Rollercoaster Season For Big West
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11 VB Release-Week 6
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This Week in the Big West - September 26-October 2, 2011
Craziness In The Big West
If the first week of Big West play is any indication of what the future holds, the quest for the 2011 title is going to be a tough-fought battle. Five of the eight matches played opening weekend went five sets, while the remaining three resulted in sweeps. Some of the highlights were preseason favorite No. 21 Long Beach State falling in five sets to UC Santa Barbara and defending champion Cal State Fullerton continuing where it left off last season, going 2-0. The Gauchos victory marked their first win at Long Beach since November 2004.
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot
UC Davis opened conference play with a 2-0 mark, downing both Pacific and UC Irvine, to increase its current win streak to a league-best 11. The Aggies are in the midst of a historic season as they surpassed the 1993 squad that posted a 12-1 record to start the season. This year UC Davis has complied a 16-1 mark, besting the performance in 1993 for the best start in school history. The Aggies impressive run has also garnered national recognition as they rank fourth nationally for their winning percentage (.941) and find themselves third in the others receiving votes category in the AVCA Top 25 Poll.
Up next for the Aggies is a trip to the central coast to battle both Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, who knocked off nationally-ranked Long Beach State to kick off Big West play.
UC Davis wasn't the only the team that made it out of the first week of Big West action unscathed. Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge picked up victories to remain undefeated in league play. The Titans swept Cal Poly and toppled UC Santa Barbara, 3-2, while the Matadors posted a 3-0 victory over UC Riverside for their first conference-opening win since 2007. The two teams face off Saturday, Oct. 1 at The Matadome, guaranteeing one team will pick up a Big West loss. Prior to Saturdays matchup, the Matadors entertain Long Beach State and the Titans visit UC Riverside.
Home At Last
The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos finally get to play a volleyball match in front of their hometown fans this weekend. Following a conference-high 14-match road trip to start the season, the Gauchos open the doors to The Thunderdome as they entertain northern California foes Pacific and UC Davis. UC Santa Barbara squares off with the Tigers for its home-opener Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. and then tackle the conference-leading Aggies Saturday night. The Gauchos, who have won eight of their last 10 contests, were 5-4 at home in 2010.
Long Beach State isn't just dominating the Big West Conference at the net, the 49ers are powering their way through the national standings. Currently owning a league-high 3.07 block average, Long Beach State ranks second in the country. The 49ers are lead by sophomore Haleigh Hampton, who's 1.60 mark paces the conference and places her third in the nation.
Cal Poly's Jennifer Keddy also ranks among the top 20 in the nation in blocks, averaging 1.37 blocks per set.
UC Davis leads the Big West in hitting percentage with a team average of .236. Leading the way for the Aggies are senior middle blockers Betsy Sedlak and Katie Denny, who sit one-two in the conference rankings. Sedlak owns a .343 clip, while Denny is hitting .333.
UC Irvine Battles Top 20 Opponent
UC Irvine looks to breaks its three-contest skid Thursday evening with a nonconference matchup versus No. 18 San Diego. The Anteaters are the fourth Big West team to take on the Toreros this season. Cal Poly dropped a 3-2 contest, while UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara were both swept by the SoCal team. UC Irvine hopes to fare better in this weeks showdown that takes place at the Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego.
Pacific started the 2011 season claiming six of its first seven contests, but stumbled during its trip to Hawaii where it posted a 1-2 record. The Tigers are back on prowl, having won four of the last six outings, including a 3-2 victory over visiting UC Irvine. In their win over the Anteaters, Pacific came from two sets back to ultimately win the five-set marathon. This week Pacific heads to the central coast to battle UC Santa Barbara (9/30) and Cal Poly (10/1).
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.
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 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.