Women's Volleyball

Lions Make it Back-to-Back NCAA Appearances

Michelle Look and the Lions celebrated their second straight trip to the NCAA Championship in 2004.
Michelle Look and the Lions celebrated their second straight trip to the NCAA Championship in 2004.

July 20, 2005

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LOOKING BACK...
After posting his 15th winning season in 15 years at the helm of the Loyola Marymount women's volleyball program, Head Coach Steve Stratos and the Lions finished the 2004 season 17-12. LMU participated in its ninth NCAA Tournament in 2004, facing host and 15th-ranked UCLA in Westwood's Pauley Pavilion. The Lions (17-12) earned an at-large invitation to the NCAA Championship for the second straight season and played the match-up with crosstown opponent UCLA (21-11) for the first time since 1990. Utah and Long Beach State joined LMU and the Bruins in the bracket.

THE LMU vs. UCLA ALL-TIME SERIES...
Prior to the 2004 tournament match-up, LMU and UCLA last met on September 26, 1990, with the Bruins taking the 3-0 win. It was their sixth program win over the Lions, and they now hold the 7-1 all-time advantage. LMU and UCLA had four opponents in common in 2004 in Cal State Northridge, Santa Clara, Washington State, and Pepperdine. The Lions went 3-3 in matches against those opponents, while the Bruins went 4-1 against those same teams. UCLA was led this season by senior libero Chrissie Zartmann, who was named to the All-Pac-10 first-team for the third straight season.

LMU AND NCAA POSTSEASON TRADITION...
Making its ninth NCAA postseason appearance, LMU volleyball looked to pick up where it left off last season. In all, the Lions have advanced as far as the Sweet Sixteen (1996). It was in their 1986 first round appearance, however, that the Lions posted their only victory over then-Pac-10 Champion UCLA, a 3-2 win on December 4. The Lions lost the first two games 1-15 and 9-15, before winning three straight games 15-8, 15-12, 15-14 to advance to the NCAA West Regional against Stanford.

NERISON NAMED FIRST-TEAM ALL-WCC...
For the second straight season, senior Kelli Nerison was selected to the All-WCC first-team. Nerison, the Lions' middle blocker, led the Lions to a 12-4 record at home, collecting two WCC Player of the Week awards and the LMU/Enterprise Student-Athlete of the Month award for October along the way. Nerison, known her dominant blocking, has spent the entire season among the nation's top ten in blocks per game. She closed the regular season averaging 1.72 blocks. Nerison was joined by three other Lions on this season's WCC honor roll. Junior middle blocker Dina DeBernardi, freshman outside hitter Heather Hughes, and senior setter Nicole Oehlman each earned honorable mention All-WCC honors.

CSUN EDGES LMU 3-2 IN REGULAR SEASON FINALE...
Playing to the full five games for the second time in five days, LMU fell to Cal State Northridge 3-2 in the regular season finales for both teams. CSUN edged the Lions 30-25, 30-32, 30-28, 24-30, 15-12, to give LMU just its fourth loss in Gersten Pavilion this season. Freshman Heather Hughes and junior Krista Houseman each tallied 13 kills for the Lions, with Hughes chipping in 17 digs. Senior Dina DeBernardi added nine kills and six blocks, while libero Michelle Look recorded a career-high 32 digs.

LMU CLOSES WCC WITH WIN OVER #23 SANTA CLARA...
In a perfect script for Senior Saturday, senior Jody Carlson had the match of her career, leading LMU to a 3-1 win over 23rd-ranked Santa Clara 25-30, 30-25, 30-22, 30-25 with 17 kills and a career-high six blocks. The senior also shared the spotlight with a redshirt freshman, as Jania Motton tallied a career-high 17 kills to help cap off a perfect 5-0 Saturday for LMU Athletics. With the victory closing the 2004 WCC season, a LMU win and Pepperdine loss to San Diego leaves the Lions in sole possession of fourth place in the tough volleyball conference. 15th-ranked San Diego, 16th-ranked Saint Mary's, and 23rd-ranked Santa Clara claimed the first through third spots. Carlson, who has historically played well against the Broncos, hit .630 without a single error in her 27 swings. Carlson and Motton were joined by senior Kelli Nerison and true freshman Heather Hughes, who also tallied double-digit kills. LMU out-blocked the top-25 team 14.0 to 10.0.

LMU THREE POINTS SHY OF HANDING USD FIRST WCC LOSS...
Reigning WCC Player of the Week Kelli Nerison had LMU within three points of handing the 15th-ranked USD its first WCC loss thanks to her 19 kill, 11 block double-double performance. The Toreros held on to edge the Lions 16-14 in game five to take the match 3-2 in Gersten Pavilion 26-30, 31-29, 28-30, 30-20, 16-14. Nerison hit .528 without a single attack error as she continued her torrid pace recording 53 kills and 26 blocks over the last three matches. As a team, LMU out-blocked the Toreros 18.0 to 5.0 as Nicole Oehlman, Dina DeBernardi, and Heather Hughes each added five blocks. Three Lions put up double-digit numbers as Hughes and Oehlman joined Nerison.

NERISON RECEIVES SECOND PLAYER OF THE WEEK SELECTION...
Senior Kelli Nerison received her second conference player of the week selection of the season after leading the Lions to a 2-0 week. Nerison led the Lions to an undefeated week in WCC play to keep LMU in contention for a third place conference finish. In her final weekend of regular season road play, the Lions' middle blocker tallied 34 kills, 15 blocks, and hit .509 over the two matches against Gonzaga and Portland. She finished her seven games played with 4.86 kills per game. The weekly honor is Nerison's second selection of the season, as the Laguna Niguel, Calif., native also earned the nod on October 11. She was also named the LMU/Enterprise Rent-a-Car Student-Athlete of the Month just last week for her play during the month of October.

LMU RETIRES KIMBALL'S #18...
On November 19, a fourth volleyball jersey was unveiled in the rafters of Gersten Pavilion. That jersey displayed the number 18 and the name Kimball, in honor of LMU volleyball standout Kealani Kimball. Kimball became just the fourth volleyball player in LMU history to have her number retired, an honor reserved for the top athlete, student, and person. Her jersey joined those of three other LMU volleyball greats: Tracy Holman (1994-97), Sarah McFarland (1997-2000), and Mardell Wrensch (1992-95).

VOLLEYBALL ALUMS TO BE INDUCTED INTO LMU HALL OF FAME...
With many of the jerseys already hanging in the rafters of Gersten Pavilion with their numbers retired, the 2005 Inductees to the LMU Hall of Fame are some of the most recognized and accomplished former student-athletes in the history of LMU athletics. The LMU Hall of Fame Class of 2005 includes Terry Buckley ('57), Hank Gathers ('91), Tracy Holman ('98), Bo Kimble ('91), Anthony Napolitano ('94), Mardell Wrensch ('96) and the 1989-90 Men's Basketball Team. The 2005 class will be inducted into the hall during the LMU Hall of Fame Dinner on Friday, Jan. 28 on the campus of LMU. The formal induction ceremony will be held during the dinner while the new inductees will be recognized during halftime of the LMU vs. Pepperdine men's basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 29. As a group, the 2005 Hall of Fame class won 10 conference championships, 18 all-conference honors, nine academic all-conference honors, three All-American honors, a trip to the Sweet 16 in volleyball and the Elite Eight in men's basketball. With those honors, it is no surprise that four of them have their numbers retired. Gathers and Kimble both had their numbers retired in 2000, and joined the retired jerseys of Wrensch and Holman of women's volleyball. While Gathers and Kimble and the rest of the 1989-90 men's basketball are the most remembered student-athletes at LMU, Wrensch and Holman were key in putting LMU women's volleyball among the nation's elite. Holman was the first student-athlete in LMU history to win four straight first-team all-conference honors in the West Coast Conference. She helped the women's volleyball team to three straight WCC titles in 1994-96. The 1996 squad rivals the 1989-90 men's basketball team as the best LMU squads of all-time. Holman helped that team to the 1996 Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, going 26-3 overall, a perfect 14-0 in the WCC and advancing to the Pacific Region semifinals. A teammate of Holman's for two seasons, Wrensch was a part of the first two title runs, winning it in her junior and senior campaigns. She was a three-time first-team All-WCC selection in her tenure and was named Academic All-Conference all four years.

STRATOS GETS #300 VS. PORTLAND...
The Lions' 3-0 sweep of Portland gave LMU Head Coach Steve Stratos his 300th career victory, making him just the second coach in WCC volleyball history to reach the milestone. With the 300 career wins, Stratos joins current Pepperdine coach Nina Matthies as the only two volleyball coaches in WCC history to reach the milestone. Stratos defeated Matthies the previous Friday for his 299th victory. The 15-year head coach is now the fourth active LMU coach with 300 wins, as Gary Ferrin (softball), Steve Aggers (basketball), and Jamie Sanchez (tennis) have each accomplished the feat. The win kicked-off the campus-wide Madness at Midnight celebration, which continued in Gersten Pavilion following the Lions' sweep.

SENIORS LIFT LMU OVER WAVES...
Nicole Oehlman tallied triple-double stats in front of Gersten Pavilion's largest crowd since 1996 to lead Loyola Marymount to the 3-1 win over local rival Pepperdine in WCC action. The Lions defeated the Waves 30-20, 30-27, 20-30, 30-25, earning LMU's first win over Pepperdine since 2000 in front of 1,142 fans. Oehlman tallied 39 assists, 10 kills, and 12 digs as the Lions improved to 8-1 in Gersten Pavilion. Fellow senior Kelli Nerison added 19 kills and 10 blocks, hitting .471 on the night. In addition to Oehlman's triple-double, Nerison and Hughes posted double-double numbers. Nerison ended a big week, tallying 43 kills and 14 blocks in two matches. It was the first career triple-double for the setter and the largest LMU volleyball crowd since the Lions hosted the playoffs in 1996.

NERISON NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK...
The WCC named Kelli Nerison its Player of the Week, after the senior led LMU through an exciting 2-0 week, defeating then-No. 13 UC Santa Barbara and local rival Pepperdine 3-1. LMU's middle-blocker recorded 43 kills in two matches (eight games total) for a 5.38 kill per game average. She notched a new career-high 24 kills against UCSB. Nerison added 14 blocks, including six solo blocks, for a 1.75 block per game average. On the week, Nerison hit .500, with .75 service aces per game. At the time of the award, Nerison led the WCC and ranked seventh in the nation in blocks, and ranked second in the conference in hitting percentage. The 2003 honorable mention AVCA All-America was the WCC 2003 October Player of the Month, but received her first career Player of the Week recognition this week.

OELHMAN TALLIES FIRST CAREER TRIPLE-DOUBLE...
Nicole Oehlman came up big when the Lions' needed it most, tallying her first career triple-double to lift the Lions past local rival Pepperdine in WCC action. Oehlman tallied 39 assists, 10 kills, and 12 digs, for the only triple-double of the past two seasons for the Lions. One of just four players in the nation to achieve the feat last week, Oehlman was listed in the AVCA's triple-double club for the week.

LIONS KNOCK-OFF #13 UC SANTA BARBARA...
The Lions defeated 13th-ranked UC Santa Barbara 3-1 in Santa Barbara. It was LMU's second straight win over the Gauchos (9-2), as senior Kelli Nerison led the Lions to the 31-29, 30-27, 17-30, 33-31 victory. Nerison tallied a career-high 24 kills, hitting .526. Freshman Heather Hughes added 18 kills and 12 digs, with nine kills in game one alone. Tuesday's contest gave the Lions back-to-back wins over a top-15-ranked UCSB, but it marked LMU's first victory in the Thunderdome since 1995.

OELHMAN FIRST LMU/ENTERPRISE STUDENT-ATHLETE OF THE MONTH...
With the competition in the month of September over, LMU Athletics announced Nicole Oehlman and Endre Rex-Kiss as the September Enterprise Rent-A-Car/LMU Student-Athlete of the Month for their efforts in the field of play to start the 2004-05 school year. For the senior Oehlman of the women's volleyball team, it is her first Student-Athlete of the Month honor. Oehlman helped her team start the season at 8-4. Oehlman was named the WCC Player of the Week on Sept. 13, as she helped the Lions climb back into the nation's top-20. She was the first Player of the Week of the 2004 season after receiving MVP honors at the LMU Furama Hotel Volleyball Invitational. Oehlman and Lions defeated Washington State to defend their tournament title. As the team's setter, Oehlman led the team to hit better than .275 five times, including one of the program's best all-time hitting percentage of .467 against San Diego State last week. Oehlman and the Lions will start conference play this weekend with 11-1 Saint Mary's on Friday and San Francisco on Saturday.

GLAXOSMITHKLINE CLASSIC...
Junior Krista Houseman earned her first collegiate all-tournament selection at North Carolina's GlaxoSmithKline Classic just after LMU dropped its final match of the tournament to Rice (8-3) 30-23, 30-21, 30-28. For the third straight match, Houseman led the Lions with 12 kills and three blocks. Freshman Heather Hughes was one dig shy of a double-double performance, posting 11 kills and nine digs. Senior Kelli Nerison had ten blocks on the night, as the Lions out-blocked Rice 12.0 to 9.0. The Lions went 0-3 at the tough GlaxoSmithKline Classic, but placed Houseman on the all-tournament team after she tallied 53 kills on the weekend. The accolade marked the first all-tournament selection for the junior outside hitter, who has equaled or passed her former career-high kill mark (12) in seven of LMU's 11 matches this season.

OEHLMAN NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK...
Senior Nicole Oehlman was named the WCC Player of the Week as LMU climbed back into the nation's top-20. Oehlman is LMU's first volleyball player of the week of the 2004 campaign after receiving MVP honors at the 2004 LMU Furama Hotel Volleyball Invitational where LMU defeated Washington State to defend its tournament title. The Lions' setter led the team to .327, .246, and .315 hitting percentages while collecting 130 assists on the weekend. Oehlman also added 17 kills, including seven in the title game against Washington State. She hit .714 against Miami in the opening match of the tournament and tallied seven blocks, 19 digs, and five service aces on the weekend to lead LMU to the title and a 4-0 run this week. This week's accolade marks the senior's third WCC Player of the Week selection.

LMU WINS FURAMA HOTEL INVITE...
LMU claimed the 2004 LMU Furama Hotel Invitational by defeating Washington State in Gersten Pavilion 26-30, 30-23, 30-21, 30-22. The Lions fought to win three straight games after WSU took game one. Setter Nicole Oehlman was named tournament MVP after her 50 assist, seven kill performance Saturday night. She also led the Lion offense to a .315 team third game. Junior Dina DeBernardi and freshman Heather Hughes also represented LMU on the all-tournament team. Jennifer Todd (WSU), Kelly Rosin (WSU), Val Tipiana (Miami), and Rachel Torblaa (Cincinnati) rounded out the all-tournament selections.

LMU FALLS TO TENNESSEE IN TITLE GAME...
After a 2-0 start at the LMU/Four Points Sheraton Classic, No. 18 Loyola Marymount volleyball dropped a tough 3-0 match to Tennesee Saturday night in Gersten Pavilion. The Lady Vols hit .348 as a team en route to the tournament title. With both teams entering the match-up 2-0, the scheduled 7:30 p.m. match in the round robin served as the title game. LMU, the defending tournament champions, hit .325 in game one, but dropped off to .026 as Tennessee took advantage of the match momentum. Seniors Dina DeBernardi and Jacene Dimson represented LMU on the All-Tournament team, while Tennessee's Yuliya Stoyanova and Michelle Piantadosi shared the honors as well. Villanova and Duke, who played for third place in what turned out to be the tournament's consolation match, placed local product Celine Nguyen (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) and Ali Hausfeld on the team. Tournament MVP honors went to Tennessee's Kristen Andre (Kelseyville, Calif.), who hit .435 with 13 kills in the title game.

THE STATS ON STRAT...
Head Coach Steve Stratos completed his 15th campaign at the helm of the program with a 15th straight winning season. In his time at LMU, Stratos has led the Lions to nine 20-win seasons and ten postseason appearances, including four consecutive appearances from 1997-2000. Stratos has posted a career total of 305-142, the highest winning percentage in LMU volleyball history. In league action, he owns a record of 150-60. Posting 150 career conference victories, Stratos ranks second among all-time WCC coaches.

 

 

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