Volleyball Bears Head to West Coast for USD Invitational

Volleyball Bears Head to West Coast for USD Invitational

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Aug. 31, 2011

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Opponents: UC Riverside (1-3) Friday, September 2, 7 p.m.
Northeastern (2-0) Saturday, September 3, 2 p.m.
#20 San Diego (3-0) Saturday, September 3, 9 p.m.
Site: Jenny Craig Pavilion
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Radio: None
Live Audio: None
Live Stats: -- --
Live Video: USD match only at www.USDToreros.com

The Missouri State volleyball team continues its season-opening six-match road swing this weekend with a trip to the USD Invitational in San Diego, Calif. The Bears open with UC Riverside at 7 p.m. Friday, and play Northeastern at 2 p.m. Saturday before closing with the host and 20th-ranked San Diego Toreros at 9 p.m. Saturday.

The Opponents
UC Riverside is 1-3 with its victory coming against Fairfield. The Highlanders average one more kill per set than the opposition, but hit .177 compared to .277 for opponents. UCR also averages 15.0 digs, 1.1 aces and 0.4 blocks per set. Northeastern is 2-0 with wins against Fairleigh Dickinson and Central Connecticut State.
NU averages 15 kills per set on .236 hitting while keeping opponents to a .093 attack efficiency. The Huskies average 19.71 digs, 1.71 aces and 2.00 digs per set.
San Diego is 3-0 and ranked 20th in this week's AVCA poll. The Toreros led the nation in kills per set in 2010 and are off to a strong offensive start this year with a .266 hitting percentage and 14.73 kills per set. USD also averages 15.00 digs, 1.00 aces and 2.23 blocks per set.

The Series
Missouri State is 3-0 against UC Riverside, with victories coming in 1974 (at the AIAW National Tournament), 1977, and most recently in 2000.
The Bears won their only previous meeting with Northeastern, a 3-0 victory in 2000 during a trip to several schools in the Boston area.
Missouri State and San Diego have never met in volleyball.

Head Coach Melissa Stokes
Missouri State head coach Melissa Stokes (San Diego State, 1991) is 337-156 (.684) in her 16th season at Missouri State. A native of El Cajon, Calif., Stokes has guided Missouri State to an overall record of 260-98 (.726) and 153-45 (.773) in the Missouri Valley Conference since 2000. In 2003, the Bears were the MVC regular-season champions and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. MSU made a return trip to the NCAAs in 2005 after winning the MVC Tournament, and advanced to the second round for the first time in program history in 2006. MSU defeated Arkansas before falling to No. 13 Oklahoma in the second round, and has since added postseason bids in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Stokes came to Missouri State from the University of Idaho, where she helped the Vandals to four straight NCAA Tournament berths. As a setter at San Diego State, Stokes played four seasons and helped the Aztecs to two NCAA appearances. She coached the 300th victory of her Missouri State career against Delaware, Sept. 11, 2009. Stokes ranked 34th among active Division I coaches in win percentage entering 2011.

Quick Hits
• Head coach Melissa Stokes is climbing up the all-time MVC coaching lists in a number of categories. Listed below is the 16th-year coach's ranking in those categories. Lists are compiled based on statistics at Valley schools only:
• Third in total victories with 337
• Second in MVC victories (193)
• Fifth in win percentage overall (.684) and third among active MVC coaches
• Seventh in win percentage in MVC matches only (.715)

• Stokes picked up her 300th career victory with MSU's 3-1 win over Delaware on Sept. 11, 2009, and is three league wins away from tying the MVC record for conference victories at 196 with UNI's Iradge Ahrabi-Fard.

• Missouri State is 17-10 in five-set matches since the beginning of the 2007 season.

• Missouri State has finished in the top four of the MVC standings 12 years in a row. Only UNI can match that streak among league schools.

• MSU is 100-14 the last six seasons when winning set two.

• Missouri State has won at least 20 matches in 12 consecutive seasons, a streak that is currently longer than all but six others nationally.

Six is the Magic Number

The number six has been a milestone number the last 12 years in terms of winning streaks, as the Bears have strung together at least six consecutive wins a total of 16 times since the beginning of the 1999 season.

Homecoming

Missouri State has been dominant at home since 2000, compiling a record of 136-25 for an .845 winning percentage at Hammons Student Center. The Bears went 12-4 in 2010 and have completed 11 consecutive seasons with four or fewer home losses.

Preseason Poll

Following a 2010 season when the Missouri State volleyball team finished 21-10 and 12-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Bears have been picked to finish fourth in the 2011 MVC race by the league's coaches. UNI is the unanimous choice to repeat as league champions.

Preseason All-Conference

Seniors Kelley Michnowicz and Calli Norman occupy two of the seven spots on this year's preseason all-MVC team. Michnowicz has been an all-conference choice the last two seasons, while Norman is bidding to become the third player in MVC history to make the first team four times.

Players of the Week

Ashley Mason won the league's first Defensive Player of the Week award of the season Aug. 29 after averaging 4.82 digs at the Oklahoma Nike Invitational. She had 18 against Oral Roberts, 10 versus SMU and 25 against 16th-ranked Oklahoma.

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