This Week In The Big West
UH’s Nikki Taylor Earns National Recognition:
After three week’s of earning Big West Player of the Week honors, Hawai’i’s Nikki Taylor collected her first Sports Imports/AVCA Player of the Week of the season. Last week the junior opposite was named Outstanding Player of the Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge after averaging 4.75 kills, 2.25 digs, 1.33 blocks and 0.75 service aces per set to help the Rainbow Wahine take down San Diego State, No. 2 Florida and Eastern Washington for the tournament title. She also hit .252 with a tournament-high 57 kills to go along with 27 digs, 16 blocks and nine service aces.
Big West On FOX Prime Ticket:
FOX Sports Prime Ticket and the Big West Conference recently unveiled the fall broadcast schedule on Prime Ticket which features a showdown of CSUN and Long Beach State squaring off in the Walter Pyramid. The Saturday, October 17 match begins at 7:00 p.m. The 49ers seek to defend their 2014 championship, accomplished with a unblemished 16-0 record and the 13th overall title in program history. The Matadors regularly have finished among the upper echelon in the Big West standings, including a share of the championship two seasons ago.
• The Big West Conference announced that 11 women’s volleyball matches will be distributed on ESPN3 this fall, beginning on September 25.
Fri., September 25 - UC Davis at Long Beach State
Sat., September 26 - UC Irvine at Long Beach State
Fri., October 2 - Hawai’i at Cal State Fullerton
Sat., October 3 - Hawai‘i at UC Riverside
Fri., October 23 - Cal Poly at CSUN
Sat., October 24 - UC Santa Barbara at CSUN
Fri., November 6 - Hawai‘i at Long Beach State
Fri., November 13 - UC Santa Barbara at Cal St. Fullerton
Sat., November 14 - Cal Poly at Cal State Fullerton
Tues., November 17 - Hawai’i at UC Irvine
Sat., November 21 - UC Davis at UC Irvine
By The Numbers...
6 - Big West teams playing a home contest this week - Cal Poly, Long Beach State, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and Hawai’i.
13 - National ranking UC Davis and Hawai’i are knotted in with 102 team blocks.
25 - Day in September the race for the 2015 Big West Conference title begins.
521 - Kills UC Davis has recorded to pace the league.
796 - Wins head coach Brian Gimmillaro has accumulated during his 31 years at Long Beach State. He needs just four more wins to capture his 800th career Division I win to become just the sixth active coach to reach that total all within Division I, and fourth to record each win at the same institution.
Best Outing In Nearly A Decade:
Cal Poly had another successful tournament performance, tallying a 2-1 mark at the North Harbour Marriott Invitational Tournament in Portland, Ore., to improve to 7-2 overall. This marks the best nine-match opening for a Mustang squad since the 2005 season.
Leading The Way:
After three weeks of play, Cal Poly finds itself atop the Big West standings in both opponent hitting percentage and service aces. The Mustangs have limited their opponents to a .166 hitting percentage, while hitting .250, and are averaging 1.46 service aces per set. A large part of the success comes from setter Taylor Nelson, who owns a league-high 10.64 assist average.
Get Out The Brooms:
Cal Poly recorded its third sweep of the season last week, downing St. Francis 3-0. While the Mustangs have swept their opposition three times this year, they have yet to suffer the same defeat. Their two loses were by score of 3-1 and 3-2.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
In Search Of A ‘W’:
Under the helm of first-year head coach Ashley Preston, the Cal State Fullerton Titans are still searching for their first victory of the season after going 0-9 in the first three weeks of play. The Titans look to turn things around in their final nonconference tournament of the season - The San Francisco Challenge. Cal State Fullerton is scheduled to face North Dakota State, San Francisco and Yale.
Can You Dig It?:
Junior Paige Reed is scooping 3.69 digs per set to pace the Titans and rank sixth in the Big West Conference.
Diaper Dandies On The Bench:
The Cal State Fullerton coaching staff is one of the youngest in the nation as the three full-time coaches are a combined 89 years old. In addition, volunteer assistant Naseri Tumanuvao preps for his first season at Cal State Fullerton at 28 years of age.
The Matadors close out their 12-match, season-opening road trip this week with a trip to Albuquerque, N.M., for the Lobo Invitational. At the two-day tournament (9/18-19) CSUN looks to snap a five-match skid when it tackles host New Mexico, LSU and Long Island.
Stinson Eyes Career Mark:
Senior Cieana Stinson is inching closer to the 1,000-kill milestone. Sitting at 945 career kills, Stinson needs 55 additional kills to become the 12th player in Matador history to reach the career milestone. Both Casey Hinger and Natalie Allen reached 1,000 kills in 2014 with Mahina Haina accomplishing the feat in 2013. Stinson is currently averaging 3.41 kills per set to sit sixth in the Big West.
Approaching Home Opener :
September 25 marks the first home match of the season for the Matadors, as well as their first Big West Conference showdown of 2015. The Matadome is set to showcase the UC Irvine-CSUN matchup at 7:00 p.m. to kickoff league play for the Matadors.
LONG BEACH STATE
LBSU Battles Pair Of Top 25 Teams:
Long Beach State closes out tournament play with the toughest competition of the season so far for the 49ers as they join forces with Big West foe UC Irvine to host the LBSU/UCI Mizuno Invitational. The two-day event features No. 21 San Diego and Pac-12 opponents No. 14 UCLA and Oregon State. The 49ers are 1-0 against the Top 25 this season, downing then-ranked No. 25 Duke, 3-2, in their season-opening tournament.
Sophomore Ashley Murray is the lone athlete in the Big West hitting over .400 with a .404 clip. Teammate Nele Barber owns the league’s third-best kill average, notching 3.95 kills per set.
Gimmillaro Approaches New Milestone:
Head Coach Brian Gimmillaro is just four wins away from claiming his 800th career Division I win. Gimmillaro, currently in his 31st season, would become just the sixth active coach to reach that total all within Division I, and fourth to record each win at the same institution.
This Week’s Action:
The Aggies interrupt a 15-game road trip with a midweek showdown against Sacramento State, marking the first home contest of the year for UC Davis. After the single home contest, the Aggies are back on the road for the Fresno State Invitational where they are scheduled to face Southern Utah, Portland and Fresno State.
Career Night For Wegener:
In UC Davis’ 3-2 victory at Nebraska-Omaha, junior outside hitter Allie Wegener tallied a career-high 28 kills. Wegener’s previous single-match high had been 20, against Fresno State on August 30 last season. Her 28 is the most by an Aggie since Devon Damelio reached that total against Cal State Fullerton back on Nov. 2, 2013.
Squyres Powers Offense:
Senior outside hitter Kaylin Squyres leads the Big West in total kills (173) while holding steady at No. 2 in kills per set (4.44).
UC Irvine pairs up with Big West rival Long Beach State to host the LBSU/UCI Mizuno Invitational where the Anteaters are set to battle No. 14 UCLA and Oregon State Friday and No. 21 San Diego on Saturday. The Anteaters are 0-1 again ranked opponents this season, falling to No. 3 Texas, 3-0, opening weekend.
A week after notching a career-best kill performance (15), senior Ella Rosenfeld set a career-high in blocks with 10 (2 solo, 8 block assists) in UC Irvine’s win over UCF.
Tsujimoto Scoops A Career Best:
In the final match of the Diet Coke Classic, sophomore libero Luna Tsujimoto recorded a career-high 24 digs. She currently ranks seventh in the league with a 3.60 dig average.
Hain At The Helm:
Ashlie Hain, starting setter on UC Irvine’s 2003 and 2004 NCAA Tournament teams, returned UCI as head coach this season after coaching at American River College. There, she took over a program that had won just three matches and led the Beavers to consecutive Big 8 Conference titles in 2013 and 2014.
UC Riverside Continues to Collect ‘W’s:
Despite only recording a 1-2 mark at last week’s Fresno State Invitational for an overall mark of 4-6, the Highlanders have recorded the most victories in a season since 2012 when UC Riverside finished the season 8-24. The previous two seasons UCR only tallied two victories.
UC Riverside closes out its season-opening, 13-match road trip to Arizona for the Grand Canyon Invitational where the Highlanders are slated to battle Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona and Boise State. This is the final tune-up for the Highlanders before they begin Big West play at home against Cal State Fullerton September 25.
Look Out Below:
Junior Fabiana Rosas is averaging a team-best 3.46 kills per set to sit fifth in the Big West Conference.
Out of 29 contests in 2015, only eight will be played on the Highlanders’ home court. All eight contests are Big West Conference matchups, with the first coming on Friday, September 25 against Cal State Fullerton.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Gauchos’ Topsy-Turvy Start:
After a strong 4-1 start to the season, UC Santa Barbara has struggled down the stretch. The Gauchos are now 4-5 after dropping the last four contests, which included two matches against nationally-ranked opponents. They wrap up the nonconference portion of their schedule this week hosting Loyola Marymount and San Diego State as part of the Cal Poly/UCSB Tournament. UC Santa Barbara is 0-3 this season when playing on its home court - The Thunderdome.
Leading The Charge:
Junior Elizabeth Sheffield continues to pace the Gauchos with a .341 hitting percentage, ranking her fourth in the Big West Conference. Senior Ali Barbeau ranks eighth in the league with a team-best 3.18 kills per set average.
A Look Ahead:
Next week UC Santa Barbara opens Big West play at nationally-ranked Hawai’i on Friday, Sept. 25. The Gauchos are 0-2 against the top 25 this season.
Big Win, Career Performance
: En route to capturing the Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge title last week, the Rainbow Wahine posted a come-from-behind, 3-2, victory over the second-ranked Gators behind junior opposite Nikki Taylor’s career-high, 27-kill performance. It marked UH’s first win over a ranked opponent since the ‘Bows defeated No. 23 Creighton in five sets on Sept. 20, 2013.
A View From The Top:
Averaging 6.12 points per set, Nikki Taylor paces the Big West and ranks second in the nation. The junior opposite also sits fifth in the country a 4.91 kills per set average.
Career Best Outing For Manu-Olevao:
Fueled by Olivia Magill’s 1.58 blocks per set, which is good enough for ninth in the country, the Rainbow Wahine rank sixth in the nation with a team mark of 3.09. Blocks is just one of four categories Hawai’i paces the Big West Conference in, the other being hitting percentage (.258), kills (14.33) and assists (13.09).