UC Santa Barbara Hosts Third Annual Big West Tournament
Files associated with this release:
2011 Big West Tournament Bracket
11_WWP Release No. 13
Links associated with this release:
Women's Water Polo Championship Page
The Big West Women’s Water Polo Tournament begins this weekend at UC Santa Barbara’s Campus Pool with top seed UC Irvine aiming to win its third tourney title in as many years.
The tournament champion will be granted an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship, which will be held May 13-15 at the Donald B. Canham Natatorium in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Big West champion will join other automatic qualifiers from the Collegiate Water Polo Association, Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and Western Water Polo Association among an eight-team field vying for the national title. The Big West fulfilled a two-year waiting period before becoming eligible for an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
However, the focus is squarely on the conference tournament this week. First round action begins on Friday, April 29 with No. 4 seed Pacific taking on No. 5 seed UC Davis at 3:30 p.m., followed by the third-seed and host Gauchos battling No. 6 seed Long Beach State at 5:15 p.m.
UC Irvine (19-8, 5-0), which became the first team in the Big West’s brief women’s water polo history to finish league play undefeated, received a bye into the semifinals. The Anteaters see their first action of the tournament on Saturday, April 30 at 3:30 p.m against the winner of the Pacific-UC Davis match. Second-seeded Cal State Northridge faces the winner of UC Santa Barbara-Long Beach State at 5:15 p.m. in the other semifinal.
Three matches are scheduled for Sunday, May 1 to contest fifth place, third place and first place. Consolation bracket play begins at 11:00 a.m. with the fifth place match. The third place contest follows at 12:45 p.m. while the championship match will begin at 2:30 p.m.
UC Irvine bids to win its third championship in the unfamiliar role as top seed. The Anteaters won last year’s tournament as a No. 4 seed. In 2009, UCI won three straight matches as a No. 3 seed. The Anteaters, one win shy of 20 victories, have defeated nine of their last 10 opponents. UCI defeated the highest ranked foe by any Big West school this season, dropping No. 6 Loyola Marymount 11-9 on March 31.
With all six Big West schools being represented in the Collegiate Water Polo Association top 20 poll, the road to the title will be a formidable test for UCI. Teams pushed UCI during conference play, as the Anteaters registered three wins by a combined four goals.
Cal State Northridge (21-14, 3-2) owns the most wins of all Big West schools but also carries a three-match losing streak heading into the tournament. UC Santa Barbara (16-11, 3-2) is 9-3 playing in its home pool this season. The Gauchos are 1-1 against first round opponent LBSU, winning a tight 8-7 decision on April 16 and losing 5-2 to the 49ers at the Triton Invitational on Feb. 12.
Pacific (20-11, 2-3), which captured its second straight 20-win season, split two regular season meetings with UC Davis. The Tigers squeezed past the Aggies, 6-5, on April 16 in a conference victory. UCD had an easier time against Pacific on Mar. 3, taking a 10-3 win as part of the Aggie Shootout.