Big West Women's Volleyball Release - Week 5
Big West Tid Bits
Big West Conference play kicks off this week with UC Irvine and UC Davis receiving the honors of hosting the first league contests of the year. The Anteaters welcome CSUN to Crawford Court, while the Aggies host the 49ers. First serve for both contests is slated for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday. Friday’s lone contest is very intriguing as it pits defending conference champion No. 14 Hawai’i (7-4) against current league-leader UC Santa Barbara (9-4), who posted its best start since 2009. The Rainbow Wahine, who were undefeated in conference play in 2015, haven’t suffered a Big West loss since they fell to LBSU, 3-2, back on Nov. 7, 2014. This Friday’s showdown marks the first road contest for UH, who travels to Cal Poly the following night.
Another interesting showdown is the Cal State Fullerton-UC Riverside matchup at Fullerton on Saturday, Sept. 24. The Titans enter the aforementioned match with a conference winless streak dating back to Nov. 15, 2014, when they captured a 3-0 victory over the Highlanders. Cal State Fullerton, who was winless in 2015, has already secured five victories this season.
After a 13-match, season-opening road trip, the UC Davis Aggies finally play their first home match of the season at The Pavilion this Thursday when they open Big West play hosting Long Beach State. UC Davis, who was 6-3 at home in 2015, also entertains CSUN two days later. Like UCD, Cal Poly opens conference play with its first home contest of the year, following an 11-match journey, as the Mustangs host defending champion Hawai’i at Mott Athletics Center Saturday evening. Last year the Mustangs posted a 7-3 mark when playing in front of their hometown fans.
The Matadors and Highlanders will play one more week of road contests before their first home openers to accumulate conference-high 14-match road trips.
LBSU’s Barber Earns AVCA Player Of The Week:
On Tuesday, Sept. 13 the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced its national Player of the Week award and recognized Long Beach State’s Nele Barber as its honoree. Barber, who was named the Big West Player of the Week on Monday, had an incredibly consistent weekend for the Beach, recording at least 17 kills in each match. In her near-triple-double against Duke, she posted a career-high nine blocks to go with 19 kills and 14 digs. In LBSU’s biggest win of the season, a commanding sweep of then-No. 25 LMU, Barber hit a match-high .567, taking 30 swings without an error and putting down 17 kills.
Overall, in 18 sets played last week, Barber hit .299, averaging 4.39 kills, 2.94 digs and 1.06 blocks per set.
This is the 11th time in program history a Long Beach State student-athlete has garnered Sports Imports/AVCA Player of the Week honors, and the first since October 14, 2014 when Bre Mackie took home the honor.
UC Davis Upsets No. 17 Santa Clara: UC Davis upset 17th-ranked Santa Clara in four sets, 25-21, 25-16, 19-25 and 25-20, to close out the Boise State Invitational women’s volleyball tournament last weekend. This marks the highest ranked team that UC Davis has defeated since the program’s five-set upset of then-No. 8 Hawai’i back on October 26, 2013.
UC Santa Barbara continues to lead the Big West in blocks with an average of .278. They are led by senior Phoebe Grunt, who is averaging .95 blocks per set. The last time the Gauchos ended the season pacing the Big West in blocks was 2004.
Kekauoha Notches Triple-Double Opening Weekend: In UC Irvine’s 3-2 loss to Marquette opening weekend, sophomore Harlee Kekauoha recorded a triple-double with 15 kills, 19 assists and 14 digs.
Hawai’i Picked To Repeat As Conference Champion:
The University of Hawai’i has been unanimously selected to repeat as the Big West Conference women’s volleyball champion, according to the Big West women’s volleyball preseason coaches poll as voted on by the nine head coaches. The Rainbow Wahine, who reclaimed the title last season with a perfect 16-0 mark, captured all nine first-place votes en route to a perfect 81-point total.
Long Beach State secured the second slot after securing 68 points and earning the third spot with a point total of 66 was Cal Poly. The Anteaters of UC Irvine ranked fourth with 47 points and is followed by UC Davis after tallying 44 points. UC Santa Barbara, who welcomes the No. 24 recruiting class in the nation, according to PrepVolleyball.com, nabbed the sixth slot after registering 39 points. CSUN holds the seventh spot with 29 points and UC Riverside locked-in the eighth position after grabbing 20 points. Rounding out the nine-team field is Cal State Fullerton with 11 points.
Gauchos Welcome Top Recruiting Class:
In 2016, the UCSB women’s volleyball team will be joined by the No. 24 recruiting class in the nation, according to PrepVolleyball.com. This is the program’s third appearance on the list in four years and its fourth ever top-30 selection, including last year’s school record No. 18 ranking.
Big West Live:
A showdown between longtime women’s volleyball rivals Hawai‘i and Long Beach State kicks off Prime Ticket’s 2016-17 coverage of Big West sports. The first of 20 televised events on the network, UH and LBSU will battle on Saturday, October 8 at 8:00 p.m. (PT) inside the Walter Pyramid.
ESPNU is set to televise the Hawai‘i at UC Riverside women’s volleyball match Friday, October 28 at 8:00 p.m. (PT) inside the SRC Arena, which was updated with a newly designed floor over the summer.
The Big West Conference also announced that 11 women’s volleyball events will appear on its fall ESPN3 schedule, beginning with a Sept. 30 women’s volleyball clash between Cal Poly and Long Beach State. Complete list
Big West In Rio:
A total of 26 Big West Conference athletes, coaches and staff represented nine different nations in fifteen different sports at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Included in the mix was former CSUN volleyball player Lynda Morales. The former Matador and her teammates from the Puerto Rico National Team participated in the Olympic Games for the first time this summer in Rio.