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Women's Volleyball

Conference Play Begins With ESPN3 Showdown


Women's Volleyball Release No. 5

• Conference play is set to begin this weekend with two of the tri-defending champions opening up on the road. CSUN, the owner of the league’s top record, takes on Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine, while Hawai’i heads to the mainland to play UC Davis and UC Riverside. Meanwhile fellow defending champion UC Santa Barbara opens its title defense in the Thunderdome against rival Cal Poly.

• CSUN senior middle blocker Casey Hinger has been selected as a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, the nation’s premier award for NCAA senior student-athletes.  Hinger joins men’s soccer player Sagi Lev-Ari as Matador student-athlete candidates for 2014. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in December.

• The Big West Conference announced that 11 women’s volleyball matches will be distributed on ESPN3 this fall, beginning on September 26 when CSUN visits Cal State Fullerton.

Fri., September 26 - CSUN at Cal State Fullerton
Sat., October 4 - CSUN at Long Beach State
Fri., October 10 - UC Santa Barbara at UC Irvine
Sat., October 11 - Hawai‘i at Long Beach State
Fri., October 24 - UC Davis at CSUN
Fri.,, October 31 - Hawai‘i at UC Irvine
Sat., November 1 - Hawai‘i at Cal State Fullerton
Fri., November 14 - Cal Poly at Long Beach State
Sat., November 15 - UC Santa Barbara at Long Beach St.
Thurs., November 20 - CSUN at UC Riverside
Wed., November 26 - UC Irvine at Long Beach State

• The Hawai’i at CSUN match on October 10 will broadcast live from The Matadome on FOX Prime Ticket with first serve slated for 7 p.m.

Mustangs Split Final Tuneup Prior To Big West Play: Cal Poly split a pair of matches during the Cal Poly/UC Santa Barbara Tournament, defeating Northern Illinois, 3-1, before falling to Santa Clara by a 3-2 count. The Mustangs will open conference play against rival UC Santa Barbara Saturday in their lone match of the week.

Four Down, Four Up: Cal Poly’s 5-5 record is highlighted by a pair of four game streaks. The Mustangs lost four in a row from August 30-Septmber 7 before winning four in a row between September 12-20.

Growing Up: Two of Cal Poly’s top players have been freshmen Raeann Greisen and Taylor Nelson. Greisen is a force at the net as she ranks sixth in the Big West in kills per set (3.36) and seventh in points per set (3.90). Taylor, a highly decorated recruit, is one of the top setters in the league, averaging 6.97 assists per set. That figure ranks sixth in the conference.

Titans Go 1-2 During Fullerton Classic: Cal State Fullerton finished up non-conference play by hosting the Fullerton Classic, going 1-2 over the two-day tourney. The Titans opened up with a 3-1 loss to Yale, then bounced back the following day against Georgetown, 3-2. CSF then fell to UCLA, 3-0, to wrap up the Classic.

Lights, Camera, Action: Titan Gym will be the stage for a coast to coast broadcast this weekend as Cal State Fullerton hosts defending champion CSUN in a primetime ESPN3 matchup. The match is the Big West opener for both squads.

Titan Leaders: Following a stellar weekend at the Fullerton Classic, freshman star Niki Withers upped her kills per set average to 3.96, ranking second in the Big West and 46th in the nation. Withers’ 4.23 points per set also ranks third in the Big West.

CSUN Rolling: The Matadors enter Big West play with a league-best 9-3 record, having won four of their last five matches. CSUN visits Cal State Fullerton for a ESPN3 primetime matchup, then heads to play UC Irvine which owns a league-high 10 wins.

Matadors Down Ranked Foe: CSUN defeated homestanding No. 19 San Diego last weekend, posting the first win by a Big West team over a ranked foe this season.

Hinger Feels Grand: When senior Casey Hinger recorded her eighth kill against Eastern Washington last weekend, she became the 11th player in CSUN history to surpass  1,000 career kills. At the conclusion of the weekend, Hinger ranks 10th in Matador history with 1,018 kills. CSUN actually has two active 1,000-career kill players as fifth-year senior Natalie Allen reached the milestone a year ago.

10 Is Good: Long Beach State enters conference play with a league-high tying 10 wins, hitting the road for matches against UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton. The 10 victories in non-conference play is the most for the 49ers since 2010.

A Storied Track Record: Long Beach State has a strong record against its two foes this weekend, posting a combined 150-13 mark (84-5 vs. CSF, 66-8 vs. UCI) against the two. The 49ers have won nine in a row against the Anteaters and have defeated the Titans in 63 of their last 64 meetings.

Turning Up The Defense: Long Beach State is one of the top defensive teams in the Big West, ranking first in opponent hitting percentage (.156), second in blocks per set (2.79) and tying for second in digs per set (15.47). Individually, LBSU has two players in the top five in the league in blocks per set in Bre Mackie (2nd - 1.27) and Ashley Murray (5th - 1.07).

Aggies Return Home:  UC Davis plays its first home match since September 7 this weekend, a showdown with defending Big West champion No. 25 Hawai’i. The Aggies played their previous seven matches on the road, going 3-4 during that span. UCD has only played two home matches this season, winning both of them .

Quinn’s Big Day: Senior Katie Quinn led UC Davis to a win over Hampton last weekend, posting eight kills and a career-high 12 blocks. Her block total ties for the second-best single match showing in program history, ties for the most in the Big West this season and is ties for the best four-set showing in the league.

New Face At The Helm: UC Davis welcomes Dan Conners, most recently the top assistant at  Illinois, as the new head coach for the Aggies.  His appointment marks a return to the Golden State, who spent three years as an assistant coach with the CSUN men’s volleyball team. He also served on the staffs at three elite women’s programs during the past eight seasons: Illinois, Nebraska and UCLA.

Streaking ‘Eaters: UC Irvine is one of the hottest clubs around, having won four in a row and 10 of their last 12. UCI is only four wins shy of its total from the 2013 season and has won its most non-conference matches since winning 11 back in the 2009 season.

UCI On The National Leaderboards: UC Irvine ranks in the top 40 in the NCAA in seven categories. The club is 10th in kills per set (14.50), 10th in team kills (654), 13th in team assists (693), 18th in assists per set (13.33), 34th in service aces (78), 35th in hitting percentage (.264) and 40th in digs (805).

Bubica Impresses: Junior Marisa Bubica has put her name at or near the top of several categories so far this season. Bubica leads the Big West in kills per set (4.39), and ranks fifth in hitting percentage (.331) and points per set (4.58). Her kills per set average also ranks 19th in the country.

Looking For Win No. 3: After a 2-1 performance at the SUU Tournament Sept. 5-6, the Highlanders struggled at the La Quinta Inn & Suites Invitational, where it will faced host Utah Valley, Portland and Idaho State, posting an 0-3 mark. Led by second-year coach Michelle Patton, the Highlanders need just one more win to best their win total from a season ago.  Patton joined UCR after spending five years reviving a San Francisco State program that lay dormant from 2004-07. 

They Can Dig It: The Highlanders are among the league’s best in digs, averaging 15.47 per set. That figured is tied for second in the Big West. Leading the way in that category is sophomore Maddie Hubbell who ranks ninth in the league with 3.77 digs per set.

This Is Home: UC Riverside’s home match against No. 25 Hawai’i this weekend is the first for the club this season. The Highlanders played 12 straight road matches to begin the 2014 campaign.

UCSB Wins Two At Home:  Defending champion UC Santa Barbara finally got a chance to play in front of its home fans and didn’t disappoint, winning both matches. The Gauchos swept Santa Clara then took down Northern Illinois by a 3-1 count. UCSB’s homestand will continue Saturday as it hosts rival Cal Poly in its Big West opener, then hosts UC Riverside and UC Davis the following weekend.

Helping Hands:  The duo of junior Hanna Nielson and sophomore Ali Santi are two of the top assist players in the league. Nielson is eighth in the league in assists per set (5.95), while Santi is right behind her in ninth (5.56). They are the only set of teammates in the top nine of the assists list.

Deja Vu?:  UC Santa Barbara’s performance in non-conference play prior to Big West games should look familiar. A year ago the Gauchos entered league competition with a 5-7 record, just one loss more than this year’s mark. 2013 ended with UCSB as the tri-champion of the conference.

‘Bows Back In The Rankings: After soundly defeating Northern Arizona in a pair of sweeps, Hawai’i has re-emerged in the AVCA Poll at the No. 25 position. The last time the Rainbow Wahine did not appear in the rankings was the final poll of the 1992 season. This week the defending Big West champions open conference play with a pair of road matches. UH will play UC Davis then head down to Southern California to take on UC Riverside.

No Returns:  The Rainbow Wahine lead the Big West and rank 13th in the NCAA in service aces per set, averaging 1.82. The squad owns the top two ace producers in the league as Tai Manu-Olevao (0.61) and Tayler Higgins (0.56) rank 1-2 on the aces per set leaderboard.

Tough At The Net:  Hawai’i has two of the top blockers in the Big West in junior Olivia Magill and senior Kalei Adolpho. Magill leads the Big West and ranks 11th in the country with 1.59 blocks per set. Adolpho gives UH two players in the top five on the league leaderboard as she ranks fourth at 1.10 blocks per set.