UC Davis Goes For Three In-A-Row
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This Week in the Big West - September 5-11, 2011
UC Davis Goes For Three-In-A-Row
So far this season, the UC Davis Aggies have been nearly flawless as they opened the season with a 3-0 record at the Northern Colorado Classic, marking the program's first 3-0 start the Division I era. The Aggies followed that up by claiming the Park Inn Hurricane Invitational after tallying a 3-1 mark. In the final match of the tournament, UC Davis downed host Tulsa, ranked 23rd in the preseason and among the teams receiving votes in last week's AVCA poll. The victory over Tulsa marks UC Davis' first win over a Top 25 or receiving votes team since October 2009, when the Aggies upset then-No. 23 UC Irvine in conference action at Hickey Gym. The Aggies attempt to win their third consecutive tournament this weekend with a trip to Denver, Colo., to compete in the Pioneer Classic where they face host Denver, Drake, Missouri and UT-San Antonio.
Lights On At The Matadome
Tuesday, September 6 marks the first home match of the season for Cal State Northridge as it welcomes nationally-ranked USC to The Matadome for a 7:00 p.m. showdown. Last year CSUN went 6-6 when playing in front of its fans. The Matadors, who have won four straight, opened the 2011 season playing their first six contests on the road and fared pretty well, posting a 4-2 mark. Following the battle with the Trojans, Cal State Northridge returns to the road for the UNLV Invitational Sept. 9-10.
Gregory Goes For 850th
UC Santa Barbara head coach Kathy Gregory, is just one win away from capturing her 850th career victory. Currently she ranks third all-time among active Division I coaches. Gregory also ranks 10th in all-time victories across all divisions, according to the NCAA. This weekend the Gauchos compete in the Santa Clara Tournament where they face North Dakota, Santa Clara and San Jose State. Twenty-eight of her 36 years coaching the Gauchos was while UC Santa Barbara has competed in the Big West. During that time she has amassed a 624-283 mark.
The Pacific Tigers, who are tied for first in the Big West Conference with UC Davis at 6-1, continue to reign supreme in the league statistics. Pacific currently tops the charts in hitting percentage (.255), kills (15.17 K/S), assists (14.25 A/S), and digs (17.83 D/S). The only area that Tigers seem to be struggling in is their presence at the net, as they rank eighth in blocks with a 1.67 average.
Junior middle blocker Gabby Cowden is a force to be reckoned with, both offensively and defensively. She currently paces the Big West Conference with a .404 hitting percentage while also ranking third in the league in service aces, averaging .42 aces per set.
Up Against the Best
Two of the Top 10 teams in the nation are on tap this week for the Big West Conference. Cal State Northridge kicks it off Tuesday evening when it welcomes No. 9 USC to the Matadome for a 7:00 p.m. start. The Mustangs of Cal Poly face fourth-ranked Illinois in the second day of the Middle Tennessee Invitational. This is the first Top 25 matchup for the Matadors this season while the Mustangs are 0-2. Also facing some tough competition this weekend are the Pacific Tigers, who travel to the Big Island to battle the 12th-ranked Rainbow Wahine.
Long Beach Earns Top 25 Victory
In the final match of the Wahine Classic, the 23rd-ranked Long Beach State 49ers downed No. 22 Ohio State to earn their first win over a Top 25 team this season. The 49ers are now 1-3 against the best. Long Beach State's victory Sunday evening was also the first Big West win over a Top 25 program this season. This week Long Beach State is slated to host the Baden Classic where it will face Oregon State, Utah State and SMU, none of which are currently ranked in the AVCA poll. The Baden Classic kicks off a season-long six-match homestand for the 49ers.
Tigers Win Tournament Title
For the second consecutive season the Pacific women's volleyball team claimed the Community Bankers Classic title, this time winning the 33rd edition with wins over Mississippi State, Army and Duquesne. The Tigers 3-0 record over the weekend moves them to 6-1 on the season. Their lone loss this season came last Thursday against No. 18 Duke (3-1). Pacific looks to capture its third straight tournament title this week when it travels to the Aloha State for the Verizon Wireless Volleyball Challenge. The Tigers face host No. 12 Hawaii, Cincinnati and Rice in the three-day event.
MVP, MVP, MVP!
A trio of Big West athletes received top honors at their respective tournaments, as Megan Birch, Mahina Haina and Jenny Woolway were all named tournament most valuable player. Birch guided Pacific to the title of their home event - 33rd Annual Community Bankers Classic, Haina led Cal State Northridge to the Sacramento State Invitational Championship and Woolway helped UC Davis pick up its second straight title at the Golden Hurricane Classic.
Titans Pick Up Two
After a rough start to the season, going 1-2 in its opening weekend tournament at Loyola Marymount, Cal State Fullerton rebounded last week with 2-1 record. While competing at the Arizona Tournament, the Titans collected wins over Eastern Washington and Presbyterian and fell to the hands of host Arizona, who is receiving votes in the AVCA poll. Cal State Fullerton (3-3) looks to continue its success to the Montana Tournament where it faces the Grizzlies, along with Idaho and South Dakota.
Long Beach State Favorite To Claim 2011 Title
The Big West Conference head coaches selected Long Beach State to claim the 2011 women's volleyball title after earning seven first-place votes and 78 total points, according to the volleyball preseason poll. The Cal Poly Mustangs received two first-place votes en route to a point total of 72 to grab the second spot. For the second consecutive year UC Santa Barbara narrowly grabbed the third spot with 53 overall points. Defending champion Cal State Fullerton was selected fourth after picking up 52 points and is followed by Pacific who sits one point back with 51. UC Davis secured sixth place with 38 points, UC Irvine nabbed the seventh slot with 30 points and Cal State Northridge finished eighth after capturing 20 points. UC Riverside rounds out the nine-team field with 11 points.
Caroline Walters Named Cal Polys Interim Head Volleyball Coach
Caroline Walters has been named interim head coach of Cal Poly's women's volleyball team. Walters, who is in her third year as assistant coach, replaces Jon Stevenson, who was relieved of his coaching duties last week. Stevenson had been Cal Poly's head coach since the 2005 season. Walters, who was a standout collegiate player at Santa Clara University, was the Broncos' career leader in assists per game and was a three-time All West Coast Conference honorable mention.
As the Big West Conference enters its final year as a California-only league, two schools have followed suit with their 2011 lineups. For the third consecutive year UC Davis has showcased rosters composed entirely of players from the Golden State. Joining the Aggies this season with a California-filled roster are the UC Irvine Anteaters.
Crowning The Champion
Of the nine current members in the Big West Conference, five of them have captured at least one Big West title - Cal Poly, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, Pacific and newest member to the club Cal State Fullerton, who claimed its first championship last season. Long Beach State leads the quintet with nine conference championships, followed by UC Santa Barbara and Pacific with five apiece.