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September 9, 2009

More Ranked Teams Ahead for Lutes

THIS WEEK: PLU will face four nationally ranked teams at the Washington University/ASICS Invitational in St. Louis, Mo. The Lutes will play two matches on Friday and two more on Saturday. 

LUTES RANKED 10TH: New rankings for the AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll are in for this week and the Lutes received a ranking of No. 10, which is the highest ranking ever received in the history of PLU volleyball.

BACK TO ASICS: The Pacific Lutheran volleyball team will travel to St. Louis, Mo., for the Washington University/ASICS Invitational, which will take place on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11-12. The Lutes will face four teams ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Preseason Top 25 Poll.  The Lutes come into the ASICS Invitational with a 4-1 record and have moved from a ranking of No. 13 last week to No. 10 in the AVCA poll this week. PLU ended the 2008 season with an appearance at the Division III regional tournament, an overall record of 20-7, and a conference title for the third consecutive year.

FRIDAY'S SCHEDULE: Tournament play will open for the Lutes against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  The Warhawks come into the ASICS Invitational ranked 17th in the AVCA poll and hold a 5-1 record this season. The Warhawks closed out their 2008 season at the regional semifinal of the NCAA Division III championship tournament. The Lutes take on the Warhawks at 1 p.m. Friday. Following the Lutes' matchup against the Warhawks, they will face the hosts of the invitational, Washington University.  The Bears are ranked No. 5 in the AVCA poll and have a 5-1 record. The Bears had a record of 32-7 last year and advanced to the NCAA Division III regional finals.  This season, Washington University has 10 returning players back to the program, including three starters and the libero. The Lutes take on the Bears at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.

SATURDAY MATCH UPS: On Saturday, the Lutes will take on two more of the top ranked teams in the AVCA poll in Concordia-Moorhead and Ohio Northern University.  The Concordia Cobbers received a ranking of 18th in the AVCA Poll and currently have a 3-1 record.  The Cobbers have been to the NCAA Tournament for six straight seasons and have been ranked in nation's top 25 for more than 50 consecutive weeks. The Lutes take on the Cobbers at 8 a.m. on Saturday. The Lutes will close the ASICS Invitational facing off against Ohio Northern University. The Polar Bears come in ranked 4th in the nation and ended the 2008 volleyball season with an appearance at the NCAA Division III semifinals. Ohio Northern holds a record of 4-0 so far into the season, with wins against No. 8-ranked Southwestern (Tex.) and No. 16-ranked Calvin (Mich.) in three straight sets. The Lutes take on the Polar Bears at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

LUTES GO 3-1 AT PUGET SOUND PREMIER: Last weekend, the Lutes competed in the Puget Sound Premier, taking on three nationally ranked teams including St. Benedict (No. 10), the University of Puget Sound (No. 19), and Simpson (No. 25).  The Lutes opened their tournament play with a 25-22, 25-22, 25-22 win over St. Benedict with Beth Hanna, the Lutes' All-America junior outside hitter, finishing with a match-high 13 kills in addition to 10 digs. Kelsie Moore added 10 kills for the Lutes, while Sarah Beaver contributed 33 assists and Brenna Archibald 12 digs.  The Lutes came back a short time later to easily dispose of the University of Puget Sound Loggers, 25-10, 25-19, 25-19. Hanna recorded 13 kills for the second consecutive match, and she also led all players with 15 digs. Moore added nine kills and 13 digs, Beaver had 33 assists and two aces, and Archibald contributed 14 digs and four aces. In a match played Saturday morning, the Lutes rolled past the No. 25-ranked Simpson Storm, 25-14, 25-18, 25-22, as Hanna knocked down 15 kills. A total of eight different players recorded kills for the Lutes, who got 32 assists from Sarah Beaver and 11 digs from Brenna Archibald. The Lutes had a second opportunity to play against their rivals, the Loggers of UPS, for the tournament championship on Saturday afternoon. PLU rallied to win the opening set, 26-24, and took the second set with a 25-20 victory. Puget Sound rallied back, nipping the Lutes 25-23 in the third set and then taking a 25-19 win in the fourth set to force a deciding fifth set. The Loggers raced out to the early lead to take a 15-9 win and with it the tournament trophy. Beth Hanna had a big match for the Lutes with a match-high 24 kills and she also tied Brenna Archibald with 22 digs. Kelcy Joynt added 10 kills and Sarah Beaver had 46 assists for PLU, but the offensive balance that had been so decisive in their three tournament wins eluded the Lutes in this contest. Pacific Lutheran's Hanna, Beaver and Joynt were named to the all-tournament team.

OPENING WIN: The Lutes opened their 2009 season last Wednesday with a 25-19, 25-15, 19-25, 25-19 victory at Saint Martin's. Sophomore outside hitter Kelsie Moore finished with 16 kills and a .256 attack percentage to lead the Lutes, who hit .186 for the match. Beth Hanna added nine kills and 16 digs, Kelcy Joynt had seven kills in two games, and Sarah Beaver finished with five kills and 34 assists to lead the Lutes. A total of 14 different players saw action for PLU, which finished with four solo blocks and eight block assists. Erin Bremond collected two solo blocks and two block assists. Brenna Archibald and Lauren Poole both finished the match with 14 digs for PLU.

COACH KEVIN AOKI SAYS: "I thought for the first week of competition we played very well. We are ahead of where we were last year but need to continue to improve each week. The main thing is we need to stay healthy. We're being very cautious with Kelcy Joynt coming off two ACL surgeries in two years, and Kelsie Moore had a sore knee so she didn't really play on Saturday." 

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