CSF, UCSB Atop Leaderboard
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This Week in the Big West - October 3-9, 2011
Change Of The Guard
We entered last week with Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis atop the Big West standings with a perfect 2-0 mark. A week later and the Titans, 3-1 in the league, still remain in first place, but are now joined by UC Santa Barbara instead of the Aggies. UC Davis suffered two central coast losses and fell to 2-2 in Big West play. The duo currently knotted in first place is followed by Cal State Northridge, who sits third with a 2-1 record.
It was the wild, wild, west in the Big West Conference last weekend with both undefeated teams, UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton, notching their first conference loss, and UC Riverside picking up its first league victory in two years. The escapades began Friday evening with Cal Poly sweeping UC Davis, which snapped an 11-match win streak for the Aggies and handed them their first league loss of the season.
The following night Cal State Northridge matched the Mustangs' performance by sweeping the last remaining undefeated team in the Big West Conference - defending champion Cal State Fullerton (8-8/3-1). The Titans had opened the 2011 conference season, winning three straight before falling to the hands of the Matadors. Saturday's win was the first home victory of the season for Cal State Northridge (8-7/2-1).
Not only did UC Riverside collect its first league victory since Nov. 6, 2009, it did so by knocking off preseason favorite Long Beach State, 3-2. The Highlanders' win snapped a 15-match skid against the 49ers. The last time the Highlanders defeated Long Beach was back on Sept. 19, 2003.
Home Sweet Home
Following a conference-long 14-match road trip to start the season, UC Santa Barbara opened the home portion of its schedule with a bang. The Gauchos tallied a 2-0 record at The Thunderdome after downing northern California opponents Pacific, 3-1, and UC Davis, 3-2. UC Santa Barbara, who has won five of its six contests, is back on the road for the next three matches before hosting UC Riverside on Oct. 15.
Long Beach State and UC Irvine square-off at the Bren Events Center for a rare Tuesday evening Big West Conference showdown. The southern California matchup ends a three-match road swing for the 49ers and kicks off a three-contest homestand for the Anteaters, who are lone team in the league without a Big West victory.
Whitson Reaches Milestone
In UC Davis' meeting with UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Oct. 1, Allison Whitson captured her 1,000th kill. She mastered that feat by recording a match-high 18 kills in the Aggies' five-set loss to the Gauchos. The outside hitter from Palo Alto, Calif., became just the seventh player in Aggie history to reach the milestone and only the second junior to achieve the feat. She is averaging 3.72 kills per set to rank fifth in the Big West Conference.
It seems as if Cal State Northridge has turned things around since starting the conference portion of its schedule. The Matadors entered Big West play in the middle of the pack, statistically speaking. Since jumping into league action two weeks ago, the Matadors lead the Big West in conference-only contests in five categories. They are averaging a conference-best 15.00 kills, 14.00 assists and 19.70 digs per set, while limiting their opponents to a miniscule .128 clip. Led by freshman Mariah Counts' .60 service ace average, Cal State Northridge also finds itself knotted for first with UC Irvine in service aces (1.30).
Highlanders Give It Their All
Last week, UC Riverside played two five-set marathons, splitting the pair for a 1-1 mark. The Highlanders battled defending champion Cal State Fullerton down to the wire but fell just short. Against preseason favorite Long beach State the following evening, UC Riverside wouldn't let history repeat itself as it toppled the 49ers, 3-2. The Highlanders are now 2-2 in five-set matches this season. Coming of their first Big West victory in two years, the Highlanders looks to make it two in-a-row this week when they headed to northern California to battle UC Davis on Friday and Pacific on Saturday.
Mustangs Say Goodbye
Unfortunately for Cal Poly, it interrupts a six-match homestand this week to play a lone contest at UC Irvine Friday evening. The Mustangs, who are a perfect 3-0 when playing at Mott Gym, have struggled on the road this season, posting a 3-5 mark. The Anteaters, who have a full slate with three conference matchups this week, are 1-1 at home. The Mustangs-Anteaters showdown is slated for 7:00 p.m. at the Bren Events Center.
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.