Women's Volleyball Opens Season with 2000 Diggin' It Tourney

Aug. 30, 2000

The women's volleyball team opens its new season by hosting Diggin' It 2000 on Friday and Saturday, September 1-2, in Cox Arena. The event features the Aztecs along with three teams that finished the 1999 season ranked among the top 25 in the nation: UC Santa Barbara (6). Arizona (14), and San Diego (24).

The complete Diggin' It 2000 schedule is as follows: Friday, September 1 UC Santa Barbara vs. Arizona 4:00 p.m. San Diego vs. San Diego State 7:00 p.m. Saturday, September 2 UC Santa Barbara vs. San Diego 10:00 a.m. San Diego State vs. Arizona 1:00 p.m. UC Santa Barbara vs. San Diego State 5:00 p.m. San Diego vs. Arizona 7:30 p.m.

Prices for daily passes to this two-day event are $7.00 for adults and $4.00 for seniors, high school students and youths. Tournament passes are available at a cost of $13 for adults and $7.00 for seniors, high school students and youths.

Following Diggin 'It 2000, the Aztecs will continue their season-opening homestand when they host Pepperdine on Tuesday, September 5, at 6:00 p.m. in Peterson Gym. The Aztecs will then be on the road for their next seven matches, which includes tournaments at Portland State and Cornell, before returning home to host UC Riverside on September 19th.

The Aztecs have a winning record against each of the other three teams in the Diggin' It 2000 tournament. SDSU is 19-6 against Arizona, but the Wildcats have won the last five meetings including matches in each of the past four seasons. The team's record against UCSB stands at 21-17 with the teams having met only once since 1991 (a Gaucho win in Santa Barbara in 1996). The Aztecs lead the series with USD, 23-10, with the teams meeting both home and away annually since 1993. The Toreros have won the most recent six meetings over the past three seasons with the Aztecs having won five in a row prior to that. The Aztecs also lead the series with Pepperdine by a 21-17 margin, but the Waves have won the most recent three meetings (1995, 1997, 1998) between the teams.

ARIZONA - The Wildcats are ranked 10th in the preseason poll by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). They compiled a record of 21-11 last season and advanced to the NCAA Regional semifinal. Arizona returns five starters form a year ago, led by All-Pac-10 honorees Marisa DaLee at middle blocker and Dana Burkholder at setter. UC SANTA BARBARA - The Gauchos have been ranked 14th in the preseason by the AVCA after compiling a 29-6 mark in 1999. UCSB advanced to the NCAA Regional final last season where they fell to Stanford, the team that had defeated Arizona in the regional semis. Three starters return from that team led by setter Brooke Rundle and outside hitter Brook Niles. SAN DIEGO - Although not ranked among the top 25, the University of San Diego did receive votes in the AVCA poll, ranking 31st. The Toreros had a 23-6 mark in 1999 and also competed in the NCAA Tournament. Top returning players include outside hitter Adrian Frediani and middle blocker Debra Robertson. PEPPERDINE - The Waves have been ranked eighth in the nation in the AVCA's preseason poll. They went 26-4 last season including a 14-0 run to win the West Coast Conference title as they advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Five starters are back at Pepperdine led by all-conference players Melissa Plass (setter) and Melissa Snow (outside hitter).

San Diego State returns four of six starters from its 1999 team that compiled a mark of 11-19 (4-10 Mountain West Conference - tied sixth). Leading the way are a pair of fourth-year seniors in outside hitter Amy Hallquist and middle blocker Erin Grady. Hallquist was third on the team in kills last season and second in total attacks and kill per game average. Grady led the Aztecs in blocks as a junior and her kill percentage was second-best on the squad.

Other returning starters include setter Melissa Dickson and outside hitter Nicole Akporiaye. Dickson has already moved into the number eight spot on the career assist list after just two seasons while Akporiaye had an impressive freshman campaign in 1999, finishing second among the Aztecs in kills per game and third in hitting percentage.

Other returnees expected to see significant playing time include defensive specialist Jessica Allen along with outside hitters Katie Magnuson and Nadia Privara.

The top newcomers this season include setter Melissa Wright, outside hitter Zlatina Anguelova, and middle blocker Aspen McPartland. Wright is a sophomore transfer from Washington State who was a high school All-American in her hometown of Muncie , Ind. As a freshman at WSU in 1999, she was named honorable mention all-Pac-10 while compiling over 1200 assists for the cougars. Anguelova is a freshman member of the Bulgarian squad at the European Championships. McPartland is a freshman standout from nearby Grossmont High School whose club team (Club Pacific) was ranked fourth in the region.

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