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Women's Volleyball

The Race Is On

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11 vb Release-Week 12


The Race Is On
Two weeks remain of the 2011 Big West Conference season and Long Beach State has already secured at least a share of its 12th Big West title with an 11-2 record. In a distant second are UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge, who are tied for second with a 7-5 league mark. The 49ers control their own destiny in the Big West race. They need just one more win to gain sole possession of the Big West crown, securing the automatic qualifier for the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament. If Long Beach State, who is riding a nine-match win streak, is unable to capture one more victory in its final three contests, it needs a loss by both UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge to win the title outright. This Wednesday, the Gauchos and Matadors face off at the The Thunderdome with the winner knocking the other out of contention for the title.

NCAA Selection Show
The field of 64 teams for the 2011 NCAA Volleyball Tournament will be unveiled on ESPNews at 3:00 p.m. (Pacific) on Sunday, Nov. 27. The first and second round host sites will also be announced during the selection show while the Regional and Final sites are predetermined. This year's Regional sites include Gainesville, Fla., Honolulu, Hawaii, Lexington, Ky., and Minneapolis, Minn., with the finals taking place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, December 15 &17.

The Year Of The Matador
The Cal State Northridge Matadors are showcasing one of their best performances if recent memory. The Matadors currently own a conference mark of 7-5, which matches its highest Big West win total since 2007 when they posted a 7-9 record. If Cal State Northridge can notch one more victory, it will have its highest league win total since the 2004 squad that tallied an 11-7 mark. One more victory would also bump their overall win total to 14, also the highest total since the 2004 season. Cal State Northridge is slated to face UC Santa Barbara, who is knotted in second place with the Matadors, twice, along with a single contest against Cal Poly and UC Irvine. The Matadors conclude the 2011 regular season hosting a nonconference matchup against Air Force on Friday, Nov. 25.

Home Is Where The Win Is
As we enter the final stretch of the 2011 season, UC Davis (20-8/6-7) sees greener pastures ahead as they concluded the year with a three-match homestand. The Aggies, who recorded a 0-2 mark in their final road contests last weekend, have been perfect when playing in front of their hometown fans, posting an unblemished 8-0 mark. As the only team in the Big West to maintain a perfect home record, UC Davis entertains Cal State Fullerton (11/11) and Long Beach State (11/12) this weekend before welcoming northern California foe Pacific to The Pavilion the following week.

Riverside Cleans Up Competition
UC Riverside recorded its third conference win of the season last Saturday with a 3-0 victory over UC Davis. The Highlanders sweep of UC Davis was the team's first conference sweep since Nov. 3, 2007. The victory also snapped a six-match series winning streak for UC Davis, dating back to October of 2008. The Highlanders are one victory away from matching their best performance since the 2004 season where the squad tallied a 4-10 mark. UC Riverside has four more contests to master that feat, facing Cal Poly twice and UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara once.

Banner Weekend For Birch
Pacific outside hitter Megan Birch not only had a career-best performance this weekend, she also made her mark in the school annals. In Friday's 3-0 win over UC Riverside, Birch posted a career-high .591 hitting percentage, recording 13 kills on 22 attempts with no errors. She guided the Tigers to a team clip of .506, the second best hitting percentage in Pacific's history. The following night versus Cal State Northridge, Birch notched 12 of her 13 kills in the second set, a single-set record for the Tigers in the rally score era.

Keddy Puts Best On Display
While Cal Poly suffered a 3-2 loss to UC Irvine last Saturday, not all was disappointing that evening as Jennifer Keddy displayed one of her best performances to date. The junior middle blocker recorded career highs in both kills and digs, notching an impressive 28 kills and 19 scoops. Keddy currently ranks third in the Big West in kills with a 3.91 kills per set average.

Can You Dig It?
In the same matchup that witnessed Cal Poly's Jennifer Keddy showcase her talent, UC Irvine's Kristin Winkler did the same. Winkler tallied 33 digs in the 3-2 win over the Mustangs, one scoop shy of the UCI record she set earlier this season against Portland State (34 digs). In the five-set match, the two teams combined for 205 digs, the second-highest dig mark in UC Irvine single-match history.

UC Davis First To 20
On October 29, UC Davis registered its 20th victory with a 3-2 win over Cal Poly. The Aggies, who clinched their second 20-win season in head coach Jamie Holmes' young career, were the first Big West Conference team to acquire 20 overall wins this season. Long Beach State and Pacific are inching their way to the milestone as the 49ers have 17 wins and the Tigers own 16 victories thus far.

Ledoux Joins 1,000-1,000 Club
On, October 22 against UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State's Caitlin Ledoux registered her fifth double-double of the season with 15 kills and 10 digs. The senior outside hitter's nightly scoop total pushed her over the 1,000-dig threshold, giving her the accomplishment of becoming just the third 49er to record both 1,000 career digs and 1,000 career kills. Former 49ers Tara Cross and Antoinnette White also posted impressive numbers during their tenure at Long Beach State. Ledoux's career totals currently sit at 1,502 kills and 1,031 digs.

Lowe On The Move
In Saturday's 3-2 win over Pacific, UC Santa Barbara libero Chelsey Lowe moved into 10th place all-time in career digs in the Gauchos annals. She recorded 19 scoops to pass Liz Towne (1985-88) for the No. 10 spot in school history. Currently leading the conference with 535 digs this season, Lowe owns a career total of 1,289 digs during her three years donning the blue and gold. Seventeen more digs will bump her to ninth in UC Santa Barbaras history books.

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 11 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 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.

California Girls
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.