The NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Committee announced the 64-team field for the 2011 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship and 2011 Big West Champion Long Beach State earned its 25th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, 26th overall, joining Penn State, Stanford and Nebraska as the only programs with that distinction.
Thirty-one conferences were awarded automatic qualification, and the remaining 33 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket. The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and placed within four regions. The teams tabbed as the top four seeds were No. 1 Texas, No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Illinois and No. 4 Iowa State.
The 23rd-ranked 49ers (23-6), who received a bid to this year's tournament after claiming their 12th Big West Conference title, are slated to open the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament facing at-large selection No. 20 San Diego (27-4) at Wooden Center, on the campus of UCLA, at 5:30 p.m. for the second straight year. In the 2010 NCAA Tournament, Long Beach State fell to then-ranked No. 18 San Diego, 3-0, in the first round at The Galen Center in Los Angeles. The 49ers lead the overall series with the Toreros, 10-7.
The Bruins (24-6), an at-large selection from the Pac-12, battle MEAC Champion Maryland-Eastern Shore (24-6) in the second match of the doubleheader on Friday, Dec. 2. The winner of the Long Beach State-San Diego contest will face either ninth-seeded UCLA or Maryland-Eastern Shore Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7:00 p.m. in second round action. The Westwood, Calif., First and Second Rounds are part of the Lexington Regional.
First- and second-round matches are played at 16 campus sites. Teams winning both matches will move on to regional play Dec. 9 and 10. The pre-determined regional sites are Gainesville, Fla.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Lexington, Ky.; and Minneapolis, Minn. All regional semifinal games will be shown on ESPN3.com while regional final games will air on ESPNU.
The regional winners will advance to the semifinals and final hosted by UT-San Antonio and San Antonio Sports at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on Dec. 15 and 17. Both national semifinal games as well as the championship game will be telecast by ESPN2.
49ers Extend Win Streak
Nationally-ranked Long Beach State enters the NCAA Tournament on a hot streak. Last week the 49ers (23-6, 14-2) closed out the 2011 regular season winning three contests, extending its season-long win streak to 15-matches. Nine of those contests took place in the familiar confines of The Walter Pyramid.
Titan Fans Set New Record
In the first women's home volleyball match broadcast by ESPN, 1,026 fans entered Titan Gym to witness the clash between Cal State Fullerton and No. 3 Hawaii, setting a new attendance record. Unfortunately the fan support wasn't enough, the Titans fell to the Rainbow Wahine, 3-1. Last week's showdown was also a preview of what is to come in a new-look Big West, with Hawaii set to make the conference a 10-team league beginning in July 2012.
The televised contest on ESPN3 is part of a 10-game Big West distribution package in collaboration with ESPN and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. In addition to the opening women's volleyball match, this year's package includes two baseball, two men's basketball, two women's basketball, one MPSF men's volleyball and two softball games.
The Year Of The Matador
The Cal State Northridge Matadors are showcasing one of their best performances if recent memory. The Matadors concluded the 2011 Big West Conference season with a 9-7 mark, which is their highest league win total since 2004 when the squad tallied an 11-7 record. CSUN, which was picked to finish eighth in the Big West in the coaches preseason poll, ends the conference season with sole possession of third place, the highest for a Matador team since the 2003 squad finished tied for second. They also posted a 16-13 overall mark to notch their highest overall win total since 2004 (17-11).
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 LBSU'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.
UC Davis, Long Beach State
Eclipse 20 Wins
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, was the first Big West Conference team to acquire 20 overall wins this season. A few weeks later Long Beach State joined the Aggies with a 3-1 victory over UC Irvine. This marks the 49ers' 15th 20-plus win season.
Minkel Eyes Big West Top 10
Long Beach State Senior Lauren Minkel collected 43 digs last week, continuing her climb up the LBSU record books. She recently surpassed Tara Cross, who finished her career with 1,578. Minkel currently owns 1,638 scoops with the NCAA Tournament to go. Minkel can reach the top of the list by passing Heather Laudato, who recorded 1,686 career digs from 2002-05. With her performances last week, Minkel grabbed the 10th spot in the Big West's career digs list.
Duo Blocks Its Way Into Record Book
Betsy Sedlak and Katie Denny finish at No. 2 and No. 3 on UC Davis' career blocks list. Sedlak's five stuffs in the Aggies' season finale brought her total to 393, while Denny's block assist lifted her tally to 361. Sedlak also finished with a career hitting average of .336, well ahead of Candy Lench's previous Aggie benchmark of .309.
Riverside Makes History
On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the UC Riverside Highlanders collected their second straight win with a 3-1 victory at UC Irvine. With the win, the Highlanders tied the program record for most wins in Big West play with four, held by the 2003 and 2005 squads. It also marked the first time UC Riverside claimed back-to-back Big West Conference victories since October 4 and 10, 2008, against Cal State Northridge and UC Davis respectively. The Highlanders were unable to keep their winning ways alive and concluded the 2011 season with a 7-23 overall, 4-12 conference record.
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.