Wide Open Race For The Title Begins This Weekend
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11_WWP Release No. 9
The conference portion of the women's water polo schedule gains full focus this weekend with four matches on tap. All six Big West schools are nationally ranked for the seventh straight week.
Big West Action Begins This Weekend
The conference portion of the 2011 season commences this weekend with four teams in action. Cal State Northridge, which has earned a share of the Big West regular season title in each of the last two seasons, hosts UC Davis and Pacific following a 16-day break from competition. The Matadors (16-11) are on pace to record their third consecutive 20-win season. They are 2-0 on a current seven-game homestand. CSUN is the only Big West school to have won back-to-back league openers in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
UC Santa Barbara also hosts the Aggies and Tigers as part of conference opening weekend festivities. The Gauchos have won five straight and seven of their last eight contests. UC Davis is playing exceptionally well with victories in 13 of its last 15 outings, while Pacific is riding a five-match winning streak.
UC Irvine and Long Beach State await the start of their conference seasons next week, but both schools are competing on the non-conference front this week. The Anteaters host No. 6 Loyola Marymount, No. 14 Hartwick and top-ranked Stanford, providing some rugged preparation for the two-time defending Big West Tournament champions. Hartwick will play the rare day-night doubleheader against two different teams at two different sites, facing off against UCI at noon and then heading up the 405 to battle LBSU at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Momentum In Play
All six Big West schools have momentum heading into the stretch run of the 2011 season. UC Santa Barbara and Pacific each sport current five-game win streaks, but delving into the recent history of all league members reveals a pattern of success.
• Cal State Northridge has won seven of its last 10 since Mar. 5.
• Long Beach State is 7-2 in its last nine games since Mar. 11.
• UC Davis posted 10 straight wins from Feb. 17 to Mar. 20 and has won 13 of its last 15.
• UC Irvine has won four of its last five.
• UC Santa Barbara is victorious in seven of its last eight contests.
• Pacific has claimed wins in seven of its last eight games.
For the seventh straight week, all six Big West schools are accounted for in the Collegiate Water Polo Association top 20 rankings. Long Beach State is ranked No. 10 nationally for the third straight week. The 49ers have toppled five ranked squads this season, including wins over fellow ranked Big West foes UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Northridge, UC Davis and UC Irvine. LBSU also has threatened No. 2 USC (14-10 loss on Feb. 19), No. 11 San Jose State (10-8 loss on Feb. 27) and No. 6 Loyola Marymount (5-4 loss on Mar. 19) in a clear demonstration that the 49ers are the Big West’s most improved program following an 8-21 campaign in 2010.
UC Irvine is ranked No. 13, followed right behind by No. 14 UC Santa Barbara and No. 15 UC Davis. Rounding out the list of ranked Big West teams is No. 17 Cal State Northridge and No. 18 Pacific.
Big West Owns Automatic Qualification To NCAA Championship
The Big West fulfilled a two-year waiting period to earn automatic qualification to the NCAA Championship, meaning the winner of this year’s conference tournament will receive one of eight slots in the national tournament. The third annual Big West Tournament is set for April 29-May 1 in Santa Barbara.