• Long Beach State made it through another week of Big West play unscathed as it sits atop the Big West standings with a perfect 8-0 mark. Hawai’i sits second at 6-2 and is followed by CSUN, UC Irvine and UC Davis, who are knotted in third with a 5-3 record. The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara are even at 4-4, while Cal Poly sits sixth at 2-6. Cal State Fullerton is eighth with a 1-7 mark and UC Riverside is still in search of its first victory.
• In the latest RPI there is a trio of Big West schools among the top with Hawai’i leading all nine Big West schools with a 30th ranking. CSUN follows close behind in the 32nd spot while Long Beach State sits 36th.
• The Big West Conference owns a 60-50 mark (.545) against nonconference opponents.
• Casey Hinger of the CSUN women’s volleyball team has been named one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, given annually to the sport’s top senior both on and off the court.
The final 10 were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in September. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through December 8. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches’ votes to determine the winner. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in December.
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 Big West Conference announced that 11 women’s volleyball matches will be distributed on ESPN3.
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
Mustangs Hope To Turn Things Around:
Cal Poly suffered its fourth straight loss last week, falling to Hawai’i, 3-0, dropping 2-6 in league play. The Mustangs look to turn things around this week when they visit UC Davis and UC Riverside, who combine for a 5-11 Big West mark.
Big West Dominance:
Junior Nicole Kessler continues to be the leader on defense, sporting the conference’s third-best 4.46 dig average. Also making waves in the conference statistical categories is Raeann Greisen, who sits sixth in kills with a 3.34 average.
With a 14-member roster that includes nine players who had never played a collegiate match at the start of the year, Cal Poly entered the 2014 season as one of the youngest programs in Division I. Cal Poly’s percentage of freshmen players – 64 percent of its roster – leads the nation while the team’s eight combined seasons of returning collegiate experience rank second in youthfulness to only Chicago State, which possesses just five total years of Division I experience.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Cal State Fullerton Captures First Conference Win:
Cal State Fullerton’s victorious feeling was short-lived as the Titans fell to UC Irvine a week after collecting its first Big West win. The Anteaters handed the Titans a 3-1 loss, dropping CSF to 1-7 in the league and 7-14 overall.
Withers, An Unstoppable Force:
Freshman Niki Withers continues to be the catalyst to the Titans’ offense, leading Cal State Fullerton with a game-high 17 kills against UC Irvine last week. The three-time Big West Conference freshman of the week currently sits fourth in the league with a 3.63 hitting percentage.
Leader Of The Pack:
In her 13th season at Cal State Fullerton, Carolyn Zimmerman currently possesses an all-time record of 180-200 (.474). The sixth head coach in Fullerton’s 37-year history; she is the winningest head coach in CSF volleyball program history.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
CSUN Matches Conference Loss From Championship Season:
The Matadors picked up their third conference loss of the season last week, falling to UC Davis 3-2. CSUN is now 5-3 in Big West play and has already matched its league loss total from a season ago where it was crowned tri-Big West champion. This week the Matadors host league-leading Long Beach State, who is undefeated in the Big West with an 8-0 mark.
Kaul’s Block Party:
In CSUN’s 3-1 win over UC Riverside, Sam Kaul matched her career-high with nine blocks. The senior middle blocker ranks second on the squad with 55 total blocks.
This Girl Is On Fire:
Sam Kaul currently ranks second in the Big West and is 27th in the nation in hitting. She is on pace to break the school’s single-season hitting record held by Kathleen Dixon who hit .394 in 1989. She will also best her own CSUN rally scoring era record of .317 set last season.
LONG BEACH STATE
Long Beach State has kept its unbeaten streak intact for another week after defeating UC Riverside and UC Davis. The 49ers sit atop the Big West standings with a perfect 8-0 mark. The last time LBSU opened conference play 8-0 was back in 2001 when the 49ers ran the table and posted an unblemished 18-0 mark to claim the conference title.
LBSU Battles CSUN In Solo Match:
Riding an eight-match win streak, Long Beach State visits CSUN for its lone contest of the week. The 49ers defeated the Matadors, 3-1, back on October 4.
Holding the Highlanders to a -.066 hitting percentage last week, which was the lowest mark against the Beach this season, elevated Long Beach State to a conference-best .146 opposing hitting percentage. The impressive mark ranks the 49ers 11th in the county.
49ers Against The Best:
Long Beach State currently ranks 24th in the AVCA Top 25 poll and 36th in the RPI.
Aggies Tied For Third:
UC Davis split a pair of contests last week, downing CSUN, 3-2, before falling to league-leading Long Beach State, 3-1. The Aggies are now in a three-way tie for third place with a 5-3 record.
UC Davis Heads Home:
Following a four-match homestand, the Aggies return to The Pavilion to host central coast foes UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. UC Davis defeated both teams earlier this season.
Can’t Touch This:
A season-high service ace total was a huge contributor to UC Davis’ victory over CSUN last week. The Aggies combined for 15 aces, which bested their previous season high by five.
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.
Anteaters Win Five Straight Big West Showdowns:
The Anteaters picked up their fifth straight conference victory after downing Cal State Fullerton, 3-1, last week. The Anteaters find themselves tied for third with a 5-3 mark.
A Look Ahead:
Following a rare nonconference matchup at San Diego State Monday, UC Irvine entertains Hawai’i for a Halloween matchup on ESPN3. The Rainbow Wahine won the previous matchup against the Anteaters at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Players Excel In Win:
In UCI’s victory over the Titans, Cassidy Pickrell matched a personal-best with 25 kills and posted an impressive .377 hitting percentage The outside hitter first hit the 25-kill mark last year against the Titans in a five-set match in which she recorded a .447 hitting percentage and she was one of several Anteaters to post personal best in tonight’s win. Allison Lee chipped in 11 kills and 13 digs and led the team with four aces, a single-match high for the senior.
Led by Maggie Hubbell’s 3.68 dig average, UC Riverside ranks third in the conference with a 15.18 digs per set average. Hubbell is currently eighth in the league.
On The Hunt:
On a 14-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. To clinch their first Big West win of the season, UC Riverside will need to knock off Cal Poly or UC Santa Barbara. The Highlanders host the Mustangs Thursday evening at the Student Recreation Center, while the Gauchos take to the court Saturday night.
Highlanders Hope For Better Luck At Home:
UC Riverside plays five of its next seven contests in the familiar confines of the Student Recreation Center. This might be what the Highlanders need to turn things around. So far this season, UCR has played just three home contests in its first 20 matches.
UC SANTA BARBARA
UC Santa Barbara Closes Out Road Trip:
UC Santa Barbara (4-4) closes out a three-match road trip with stops at UC Davis and UC Riverside. Earlier this season the Gauchos swept the Highlanders and fell to the Aggies, 3-1.
Sophomore middle blocker Phoebe Grunt continues to lead the Gauchos with a .333 hitting percentage, which ranks her fourth in the league. The double-threat has proven powerful at the net on defense as well, posting the team’s second-best block average of .86.
A Defensive Effort:
Spearheaded by Ali Spindt’s 25-dig total in the 3-1 loss to Hawai’i, the Gauchos posted 74 total digs, which is second only to their 76-dig performance against UC Irvine earlier this year. The sophomore outside hitter turned libero currently paces the Big West Conference with a 4.51 dig average.
After suffering back-to-back to conference loses, the Rainbow Wahine are back on track. Last week they downed Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara at the Stan Sheriff Center to improve to 5-3 in the Big West Conference. This week they visit UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton with both matches airing on ESPN3.
Stat Leaders Square Off:
Halloween night at the Bren Center will be action-packed as it marks the showdown between Hawai’i, the conference’s blocks and service ace leader, and UC Irvine, who paces the conference in hitting percentage, kills and digs. The matchup also pits the league’s top kills leader, UCI’s Marisa Bubica (4.01 KPS), against the Big West’s best attacker, UH’s Olivia Magill (.400). First serve is slated for 7:00 p.m.
Sophomore outside hitter Nikki Taylor and senior libero Sarah Mendoza both set new career-highs in Hawai’i’s 3-1 win over UC Santa Barbara. Taylor ripped a career-high 22 kills and Mendoza dug a career-best 25 attacks.