Race For The Title:
The Rainbow Wahine, who were idle last week, remain atop of the leaderboard with a perfect 8-0 league mark. Defending Big West champion Long Beach State recorded an impressive come-from-behind 3-2 win over Cal Poly to join the Mustangs in the second slot with a 7-2 mark. The Aggies of UC Davis find themselves in the fourth spot at 5-4 and are followed by CSUN (4-4). UC Irvine collected two wins last week to improve to 4-5 and move to sixth, while UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara are knotted in seventh with a 2-7 mark. Rounding out the nine-team field is Cal State Fullerton, who is still in search of its first win.
Big West In the Top 25:
Despite being idle last week, Hawai’i, undefeated in Big West play, jumped two spots in the most recent AVCA Top 25 poll to sit sixth with a 18-1 record. Long Beach State collected 22 points to remain in the ‘others receiving votes’ category.
800 And Counting...:
Head coach Brian Gimmillaro opened Big West play with a 2-0 mark to reach the 800-career win threshold during his 31 years at Long Beach State. Gimmillaro, who now holds 806 wins, became just the fourth active coach to reach 800 wins at one institution, and is only the 14th coach ever to record 800 wins at the Division I level.
We’re Number One:
The Rainbow Wahine lead the nation with an impressive 3.50 blocks per set average. Olivia Magill is the catalyst for the team, sporting the country’s second-best average of 1.69. Magill paces the Big West while teammates Emily Maglio, Kendra Loelsch and Nikki Taylor own the second, fifth and sixth spot in the league.
Stinson Eclipses 1,000-Kill Mark:
Senior Cieana Stinson reached the 1,000-kill threshold the final weekend of September 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 owns 1,090 career kills and currently ranks 10th in school history and is just 32 kills from grabbing the ninth slot.
Squyres Reaches Milestone:
Senior Kaylin Squyres lifted her career kill total to 1,078 last week to vault to the sixth spot in school history. Devon Damelio (1,058 in 2010-13) was the most recent Aggie to finish her career above that milestone. Squyres is averaging a league-best 4.43 kills per set to rank 16th in the nation.
Big West On ESPN3:
The Big West Conference announced that 11 women’s volleyball matches will be distributed on ESPN3 during the 2015. Contests remaining:
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
All Good Things Must Come To An End:
Cal Poly’s season-long, seven-match win streak came to an end Saturday to the same team they defeated to kick off its win streak - Long Beach State. The Mustangs downed then-ranked No. 24 Long Beach State, 3-1, back on Oct. 2 which sparked a seven-match win streak before falling to the 49ers, 3-2, on Oct. 24. The Mustangs find themselves knotted in second with LBSU with a 7-2 mark.
The Mustangs currently sit atop the Big West statistics in three different categories - assists (13.03), service aces (1.53) and digs (16.21). Individually, setter Taylor Nelson tops the charts with an 11.06 assists per set average.
A Clean Sweep:
Before falling to Long Beach, Cal Poly posted its ninth sweep of the season with a 3-0 victory at CSUN, marking the most sweep victories the program has recorded since 2008. The only Big West team to have produced more three-set victories this season is Hawai’i with 11.
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 with a 0-20 mark thus far. The last time the Titans opened the year with a winless stretch spanning 20 games was back in 1994 when they tallied an overall record of 1-28.
A Look Ahead:
Cal State Fullerton travels to No. 6 Hawai’i this week before returning home to Titan Gym to entertain Long Beach State and UC Riverside the following week.
Another Scoop Please:
Junior Paige Reed currently sports a 3.96 digs average to sit fourth in the Big West Conference. In conference-only contests she’s bettered her average to 4.40.
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.
Down To The Wire:
After falling to Cal Poly, 3-0, on Friday, CSUN rebounded the following night to down UC Santa Barbara in five sets but the victory didn’t come easy. The Matadors suffered a 25-8, first-set loss which was followed by a 25-19 defeat in set two. Down 2-0, the Matadors barely secured sets three and four with scores of 25-21 and 25-23 before claiming the decisive final set, 15-10, to improve to 4-4 in Big West play.
The Matadors embark on a three-match road trip this week that kicks off Thursday evening at UC Davis before visiting UC Irvine on Halloween. CSUN defeated both teams earlier this year.
Senior Cieana Stinson currently sits fifth in the Big West with a 3.58 kills per set average, while teammate Katie Sato occupies the seventh spot in digs with a 3.77 mark. Stinson also ranks second in solo blocks with 19.
LONG BEACH STATE
Long Beach State notched a pair of victories last week to improve its current win streak to three. The wins didn’t come easy as the 49ers had to battle back from a 0-2 deficit against Cal Poly to eventually down the Mustangs 3-2, revenging a 3-1 loss early this season.
All Tied Up:
With a pair of victories last week, combined with Cal Poly’s loss, the defending conference champions find themselves knotted in second place with the Mustangs with a 7-2 mark.
There’s a First For Everything:
In LBSU’s 3-2 victory over Cal Poly, Nele Barber established new career highs in both kills and digs, finishing with the first 20/20 match of her career. The junior blasted a match-high 24 kills and collected 20 digs.
Home Sweet Home:
Last week Long Beach State extended its home conference winning streak to 16 matches. Unfortunately, the 49ers hit the road this week to battle UC Irvine (10/29) and UC Davis (10/31).
Aggies Mixed Success On The Road:
The Aggies wrapped up their three-match road trip last week splitting a pair of SoCal matches. UC Davis fell to UC Riverside, 3-2, for the first time since November 5, 2011, before sweeping Cal State Fullerton. This week Long Beach State and CSUN make the trek up north to battle UC Davis at The Pavilion. The Aggies have never defeated the 49ers in 21 attempts.
The Aggies, led by Aima Eichie and Kelechi Ohiri, currently rank second in the Big West with a 2.32 average. Eichie is sporting a 1.22 blocks per set average, while Ohiri owns a .98 average.
Big West Leaders:
Senior Kaylin Squyres not only paces the Big West Conference with a 4.43 kills per set average, but she also ranks eighth in digs with a 3.51 average and ninth in service aces (.27). Teammate freshman Malia Bolko owns the third-best mark in digs at 4.18, while junior Allie Wegener has recorded .30 services aces per set to place sixth in the conference.
‘Eaters Earn Pair Of Victories:
UC Irvine picked up two more wins last week and have now won three of its last four contests. The Anteaters’ lone loss during that span was 3-0 loss to No. 8 Hawai’i. Looking to continue their winning ways, the Anteaters return home to host Long Beach State and CSUN. UC Irvine is 4-2 this season when playing in front of its hometown fans.
Tsujimoto’s Career Night:
In UC Irvine’s 3-1 victory over Cal State Fullerton last week, sophomore libero Luna Tsujimoto tallied a career-high 26 goals. Her impressive total moved her into the fifth spot in the Big West Conference with a 3.89 digs per set average.
The Anteaters, who outblocked their opponents 20-9 last week, currently rank third in the league with a 2.16 blocks pet set average.
Hain At The Helm:
Ashlie Hain, starting setter on UC Irvine’s 2003 and 2004 NCAA Tournament teams, returned to 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.
Highlanders Split Pair Of Home Contests:
UC Riverside notched its second Big West victory of the season with a 3-2 win over UC Davis. The Highlanders have won both league contests in five-set decisions, as they downed Cal State Fullerton, 3-2, in their conference opener on Sept. 25. Unfortunately the momentum wouldn’t carry over as UCR fell to visiting UC Irvine, 3-0, the following night.
The Highlanders, who own an overall mark of 7-15, need just one more win to tie for the highest win total since the 2005 squad registered a 16-11 mark. Twice, in 2008 and 2012, UC Riverside notched eight overall victories.
UC Riverside visits No. 6 Hawai’i for its lone contest of the week. First serve is slated for 10 p.m. (Pacific) on Friday, Oct. 30.
Can You Dig It?:
Ever since Maddie Hubbell began her career at UC Riverside three years ago, she has excelled on defense and this year is no difference. The junior libero currently paces the league with a 4.84 digs per set average. In 2014 she finished the year ranked eighth in the league and during her freshman campaign she ended her year in fourth.
UC SANTA BARBARA
After notching a pair of home victories, the Gauchos struggled on their Los Angeles road trip as they fell to both Long Beach State and CSUN. UC Santa Barbara is now 6-14 overall and 2-7 in Big West play.
Blue-Green Showdown On Tap:
The Gauchos return to The Thunderdome this week as they kick off a three-match homestand Thursday against central coast foe Cal Poly. The Blue-Green Rivalry contest is the lone match of the week for both schools.
The Gauchos, who have six wins so far this year, have never not tallied double-digit wins in a season. The lowest overall win total by a UCSB squad was 11 back in 2008, while the lowest conference win total of six happened a year earlier in 2007.
In UCSB’s 3-2 loss to CSUN last week, the Gauchos dominated at the net, outblocking CSUN 16-3. Phoebe Grunt and Elizabeth Sheffield led the way with a combined two solo blocks and 13 block assists. The pair rank in the conference’s top 10 with Sheffield (.96 BPS) sitting eighth and Grunt (.92 BPS) tied for ninth.
Hawai’i, riding an 13-match win streak - its longest win streak since UH won 19 in a row in 2012, own an impressive 18-1 overall mark to rank fourth in the country with a .947 win-loss percentage. The lone defeat came on Sept. 6 against to No. 25 UCLA (3-1). The Rainbow Wahine may be one win away from a perfect overall record, but the Rainbow Wahine do own an unblemished 8-0 record in Big West play.
Back In Action:
Following a 12-day hiatus, the Rainbow Wahine are back in action this week with their final two home contests of the regular season. Hawai’i battles UC Riverside (10/30) and Cal State Fullerton (11/1) at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Cramping Their Style:
The Rainbow Wahine are holding their opponents to a miniscule .135 hitting percentage to rank third in the country.
Hawai’i has swept 11 of its opponents this season, including a streak of six consecutive 3-0 victories from Sept. 20 - Oct. 9.