”

    The teams had two common opponents during the regular season. The Cougars defeated second-seeded Stanford and won two matches against UNLV, while both teams swept the Gauchos.

    The Cougars have a record of 4-2 against tournament teams. In addition to the win over Stanford, BYU also won two matches against Colorado State and a match against Arkansas. They lost two matches against 11th-ranked Utah.

    Should the Cougars win, they will advance to play the winner of the match between fifth-seeded USC (25-4) and Mississippi (19-12). The second round match will take place Friday at 8 p.m. MST.

    The Trojans are 13th in the NCAA in assists and 20th in kills. Outside hitter Asia Kaczor ranks 14th in the country in kills while libero Debora Seilhamer is seventh in the country in digs.

    Live statistics, audio and video for the matches will all be available free of charge from the schedule portion of the team”s page on byucougars.com.

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