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UI Gets Another Shot To Break Rank

REPLAY: Sports, November 8, 1996: Washington State’s volleyball game against Southern California begins at 6 p.m. Saturday. The starting time was incorrect in Thursday’s report.

The University of Idaho volleyball team has had three chances against ranked teams this year. The result has been a disappointing 0-3 against Washington State, Pacific and UC Santa Barbara.

Tonight at 7:30 at Memorial Gym, Idaho faces No. 4 Long Beach State. The 49ers had been No. 3, but the USA Today/AVCA poll was shuffled this week when former No. 4 Stanford beat previously unbeaten No. 1 Hawaii. The 49ers are the only undefeated team in Division I-A at 25-0 and 12-0 in the Big West Conference Western Division.

“One of these times we have to win one of these matches,” said Idaho coach Tom Hilbert, whose 21-4, 10-2 team is ranked ninth in its district.

The task has been made even harder for the Vandals. At Tuesday’s practice, senior Louisa Kawulok, the team’s leading blocker, tore her left anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the rest of the season.

The Vandals have qualified for the NCAA Tournament the past four years, representing its former Big Sky Conference. If they are to return to the postseason party, they will have to win the Big West or hope for an at-large bid. They could face Long Beach State again at the conference tournament, Nov. 23-25 at UCSB.

While UI has lost Kawulok, LBSU setter is without starting setter Misty May. May, who is averaging 11.2 sets per game and is fifth in the conference in hitting percentage (.330), is out with an injury.

“But the thing that makes them so tough is they have such a balanced attack,” Hilbert said.

That was evident last weekend, when May’s replacement, defensive specialist Shawnee Hayes, was inserted into the lineup and responded with 82 assists and 22 digs against Cal Poly SLO and No. 18 UCSB. She was named the conference player of the week.

Kawulok had the second-highest hitting average on the team (.330), behind Jessica Moore (.408). Moore, a sophomore middle blocker, is ranked second in the Big West behind one of LBSU’s most lethal players, Nique Crump (.460.)

Cougars return to Bohler Gym

Washington State (19-4, 10-3 Pac-10), which kept its No. 11 ranking with wins over Oregon and Oregon State, plays host to No. 23 UCLA on Friday and No. 12 University of Southern California on Saturday, both at 7 p.m.

The Bruins, struggling to find a lineup this season because of several injuries, are fifth in the conference standings (14-9, 6-6) but have never finished lower than second in the conference’s 10-year history. Earlier this season in Los Angeles, the Cougars defeated the Bruins in three games for only their second win over UCLA in 21 attempts.

USC (15-5, 9-3) defeated the Cougars in three games in Los Angeles in October. It leads the series 14-7. The Trojans have strong hitting in Jasmina Marinkovic (4.27 kills per game), Jennifer Kessy (4.15) and Vesna Dragicevic (4.13).

WSU middle blocker Sarah Silvernail leads the league in kills per game at 5.69 and is second in hitting percentage at .400.

Around the region

Eastern Washington, lodged in sixth place in the Big Sky Conference at 5-7 (12-11 overall), has a chance to move up when it plays host to third-place Montana State (16-8, 7-6) tonight and seventh-place Montana (8-13, 5-8) Saturday. They are the Eagles’ final home matches of the season, both at 7 p.m. EWU lost to both Montana schools earlier this season. … Gonzaga University (10-17, 3-6) travels to Saint Mary’s (5-17, 1-8) Friday and Santa Clara (13-3, 4-2) Saturday. Earlier this year, GU beat St. Mary’s in five games and lost to Santa Clara in four. … Whitworth College (7-17, 3-9), out of the postseason picture, plays host to the University of Puget Sound (15-9, 8-3) Saturday at 11 a.m., and Pacific Lutheran University (14-12, 9-4) Saturday at 7 p.m.

, DataTimes