Volleyball Opens 2009 Season At The Invitational At Seattle, Wash.

This Week:
Fri. Aug. 28 The Invitational at Seattle, Wash.
at #4 Washington 7:00 p.m. PDT

Sat. Aug. 28 The Invitational at Seattle, Wash. (matches played at Seattle U.)
vs. San Diego State 1:00 p.m. PDT
vs. Seattle 7:00 p.m. PDT

The 2009 San Jose State volleyball team opens the season in Seattle this weekend with three matches at The Invitational hosted by the University of Washington and Seattle University. The Spartans play at #4 Washington Friday night and at Seattle Saturday for matches against San Diego State and Seattle.

LIVE STATS: All three matches this weekend will have live stats, and links are available on the Spartan web site at www.sjsusjpartans.com and go to “Live.” A video feed is also available for the Washington match through their web site at gohuskies.com.

ABOUT #4 WASHINGTON: The Huskies enter the 2009 season as the favorite to win the Pacific-10 title after finishing last year with a 27-5 overall record and 15-3 Pac-10 mark. The team advanced to the NCAA Regional Final, feature three returning All-Americans and return all but one starter from last year’s team. Head coach Jim McLaughlin is in his ninth year at the helm of the school.

San Jose State leads the overall series, 6-1, but the two teams have not faced each other since the 1985 season.

The Aztecs finished the 2008 season with a 9-17 overall record and a 6-10 Mountain West record. Head coach Deitre Collins-Parker is in her first season at the helm of the school. The team returns four starters and nine letterwinners.

San Diego State leads the overall series, 14-7, but San Jose State won the last two meetings in 1998 when the Aztecs were members of the Western Athletic Conference.

ABOUT SEATTLE: The Redhawks enter their second season reclassifying to Division I. The 2008 team finished 10-23, and head coach Shannon Ellis returns for her seventh season at the helm of the program. Four starters and the libero and 10 letterwinners return from last year’s team.

This is the first meeting between the two schools.

SAN JOSE STATE HEAD COACH: Oscar Crespo begins his third season as head coach at his alma mater. A 1990 graduate, Crespo was named head coach in March of 2007 as the program’s sixth head coach. He has a 27-33 coaching record in two seasons.

RETURNING ALL-WAC HONOREES: Brianna Amian is the Spartans returning All-WAC honoree after being named to the second team last season.
Amian was second on the team in kills with 274, 2.45 per set, and had 176 digs and 57 blocks.

The 2009 team returns six players who saw action last season, led by Brianna Amian who was a second team All-WAC selection at outside hitter. Kristal Tsukano returns at libero after recording 380 digs last year. Kylie Miraldi returns at middle blocker after finishing with 53 digs. Sarah McAtee returns at outside hitter after playing in 25 sets her freshman season. Thao Pham returns for her senior year after recording a career-best 21 digs at Louisiana Tech. Courtney Zellmer rounds out the returners after spending much of the 2008 season as a key defensive specialist. She served nine consecutive points in a match at Idaho. Kaci Miller and Devan Wong each return this season.

The Spartans added eight newcomers this year. Former high school teammates Alex Akana and Caitlin Andrade join the team after leading their high school, Kamehameha, to four state titles. Akana is projected to see time in the middle and outside, while Andrade is in the mix at setter. Asia CasinoRebecca Hagemann played the past two seasons at Foothill College. Taylor JaphetKrista Miller started the past four years at California High School in San Ramon, while Katie Turner was a four-year starter at Tracy High School. Keri Waller joins the team after playing two seasons at Sacramento City College where she was the 2008-09 Female Scholar Athlete of the Year.

SPARTAN CAREER RANKINGS: Kristal Tsukano is sixth in digs with 1,037 digs and needs just three digs to pass Barbara Higgins who is fifth with 1,039 digs. Tsukano is the sixth Spartan to record 1,000 digs in her career.

For the second consecutive season, San Jose State head coach Oscar Crespo signed a former Nevada Union High School graduate. Taylor Japhet joins the team this season after former high school teammates Sarah McAtee and Kylie Miraldi joined the Spartans last year.

KAMEHAMEHA PLAYERS: The Spartans have also had success recruiting players from Kamehameha High School on the island on Oahu. Alex AkanaCaitlin Andrade join fellow Kamehameha graduate Kristal Tsukano at San Jose State.

Four returning Spartan players received Academic All-WAC honors last year. Kylie Miraldi, Thao Pham, Kristal Tsukano and Courtney Zellmer all had a 3.00 or better grade point average.

TSUKANO RECEIVES ACADEMIC HONOR: Kristal Tsukano was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII Third Team, as selected by the district's College Sports Information Directors. transferred from UC Davis after playing in 18 matches at setter. becomes the third player from Nevada Union High School to come to San Jose State, joining Miraldi and McAtee. Japhet was a three-time all-conference honoree. and

Tsukano carries a 3.69 overall grade point average and is a biological science major. She is a three-time Academic All-WAC selection and the Spartans starting libero.

AUDIO BROADCASTS: Various Spartan home matches will be broadcast this season. KSJS, 90.5 FM, the San Jose State student radio station, is planning to broadcast four home matches - Sept. 24, Oct. 13, Oct. 15 and Nov. 2.

Other home matches will be broadcast on the Spartan web site at www.sjsuspartans.com. A schedule will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

2009 WAC TOURNAMENT: The 2009 WAC Volleyball Tournament will move to a neutral site this year and include the top-six teams in the conference standings. The tournament will be played at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nov. 23-25.

All-session tickets are $45 and can be purchased over the phone (888-234-2334) or online (www.orleansarena.com/event-calendar/wac-volleyball-tournament).

The WAC Tournament was played at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas from 1996-98 when UNLV was a member of the WAC.

The WAC Volleyball Tournament is a single-elimination event with the top two seeds receiving first-round byes and the champion earning the conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Monday, Nov. 23 (Quarterfinals)

No. 3 Seed vs. No. 6 Seed 5 p.m.
No. 4 Seed vs. No. 5 Seed 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov 24 (Semifinals)
Winner Match 1 vs. No. 2 seed 5 p.m.
Winner Match 2 vs. No. 1 Seed 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 25 (Championship)
Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

*times local and subject to change

UP NEXT: The Spartans travel up Interstate 5 to participate in the 31st Annual Bank of Stockton Classic hosted by the University of the Pacific. San Jose State faces the Tigers Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Spanos Center after #5 Stanford and #8 Florida face-off at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the consolation match is set for 5 p.m., followed by the championship match at 7 p.m.