Preseason Favorite Atop Big West Standings
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11 VB Release-Week 9
Preseason Favorite Atop Big West Standings
Another week, another Big West member in first place in the Big West Conference standings. In the first four weeks of league play, four different teams have owned the coveted number one spot. UC Davis and defending Big West champion Cal State Fullerton opened the conference portion of their schedules with a 2-0 mark to tie for first. The following week the Titans found themselves knotted for first with UC Santa Barbara, but fell out of the top spot shortly after to give the Gauchos the throne. With four weeks of Big West play in the record book, preseason favorite Long Beach State is currently top dog in the Big West with a 6-2 mark.
The 49ers' sole possession of first place could potentially be short-lived with their challenging week ahead. This weekend Long Beach State travels to the central coast to battle Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, two teams that are currently tied for second place, along with Cal State Fullerton, with a 4-3 record. The Mustangs and Gauchos also entertain the Titans.
UC Riverside's Explosive
Comeback Makes History
UC Riverside was down two sets to none and trailing the third and possibly final set, 25-24, but the Highlanders rallied back to take the third set. The Highlanders, who were playing in hostile territory, carried that momentum into the final two sets, winning with scores of 25-19 and 15-12 to complete the comeback. The Highlanders' victory over the Gauchos is the first in the program's Division I history and first since November 21, 1975. UC Riverside, who snapped a three-match skid with Saturday's win, continues its four-match road swing on Saturday, Oct. 22 with a 7:00 p.m. contest at Cal State Northridge.
Home Is Where The Win Is
Two Big West teams currently hold an unblemished home record. UC Davis has tallied six victories in front of its hometown fans and Cal Poly, who picked up two more wins at Mott Gym last week, are 5-0 at home. The Mustangs conclude a four-match homestand this weekend when they entertain Long Beach State (10/22) and Cal State Fullerton (10/23). The Aggies visit UC Irvine Friday evening for its lone contest of the week before returning home for a two-match home stint against central coast foes Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara the following weekend. UC Davis splits its playing time between Hickey Gym and The Pavilion.
Long Beach States Haleigh Hampton is currently ranked No. 1 in the country in blocks with a 1.64 average. In 70 sets, the sophomore middle blocker has tallied 115 total blocks.
CSF's Ragan Sets New Standard
Cal State Fullerton may have lost to Pacific on Friday evening, however, there was a shining moment for the Titans. In the middle of the match, senior setter Andrea Ragan elevated herself to the top of the school's career assists list. She concluded the evening with 31 assists, upping her career total to 3,930 assists over 353 sets. Add that to her Saturday total of 40 assists, Ragan is just 30 assists from becoming the first Titan to reach the 4,000 assist plateau. Ragan surpassed former record holder Julie Geissert, who registered 3,907 assists in 361 sets.
The Mustangs of Cal Poly must be singing the likes of Buster Poindexter's Hot, Hot, Hot, because they have been nearly untouchable in the last few weeks. Cal Poly was in a slump early in the season, but they seemed to have worked things out and have found a way to get the once elusive 'W'. In fact, Cal Poly has made a trend of it, winning four of its past five contests. All four of its wins were in the familiar confines of Mott Gym and lucky for Cal Poly, it has two more home contests before hitting the road, where the Mustangs struggled early on.
Sea of Orange And Gold
When looking at the Big West statistics, the colors gold and orange are well represented as Long Beach State and Pacific each lead the league in three categories. The 49ers hold court in hitting percentage (.238), opposing hitting percentage (.144) and blocks (3.11), which also ranks among the best in the nation. The Tigers rank number one in assists (13.12), kills (13.99) and digs (17.11). The only category that neither team has captured the top spot in is service aces. UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge own that distinction with a 1.22 service ace average.
In conference only statistics, Long Beach State holds the top spot in the same three categories, but the same doesn't ring true for Pacific. The Matadors seem to have taken over the same three statistics that Pacific dominated in the overall stats - assists, kills and digs, and the Anteaters of UC Irvine find themselves as the leader in service aces.
Defending Champs Back On Track
Defending championship Cal State Fullerton kicked off the Big West portion of its schedule with a three-match win streak but the Titans followed that up with a three-match skid. Things seemed to turn around for the Titans last Saturday after they handed UC Davis its second straight loss of the weekend. Cal State Fullerton is now tied for second in the league with a 4-3 mark. The three-way tie for second will soon be unraveled as the Titans are slated to play the other two second-place teams on the road this weekend - UC Santa Barbara (10/21) and Cal Poly (10/22).
Long Beach State Picked
To Claim 2011 Title
The Big West Conference head coaches selected Long Beach State to claim the 2011 womens 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 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.
49ers' Diaper Dandies
Long Beach State has one of the youngest teams in the nation in 2011. Seniors Lauren Minkel and Caitlin Ledoux are the only two members of Long Beach State's current rotation that has more than one full year of experience on the floor, and five freshman have had more than 20 sets played this season. Long Beach State ranks in a tie for fourth in the nation in the number of freshman and sophomores on the team with 13 in total.