Wednesday Marks Start Of Big West Play
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11 VB Release-Week 5
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This Week in the Big West - September 19-25, 2011
And So It Begins
This week marks the start of Big West Conference play. League-leading UC Davis, who currently sits atop the standings with a 14-1 mark, has the honor of kicking off the conference portion of the season as it visits northern California foe Pacific on Wednesday, Sept. 21. The match is slated to begin at 7:00 p.m.
The remaining seven Big West teams take to the court this weekend. Defending champion Cal State Fullerton and preseason favorite Long Beach State host central coast opponents Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara. Irvine tackles the NorCal schools and Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside battle in the Inland Empire Saturday night.
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.
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.
Despite starting conference play this week, two teams are squeezing in another nonconference match against San Diego State. Cal Sate Fullerton visits the Aztecs Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m., while UC Riverside entertains San Diego State Sunday afternoon.
Aggies Do It Again
Another week, another tournament title for the UC Davis Aggies. This time they had the luxury of claiming the title in front of their home town fans as they posted a 3-0 record at the Aggie Invite. Over the course of the first four weeks of the season, UC Davis was one slip-up, a 3-1 loss to North Dakota State, away from perfection as it owns a 14-1 mark. The impressive record surpasses the 1993 squad's 12-1 mark for the best start in program history. This week the Aggies visit Pacific (9-4) and host UC Irvine (5-5).
Top Of The Hill
After registering 56 digs in two matches last week as part of the UC Irvine Active Ankle Classic, Kristin Winkler took over the top spot in the Big West with a 5.32 dig average. UC Irvine teammate Alexandra Hauser continues to hold the league's top spot in service aces with a .41 average.
UCSB Concludes Road Trip
The end is near for UC Santa Barbara as it closes out a conference-high 14-match road trip to start the season this weekend. The Gauchos, who have competed in multiple tournaments throughout the western states to open the year, are headed to southern California this weekend to battle defending Big West Champion Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State. UCSB has accumulated a 7-5 record when playing away from The Thunderdome.
On The Rise
Long Beach State and UC Davis continue to make waves in the AVCA Top 25 poll. This week the 49ers find themselves tied for 21st in the national poll, their highest ranking this season. UC Davis picked up 15 additional votes this week to move up in the receiving votes category. The Aggies made their debut in the poll last week with 10 votes and after a 4-0 performance last week they have upped the ante to 25 votes to hold steady in the receiving votes category.
Hurray For Hampton
Long Beach State sophomore Haleigh Hampton is leading the Big West Conference in blocks for the second straight season, this time with a 1.70 average. She currently leads second place Jennifer Keedy (Cal Poly) by nearly half a block per set, while also ranking among the nations top 20. In the 49ers' most recent match against Idaho, she totaled an impressive 12 blocks (4 solo, 8 assist) en route to her fourth career double-double (13 kills, 12 blocks).
Two In-A-Row For The Highlanders
The UC Riverside women's volleyball team won back-to-back games for the first time since the 2009 season last Friday at the Hilton Stockton Invitational. The Highlanders opened the two-day event with a sweep over Loyola Marymount and later that same day Cal State Bakersfield received the same treatment as the Lions. Back on November 6 and 7, 2009, the Highlanders defeated Cal State Northridge and Cal State Bakersfield, respectively. The last time UCR swept back-to-back matches came on August 30, 2008, with victories over Bradley and Gonzaga.
Unfortunately UC Riverside dropped its third and final contest of the season Saturday afternoon, a 3-1 loss to San Jose State, but the Highlanders maintain a 3-10 record as they approach Big West play.
Cal Poly Opens Mott Gym
With A Bang
On Sunday, Sept. 18, following a 12-match season-opening road trip, the Cal Poly Mustangs kicked off the home portion of their schedule with a sweep over Cal State Bakersfield. This was the Mustangs' third sweep of 2011, having swept Long Island and Middle Tennessee State earlier in the year. Unfortunately, Cal Poly is back on the road this week to start Big West play, but will return home the following weekend to host UC Davis and Pacific on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
Gregory Claims 850th Win
UC Santa Barbara head coach Kathy Gregory, captured her 850th career victory after defeating North Dakota, 3-0, in the first game of the Santa Clara Tournament on Sept. 9. She now ranks third all-time among active Division I coaches. Gregory also ranks 10th in all-time victories across all divisions, according to the NCAA. Twenty-eight of her 36 years coaching the Gauchos was while UC Santa Barbara has competed in the Big West.
Caroline Walters Named Cal Poly's Interim Head Volleyball Coach
Caroline Walters has been named interim head coach of Cal Polys womens 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 Polys 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.