Pioneers open season against tough competition on the road
DENVER – The DU volleyball team will open the 2009 season this coming weekend at the Shamrock Invitational, hosted by Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. The Pioneers' first opponent at the Shamrock Invitational will be host Notre Dame, a team that finished with an overall record of 17-14 and made it all the way to the Big East Finals before losing to Louisville 3-1.
Live Stats for all the matches of the Shamrock Invitational will be available for fans and the Pioneers match against Notre Dame will be available via Web radio atwww.DenverPioneers.com.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME:
Last season, Notre Dame finished with an overall record of 17-14 and made it all the way to the Big East Finals before losing to Louisville 3-1. The Irish return six seniors - including all-BIG EAST performers Christina Kaelin and Serinity Phillips - to go along with fellow all-league choice Kellie Sciacca. Joining the 12 letterwinners returning on this year’s team are three nationally-recognized freshmen. In her 18th season as head coach, Debbie Brown will look to add to her career record total of 541-246.
In his 12th season at LSU, Head Coach Fran Flory has amassed an overall record of 198-132 and is coming off an 18-10 season and an NCAA Tournament appearance. Picked to win the SEC West this season, the Tigers return five starters from last year’s squad, including senior middle blockers Brittnee Cooper and Lauren DeGiralamo. Also returning for LSU is libero Lauren Waclawczyk. This will be the first meeting between the Pioneers and the Tigers.
In his ninth season as head coach at Stanford, John Dunning is boasting a 239-37 career record with the Cardinals. Last season, he led the team to a 31-4 overall record, 17-1 in conference action and a second-place finish. The Cardinals reached the NCAA Finals, losing to Penn State 3-0, making it their 18th Final Four appearance. Stanford returns three starters and its libero from last season, and welcomes four newcomers to the fold. Top returner for the Cardinals is junior Alix Klineman, who is a two-time AVCA All-American and two-time Volleyball Magazine First Team All-American.
The DU volleyball team will open the 2009 season this coming weekend at the Shamrock Invitational, hosted by Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. The Pioneers' first opponent at the Shamrock Invitational will be host Notre Dame, a team that finished with an overall record of 17-14 and made it all the way to the Big East Finals before losing to Louisville 3-1. The Irish return six seniors - including all-BIG EAST performers Christina Kaelin and Serinity Phillips - to go along with fellow all-league choice Kellie Sciacca. Next up for Denver is LSU, a team that finished 18-10 a season ago. The Tigers return four starters and eight letter winners, while welcoming four newcomers to the team. The final match for the Pioneers this weekend will be against Stanford, a squad that was picked fifth in the AVCA Preseason Poll. In 2008, Stanford posted a 31-4 record and won an unprecedented 12th Pac-10 title. This is the first time the Pioneers will face either of these opponents.
The Pioneers return home to host back-to-back-to-back tournaments in Hamilton Gymnasium. Action will begin with the DU Invitational on Sept. 4-5, as the Pioneers will host Air Foce, Eastern Illinois, Southern Utah and West Virginia over the course of two days. Next up will be the CU-DU Tournament, a co-hosted tournament with the University of Colorado. The Pioneers, Cal Poly, San Diego and Colorado will split time between Boulder and Denver for the two-day tournament. The final tournament hosted by the Pioneers is the Pioneer Classic that will see top competition from Minnesota, Oregon and Georgia Tech.
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PIONEERS ON YOUR COMPUTER:
Once again, select DU Pioneer volleyball home matches will be broadcast live on Pioneer Vision, an online Webcast feature at www.DenverPioneers.com. Pioneer broadcaster Mitch Hyder will provide the color commentary for home matches in Hamilton Gymnasium. For the complete schedule visit www.DenverPioneers.com.
The 2009 Pioneer squad returns four starters from last season’s SBC West Division Championship team, including All-SBC First Team selection Emmy Davidsmeyer and Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Kacie Wikierak. Davidsmeyer finished second on the team last season with 327 kills, and led the team with a .340 hitting percentage. Wikierak led the team with 445 digs for a 3.94 digs per set average. Also returning is senior setter Clare Maxwell who finished last season with 1,219 assists and became just the second player in Pioneer history to record over 3,000 assists.
Last season, senior Clare Maxwell became just the second setter in Pioneer history to break 3,000 assists during a career as she finished the season with 3,399 assists. Maxwell is just 135 assists away from tying the all-time career assists mark in the DU record books, which is currently held by Rachel Runka. Runka was a member of the Pioneer squad from 1992-94).
CAN YOU DIG IT?
Junior libero Kacie Wikierak was once again tabbed as the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, an honor that she received at the start of the 2008 season after earning the regular season Defensive Player of the Year honor her freshman season. Last season, she was honored as the Defensive Player of the Week twice for her efforts. In just two seasons, Wikierak has tallied 1,081 digs and is just 1,045 digs away from securing the top spot in the record books for career digs.
Defending West Division Champions, the University of Denver volleyball team, received 80 points from Sun Belt Conference institutions in the preseason poll to finish behind New Orleans in the West Division standings. The Privateers grabbed the top spot with 87 points. The Pioneers are followed by UALR (57 points), Arkansas State (51 points), Louisiana (38 points), North Texas (36 points) and ULM (15 points).
The Pioneers are coming of a highly successful season, finishing with an overall record of 25-7 for the best record in program history through 32 matches. Its 16-1 record in Hamilton Gymnasium was the best mark at home since the program turned Division I. Earlier this week, the defending West Division Champions were selected to finish second in the West behind New Orleans and junior Kacie Wikierak (Crystal lake, Ill.) was selected for the second-straight season as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
COMPETING AGAINST THE TOP TEAMS:
Arguably one of their toughest schedules, the Pioneers will face eight teams that competed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, including one NCAA Tournament finalist and three SBC teams. (FIU, Oregon, Minnesota, San Diego, LSU, Stanford, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky) The Pioneers start off the season on the road in South Bend, Ind., as they take part in the Shamrock Invitational hosted by Notre Dame. Along with facing the Fighting Irish, Denver will also meet LSU and Stanford, two teams that competed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Stanford finished last season ranked No. 2 in the final Bison/AVCA DI Coaches Top-25 Poll with a 31-4 overall record. Denver will also face four teams that finished in last season’s top-25 and two that were receiving votes at the conclusion of their seasons. The Pioneers’ home schedule includes 11 non-conference and eight conference matches, while the away schedule lists three non-conference and 10 conference matches.
HEAD COACH BETH KUWATA:
Beth Kuwata is begins her 14th season as the head coach of the DU Pioneer volleyball program, bringing with her a record of 211-186. During her time with the Pioneers, Kuwata has led the program from Division II to Division I and from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference to the Sun Belt Conference. She has secured four SBC West Division Championships, the first of which came during the 2000 season. Last season, Kuwata guided the Pioneers to their second-consecutive West Division title.
In her 15 years of coaching, Beth Kuwata has compiled a career record of 238-219 and is just 12 wins away from securing her 250th win.
The Denver Pioneer volleyball team is inviting children, ages 13 years and under, to the third annual "Kuwata's Krew" Club during the Pioneers' season. There will be three clinics held following Sunday matches, all of which are against teams from the Sun Belt Conference. Join members from the DU volleyball team and staff to acquire basic volleyball training, while in a fun and exciting atmosphere.
The first clinic will be held on Sunday, October 11 following the Pioneers' match against Florida Atlantic at 1 p.m. There will be a pizza party following the clinic for all participants. The second clinic will be held on Sunday, November 1, following DU's 1 p.m. match against Arkansas-Little Rock. The last clinic will be on Sunday, November 8 after the Louisiana-Monroe match that is slated for 1 p.m.
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