Top Teams Square Off Live On ESPN3
Big West Volleyball Release - Week 6
• Four teams opened Big West play with an unblemished record - CSUN, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara and Hawai’i. This week two of the undefeated teams square off as the 49ers entertain the Matadors at The Pyramid live on ESPN3 Saturday night. The Rainbow Wahine play their first home conference matches of the year, hosting UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton, and UC Santa Barbara, along with Cal Poly, are set to battle UC Riverside and UC Davis.
• 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.
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.
Cal Poly Looks To Rebound With Pair Of Home Contests: Cal Poly needs to rebound from a disappointing five-set loss in the Blue-Green Rivalry last week where the Mustangs, leading 2-0, suffered a 3-2 loss to the Gauchos to open Big West play. This week Cal Poly welcomes UC Davis and UC Riverside to Mott Gym, where Cal poly is 4-1 this season.
Nelson Produces Career Best: Freshman setter Taylor Nelson tallied a career-high 58 assists in Cal Poly’s five-set loss to UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. She also added 13 digs on the night.
Freshman Power: The Cal Poly offense continues to be led by the youth as Raeann Greisen holds the sixth spot in the league with a 3.48 kills per set average. Newcomer Hannah Mathiesen sports a 3.00 kill average to place second on the team.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Titans Travel To Face Ranked Opponent: It’s time for the Titans to pack their bags for a trip across the Pacific to face No. 24 Hawai’i, their second ranked opponent of the season. Cal State Fullerton fell to No. 22 UCLA back on September 20.
Diaper Dandy Dominance: Niki Withers doesn’t just rank No. 1 among all freshmen in the Big West, she also paces the Titans and sits second in the Big West Conference with an impressive 3.89 kills per set average. Withers opened the season registering double-digit kill performances in 14 straight contests. Her streak ended Saturday against Long Beach State when she only managed to post eight kills.
Midseason Struggles: In the first eight matches of the season, Cal State Fullerton produced a 5-3 record, but since then the Titans have struggled on the court. In the last seven contests, the Titans have posted a disappointing 1-6 record. They enter Saturday’s match at No. 24 Hawai’i riding a three-match skid.
Stork Reaches Milestone: Friday’s sweep over Cal State Fullerton not only handed CSUN a conference-opening win but awarded Head Coach Jeff Stork his 200th career victory. The Matadors picked up another victory the following night against UC Irvine to improve his overall record to 201-194 and his CSUN mark to 178-188.
Top Teams Square Off On ESPN3: Winning six of the last seven matches, CSUN closes out its season-opening, 15-match road trip this week for a solo match at Long Beach State, who also opened Big West play with a 2-0 mark. First serve is slated for 7:00 p.m. live on ESPN3.
Second Best: The Matadors currently sit second in the Big West Conference in three separate categories - hitting percentage (.253), kills (13.80) and assists 12.73). Hitting a .394 clip, Sam Kaul ranks second in the league to lead the Matador squad.
LONG BEACH STATE
Off To A Good Start: Long Beach State kicked off the conference portion of its schedule with a perfect 2-0 mark on the road, which included a 3-1 win against Black & Blue rival UC Irvine. This week the 49ers return to The Pyramid to host CSUN, 2013 tri-Big West Champion, live on ESPN3. First serve is slated for 7:00 p.m. Last season the Matadors took both contests by score of 3-1 and 3-2.
Okpala On Fire: A near-perfect performance by Chisom Okpala led Long Beach State to handing out its seventh sweep of the season, with Cal State Fullerton being the recipient. Okpala notched 10 kills on 11 attempts for a career-best .909 clip, which tied for second-best in LBSU history.
Turning Up The Defense: Long Beach State is one of the top defensive teams in the Big West, ranking first in opponent hitting percentage (.159), second in blocks per set (2.69) and tying for second in digs per set (15.61). Individually, LBSU has two players in the top five in the league in blocks per set in Bre Mackie (2nd - 1.23) and Ashley Murray (5th - 1.06).
Conference Play Brings The Fans: The UC Davis Aggies opened Big West play in front of a season-best crowd of 1,136 at The Pavilion. Unfortunately the 25th-ranked Rainbow Wahine proved too much for the Aggies and they fell to Hawai’i by scores of 25-18, 25-18 and 26-24. This week the Aggies leave their hometown to visit the Central Coast to face UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly.
Two Sides of Squyres: Averaging 3.73 kills per set places junior Kaylin Squyres first among her teammates and third in the Big West Conference. She is also a force on defense, recording the team’s second best dig average of 2.94.
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.
Aloha Ranked Opponent: UC Irvine tackles its first ranked opponent of the season this week when it visits No. 24 Hawai’i Saturday at 4:00 p.m.
Anteaters Struggle In Conference Opener: The Anteaters are coming off an 0-2 start to Big West play, dropping contests to Long Beach State (3-1) and CSUN (3-2). This marked the first time the Anteaters dropped back-to-back matches since opening the season with losses to Xavier and Cincinnati.
UCI On The National Leaderboards: UC Irvine ranks in the top 25 in the NCAA in five categories. The club is 15th in kills per set (14.23), 8th in team kills (868), 10th in team assists (802), 21st in assists per set (13.15) and 25th in service aces (91).
Pickrell Seeing Double: Sophomore outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell dominated on both sides of the ball in last week’s contest against Long Beach State to record a double-double. She tallied 19 digs and 21 kills, tying her highest offensive output of the season.
Back On The Road: UC Riverside’s homestand was short-lived as the Highlanders are back on the road this week after hosting Hawai’i at the Student Recreation Center in its season opener. This week the Highlanders head to the Central Coast to battle UC Santa Barbara Friday and Cal Poly Saturday. The Highlanders opened the 2014 season with a 12-match road trip where they went 2-10.
On The Hunt: On a seven-match skid, the Highlanders are in need of a victory to turn things around. Their last win was a sweep over Savannah State on Saturday, Sept. 6.
The Scoop On Hubbell: Sophomore Maggie Hubbell continues to not only pace the Highlanders but rank among the best in the Big West Conference in digs. So far this season she has recorded 195 digs in 50 sets for a 3.90 average, placing her eighth in the league.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Home Perfection: UC Santa Barbara closes out its five-match homestand this weekend when it entertains UC Riverside and UC Davis at The Thunderdome, where the Gauchos are a perfect 3-0. The Gauchos, who have won three straight, collected their first Big West victory of the season last week with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Central Coast foe Cal Poly. The five-set victory bumped UC Santa Barbara to an even .500 at 6-6.
Sophomore Standout: Sophomore middle blocker Phoebe Grunt paces the Gauchos and ranks fourth in the league with a .341 hitting percentage. Recording 30 total blocks (4 solo, 26 assist) for a .79 average, she sits second in the league in blocks.
Taylor Made: Opposite Britton Taylor was an integral part in the Gauchos’ comeback victory in their conference opener as she notched a team-high 17 kills while hitting an efficient .333 clip.
Hawai’i Opens League Play 2-0: On their quest for a third straight Big West Conference title, the Rainbow Wahine opened league play with back-to-back sweeps over UC Davis and UC Riverside. This week Hawai’i, riding a five-match win streak, returns home to the Stan Sheriff Stadium to host Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.
Leading The Way: Hawai’i continues to lead the Big West in both blocks and service aces. The Rainbow Wahine, led by Olivia Magill’s league-leading 1.58 average, own a 3.17 blocks per set average that ranks third in the nation. Thanks to a one-two punch by Tai Manu-Olevao and Tayler Higgins, Hawai’i ranks 20th in the country with a 1.69 service ace average. Manu-Olevao paces the conference and sits ninth in the nation with a .54 average while her teammate sits 15th with a .51 aces per set mark.
Magill’s Power: Junior Olivia Magill is the lone Big West athlete sporting an above-.400 hitting percentage. The middle blocker from Shoreline, Wash., holds a .409 clip to rank 21st in the nation.