CSUN, UCSB Tied For First As Title Race Heats Up
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This Week in the Big West - October 28-November 3, 2013
Following an exicting week of Big West women's volleyball that included a pair of upset wins, No. 24 Cal State Northridge and UC Santa Barbara find themselves knotted in first place with a 7-1 mark. Preseason favorite No. 13 Hawai'i and Long Beach State are tied for third with a 5-3 record.
Big West Volleyball Release - Week 10
Back On Track: Cal Poly snapped a four-match slump last week, defeating both Cal State Fullerton (3-1) and UC Riverside (3-0). The double dose of wins improves the Mustangs’ Big West mark to 4-4, placing them in a tie for fifth with UC Davis.
Turnaround Season: The pair of Big West Conference victories last week pushed Cal Poly to 4-4 in the league, besting last year’s conference win total of three. With an overall record of 10-11, the Mustangs have also improved their overall mark from a season ago (4-26).
Rivalry Week: This week Cal Poly hosts the Blue-Green Rivalry match Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7:00 p.m. at Mott Gym. The Gauchos downed the Mustangs in their first meeting on Oct. 5 at The Thunderdome.
Freshman Standout: Freshman Taylor Gruenwald had another stellar weekend, totalling 21 kills and recording a .385 hitting percentage against Fullerton and a .421 clip against Riverside. The diaper dandy currently ranks sixth in the Big West with a .314 hitting percentage but in conference-only contests she betters her average to a third-place clip of .346.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Titans Take On Tough Competition, Looking To Snap Losing Streak: Cal State Fullerton has a tough task in front of it as the Titans enter the week looking to snap its four-match skid. The Titans hit the road to battle conference-leading No. 24 Cal State Northridge and UC Davis, both of who knocked off No. 8 Hawai’i last week by scores of 3-2.
Hensley Has Stellar Night: Senior Alyse Hensley posted a career-high 22 kills in Cal State Fullerton’s 3-1 loss to Cal Poly, breaking her old mark of 20 set on Oct. 4, 2013, against UC Davis. This is the first year Hensley is playing for the Titans, after playing one season at Arizona and two at Loyola Marymount
Can You Dig It?: Cal State Fullerton has been known for stellar defense for several years and this season is no different. The Titans moved to fourth in the nation and pace the conference in digs with a 18.07 average. They are led by freshman McKenna Painton, who owns a league-best 4.62 average, while Bre Moreland and Alyse Hensley sit sixth and ninth with marks of 3.52 and 3.42.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
CSUN Wins Epic Battle Over No. 8 Hawai’i: Cal State Northridge defeated eighth-ranked Hawai’i in a five-set marathon at The Matadome that lasted nearly three hours. Game scores were 30-32, 28-26, 20-25, 25-22 and 15-10. The Matadors defeated the Rainbow Wahine for the first time in its history and picked up their first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 25 Long Beach State in 2008. The impressive win lifted Cal State Northridge to 24th in the AVCA Top 25 poll.
A View From The Top: With last week’s upset victory over No. 8 Hawai’i, Cal State Northridge improved to 17-4 overall and 7-1 in the Big West Conference and finds itself knotted in first place with UC Santa Barbara.
Showdown At The Matadome: Cal State Northridge continues its three-match home stand this week when it entertains Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside at The Matadome.
1,000 And Counting...: Earlier this season senior Mahina Haina became the ninth player in Matador history to eclipse the 1,000-kill mark and teammate Natalie Allen is approaching the same mark with a career total of 944.
LONG BEACH STATE
Is LBSU Next?: Nationally-ranked Hawai’i, who ran the conference table last year with an 18-0 mark, has lost three of the past four matches. This week Long Beach State visits Hawai’i for a Saturday-night showdown at the Stan Sheriff Center in hopes of reversing its fortune from an earlier match where the 49ers lost to Hawai’i 3-0. First serve is slated for 10:00 p.m. (pacific).
Sweet November: Long Beach State is riding a season-long four-match win streak and there is a good chance the 49ers’ winning ways may continue, seeing how the month of November has been prosperous for the 49ers in the past. For the last two seasons Long Beach State has been perfect in the month of November, posting back-to-back 7-0 records in the final stretch of the regular season.
Juley Approaches Career Milestone: Sophomore Erin Juley is expected to eclipse the 2,000 career assist threshold this week. The setter from La Grange, Ill., collected 31 assists last week to bump her career mark to 1,995. Her impressive number places her ninth in the LBSU annals.
Historic Win For The Aggies: Led by career-best performances from junior Mary Schroeder (17 kills) and junior Megan Lancaster (21 digs), UC Davis knocked off Hawai’i in a 3-2 thriller at The Pavilion. The win marked the second time UC Davis has beaten a ranked team. The Aggies previously upset then-No. 23 UC Irvine back on October 30, 2009.
UC Davis Continues Home Stretch: Currently tied for fifth in the Big West with a 4-4 record, UC Davis closes out a three-match homestand this week when it hosts UC Riverside (10/31) and Cal State Fullerton (11/2).
Coach Eyes Milestone: Head Coach Jamie Holmes is just two wins away from eclipsing the 100-win threshold during her six-year stint at the helm of the UC Davis women’s volleyball program.
Climbing The Ranks: Opposite Devon Damelio continues her trek towards her 1,000th career kill. She needs 58 kills to become the eighth Aggie to reach the milestone.
Win Streak Haulted: After winning back-to-back matches, UC Irvine was unable to keep the winning streak alive as the Anteaters were swept by Long Beach State last weekend as part of the Black and Blue Rivalry.
Jet-Setting Anteaters: The Anteaters are headed across the Pacific Ocean to take on No. 13 Hawai’i in their lone match of the week. Earlier this year UC Irvine fell to the Rainbow Wahine 3-1 on their home court.
Squires Leaving Mark At UC Irvine: Senior outside hitter Aly Squires recently became just the fifth Anteater to reach 4,000 attack attempts. Last week she notched 21 attempts against Long Beach State land increassed her career attempts total to 4,027. Her efforts vaulted her past UC Irvine’s Popi Edwards, who totaled 4,013 attempts from 1992-95, to rank fourth in the UCI annals. To crack the Big West’s Top 10, Squires would need to record 4,441 career attempts.
In Search Of A Big West Win: UC Riverside has its hands full this week as it battles No. 24 Cal State Northridge and UC Davis, both of who posted upset wins over nationally-ranked Hawai’i, on the road. The Highlanders are the lone team in the conference that has been unsuccessful in securing a Big West victory.
Leading The Charge: Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Cox paces the Highlanders with a 2.85 kills per set average and is closely followed by freshman outside hitter Cristina Maietta with a 2.81 mark. Freshman libero Maddie Hubble continues to dominate on defense, owning a 3.90 dig average that places her third in the conference.
A New Look: UC Riverside is competing in its first season with Michelle Patton at the helm of the program. Prior to joining the UCR family, Patton spent five year reviving a San Francisco State program that lay dormant from 2004-07. In 2012, the Gators posted the second best winning percentage in the history of the program going 21-9 on the year including a 16-6 mark in California Collegiate Athletic Association play and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
UC SANTA BARBARA
UCSB Sweeps Its Way To The Top: Sweeps over UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton improved UC Santa Barbara’s conference record to 7-1, placing them in a tie for first in the Big West Conference with Cal State Northridge. This week the Gauchos tackle central coast foe Cal Poly in the Blue-Green Rivalry match.
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot: First year head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch has the Gauchos headed in the right directions. The Gauchos started a little rocky, opening the season with a 3-6 record but have since won nine of their last 11 contests, including a season-long seven-match win streak. Four of those wins were by a score of 3-0 and one victory was over nationally-ranked Hawai’i.
Conference-Leading Performances: Since entering conference play UC Santa Barbara has been on fire and it is showcased in the Big West stats. In conference-only stats, the Gauchos pace the Big West with a .271 hitting percentage, 14.10 kill average and 3.13 dig average. Individually, Freshman Allie Sullberg sits atop the charts in blocks with a 1.52 mark.
Hawai’i Struggles On The Road: The Rainbow Wahine suffered its first Big West loss since rejoining the Big West season on Oct. 11 when UC Santa Barbara defeated nationally-ranked Hawai’i, 3-2. Hawai’i picked up two additional five-set losses last week when it visited Cal State Northridge and UC Davis. Hawai’i has now dropped three of its last four contests and currently sits tied for third in the league with a 5-3 mark.
A Rare Sighting: The epic battle against the Matadors marked Hawai’i’s first conference road loss in seven years (UH was in the WAC at the time). The loss also ties the Rainbow Wahine with the 1994 team, that went 15-3, for the most conference losses.
Hawai’i Heads Home: The Rainbow Wahine return home this week in hopes of getting back to their winning ways as they welcome UC Irvine (11/1) and Long Beach State (11/2)to the Stan Sheriff Center. Hawai’i is 11-2 when playing in front of its hometown fans.