Big West Volleyball Season Begins With Tournament Play
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10 VB Release-Week 1
LBSU Tabbed Preseason Favorite
The Big West Conference head coaches selected Long Beach State to claim the 2010 women's volleyball title after receiving seven first-place votes and 79 total points.
If the coaches' prediction reigns true, the 49ers would capture their third straight championship, 11th overall. Long Beach State (22-9) is coming off a stellar season where it won the Big West title with a 12-4 mark and advanced to its 23rd consecutive NCAA Tournament, 24th overall. Despite losing two starters, the 49ers still showcase a veteran squad as they welcome back 12 letterwinners, which includes starting setter and All-Big West First Team selection Ashley Lee and fellow first teamer Caitlin Ledoux. The junior outside hitter finished second on the team and sixth in the Big West in kill average with a 3.58 clip. Also added to the mix is a recruiting class ranked 12th in the nation by PrepVolleyball.
The UC Irvine Anteaters received one first-place vote and a total of 68 points to secure the second spot. They bring back five starters and 12 letterwinners from a roster that tallied a 22-8 overall mark and an 11-5 Big West record, tying them for second with UC Santa Barbara. All-Big West First Team members Kari Pestolesi and Juliane Piggott paced the 'Eaters in kills last season and are set to lead the way once again.
UC Santa Barbara nabbed one first-place vote and 65 overall points to claim the third spot in the poll. The Gauchos return five starters and 10 letterwinners from a 2009 roster that registered an overall record of 22-8 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Cal State Fullerton was selected fourth after picking up 47 points, followed by Cal Poly and UC Davis, who were tied for fifth with 45 points. The Tigers of Pacific secured seventh place with 28 points and Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside were knotted in the eighth spot with 14 points apiece.
Top 25 Envy
While there was no Big West Conference representatives on the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top 25 poll, three teams did receive votes. Defending champion Long Beach State was first in line with 132 votes. UC Santa Barbara (51 votes) and UC Irvine ( 24 votes) also earned preseason recognition. The 49ers and Gauchos are attempting to gain respect right out of the gates, as they both play Top 25 opponents in their opening weekend tournaments. The Anteaters do have No. 4 Stanford on their upcoming lineup, but not until Sept. 2
Tournament play is the staple for the opening weeks of the volleyball season and 2010 is no different. All nine Big West schools open this weekend competing in a variety of tournaments. Pacific, headed to the Lone Star State for the Texas A&M Tournament, is one of two schools leaving the west coast to kick-off the new year. Along with the Aggies, the Tigers face No. 23 LSU and Siena.
The Cal Poly Mustangs are jet-setting to South Bend, Ind., for the Shamrock Invitational which includes a Top 25 opponent. Host Notre Dame, No. 18 Arizona and Marshall are on the docket for the Mustangs.
The other seven schools remain in the western states for their season-opening tournaments. Long Beach State remains home this weekend as they welcome Rutgers, Sacred Heart and No. 25 Saint Mary's to The Pyramid for the annual Long Beach State Baden Classic. Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara also face a Top 25 opponent at their respective events.
Stork, Stevenson Eyeing Century Mark In Career Wins
Cal State Northridge head coach Jeff Stork enters the 2010 season with the 100th career win milestone well within reach. Over the past eight years at the helm of the Matadors program, he has tallied a 94-136 overall mark.
Also approaching the 100-win plateau is Cal Poly's Jon Stevenson, who is just 10 wins shy. During his five seasons at Cal Poly, his teams have averaged 18 wins per season to post a 90-53 mark.
Only 11 Big West Conference coaches have collected 100 or more overall wins during their time in the league. Three of the 11 coaches are still coaching in the Big West - Long Beach State's Brian Gimmilaro (678), UC Santa Barbara's Kathy Gregory (606) and Cal State Fullerton's Carolyn Zimmerman (108).
Pacific Begins New Era With Gibbons
In the offseason, Pacific hired Greg Gibbons as head coach of the Pacific women's volleyball program. Gibbons has spent the last four seasons at UC Santa Barbara, including the last two as associate head coach. He was the primary recruiter for the Gauchos, and was involved in all facets of running the program. Prior to his time in Santa Barbara, Gibbons emerged as an outstanding club coach. He was the co-director and coach of the Los Angeles-based Sports Shack Volleyball Club from 2004-07.
Greg Gibbons becomes the third head coach for the Pacific Tigers women's volleyball program in as many years after Charlie Wade resigned in 2008 and David Johnson was named the interim coach for the 2009 season.
Fullerton Rides Wave Of Success Into New Season
The 2009 Titans tied the school record set by the 1981 team for the most victories in a season. At 18-12, the Titans also posted the school's best winning percentage at .600. With an 8-8 Big West record, last season was just the second time that the Titans finished with a .500-or-better winning percentage in conference action. Cal State Fullertons success was spearheaded by a trio of 2009 All-Big West First Team members - Cami Croteau, Kayla Neto and Erin Saddler. All three players are back in the lineup for the 2010 season.
To see head coach Carolyn Zimmerman talk about the upcoming 2010 season click here.
49ers Gain National Recognition For Incoming Class
Long Beach State's recruiting class, consisting of Chelsea Cabrajac, Haleigh Hampton, Delainey Aigner-Swesey, Kiri Hirini and Ashley Vazquez, ranked 12th in the nation by PrepVolleyball. The entourage joins 12 letterwinners, four of which were starters a season ago, in Long Beach States quest for its fourth straight league title.
Prosperus New Era For UC Davis
Under the guidance of second-year head coach Jamie Holmes, UC Davis won its final contest of the 2009 season to improve to 20-10 to secure its first 20-win season since competing at the DI level in the Big West in 2007. The last time UC Davis showcased a 20-win season was back in 1996 when the Aggies boasted a 21-6 mark and advanced to the NCAA DII Tournament. Along with the 20-win season, the Aggies concluded the year tied for second in the conference with an 11-5 mark. UC Davis returns five starters and eight letterwinners from last year's roster, while welcoming five newcomers.
Anteaters Led By Veteran Squad
UC Irvine tallied an overall mark of 22-8 and an 11-5 league record in 2009, tying for second in the Big West. Last season marked the Anteaters' third 20-win season since competing in the Big West. The previous two years where the 20-win plateau was reached were 2007 (21-11) and 2003 (24-10). Returning three All-Big West selections, including AVCA Honorable Mention All-Americans Kari Pestolesi and Juliane Piggott, and seven upperclassmen, five of which are starters, gives the Anteaters the needed arsenal to fight for the Big West title in 2010.
The Big West Conference is a California-only league and two schools have followed suit with their 2010 lineups. For the second straight year, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara each showcase rosters composed entirely of players from the Golden State. Crowning The Champion
Of the nine current members in the Big West Conference, four of them have captured at least one Big West title- Cal Poly, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara and Pacific. Long Beach State leads the quartet with nine conference championships, followed by UC Santa Barbara and Pacific with five apiece. The Mustangs round out the field with three titles.