SMC's volleyball team will host a send-off dinner on July 30 for USA's women's volleyball squad before it heads to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

"We are proud and excited to host the USA women's volleyball team just two days before they get on the plane to Beijing," said SMC Athletic Director Mark Orr. "They are a definite medal contender, and it's a privilege to have the opportunity to help put some wind in their sails before they go."

A silent auction of memorabilia to support Team USA will begin at 6:30 p.m. on the Soda Center's patio, followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. in the Soda Center. Dinner will cost $100 per person, and a table of eight can be sponsored for $1,000. Table sponsorships include having a Team USA member at the table, a Team USA signed volleyball and photo opportunities. Proceeds from the dinner will support SMC volleyball.

SMC women's volleyball head coach Robert Browning is also going to the 2008 Olympics, as team leader for the USA men's volleyball squad. This will be Browning's third straight trip to the Olympics; he was a men's volleyball coach in Athens in 2004 and Sydney, Australia, in 2000.

"We are extremely fortunate to have someone with Rob's experience and knowledge as our team leader in Beijing," said USA men's volleyball head coach Hugh McCutcheon. "There is no doubt that he will add significant value to our Olympic campaign."

Browning will be the liaison between the team and the United States Olympic Committee, as well as the Beijing Organizing Committee. He will plan and organize the logistical aspects of the trip, including everything that takes place in the village, venues and training sites.

"Going to the Olympics is an indescribable experience," Browning said. "I am very familiar with the coaching staff and players and I understand the level of commitment and sacrifice they have made to get to this point. My goal is to do whatever is necessary to clear the path for them so they can focus on the task at hand and come home with a medal."

The men's team, which departs for Beijing on August 2, ranks third in the world and is a serious medal contender.

Browning will blog on Saint Mary's athletic website, www.SMCGaels.com, during the Olympics.

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