• Long Beach State continues to dominate the Big West Conference this season with an unblemished 12-0 record. UC Davis owns the second spot with a 10-3 mark while Hawai’i is close behind in third with a 9-3 record. The 49ers can capture the conference crown and automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament this week with a pair of wins. A single victory over UC Davis would also guarantee the 49ers at least a share of the title with Hawai’i if they run the table.
• In the latest RPI there is a trio of Big West schools among the top with Long Beach State leading the way with a 23rd ranking. The Rainbow Wahine sit 30th and CSUN rounds out the trio with a 37th ranking.
• The field of 64 teams for the 2014 NCAA Volleyball Tournament will be unveiled on ESPNU at 5:30 p.m. (Pacific) on Sunday, Nov. 30. The first and second round host sites will also be announced during the selection show while the Regional and Final sites are predetermined. This year’s Regional sites include Ames, Iowa, Louisville, Kent., Minneapolis, Minn. & Seattle, Wash., with the finals taking place at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., December 18 & 20.
• 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
Cal Poly Gears up For Final Home Contests:
Cal Poly wrapped up the road portion of its schedule with a pair of losses, but hopefully the same won’t be said in regards to their final home contests. The Mustangs play the first of their two home matches Saturday, Nov. 22 against Hawai’i.
Leading the Cal Poly offense is the freshmen duo of Caihla Petiprin and Raeann Greisen. Petiprin paces the squad with a .243 attack percentage and Greisen leads the way with a 3.56 kill average to rank fourth in the league. Junior Nicole Kessler dominates on defense with a conference second-best dig average of 4.30.
Cal Poly’s 2014 roster included nine players who had never played a collegiate match at the start of the year, making it 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. So far this season the freshmen have combined for 1018.5 of Cal Poly’s 1415.5 points ( 72%).
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Cal State Fullerton (8-18/2-11) closes out the home portion of its schedule this week with a lone contest against UC Irvine on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. The Anteaters won the earlier matchup by a score of 3-1.
Sophomore McKenna Painton returned to the lineup in Thursday’s match at UC Davis after missing the last three matches with tendinitis. She tallied 11 digs on the night and added nine more to her weekly total against UC Riverside. Despite missing three contests, Painton continues to rank in the Big West’s Top 10 with the eighth-best average of 3.62.
Withers’ Record Performance:
Freshman Niki Withers continues her dominating season as she registered a career-best .400 hitting percentage, blasting down 22 kills with just six errors in 40 attempts in the Titans’ win over UC Riverside. Withers currently ranks third in the conference with a 3.82 kills per set average.
CSUN Sweeps Central Coast:
The Matadors are back to their winning ways after posting a pair of victories last weekend to improve to 7-5 in league play and 16-8 overall. This week CSUN hits the road for the final time of the regular season with visits to UC Riverside and UC Davis. Earlier this year the Matadors downed UC Riverside but fell to UC Davis 3-2.
Blocking Her Way To The Top:
Sporting 458 total career blocks, senior Casey Hinger currently ranks second all-time in CSUN’s annals. Former Matador Lynda Morales (2007-10) owns the top spot with 492 blocks.
Boykin Elevates Her Play:
Thanks to boasting a .403 hitting percentage over the last four matches, Danetta Boykin has elevated herself to a .323 clip in conference-only matches to rank ninth in the Big West Conference. Against league opponents she’s averaging 3.69 kills a match to place third in the conference.
LONG BEACH STATE
The Big Goose Egg:
Long Beach State sits atop the Big West standings with a perfect 12-0 mark. The last time LBSU opened conference play 12-0 was back in 2001 when the 49ers ran the table and posted an 18-0 mark to claim the conference title.
Long Beach State continues to climb up the rankings, this week finding itself sitting 18th. The 49ers are also rising in the RPI to the 23rd slot.
One Win For The Title:
LBSU is sitting atop the standings at 12-0 and is followed by UC Davis in second place with a 10-3 mark. The two teams square off Friday night. If the 49ers are able to pull off a victory against the Aggies, they will secure at least a share of their 13th conference title and the AQ into the NCAA Tournament. A second win over the weekend would hand LBSU sole possession of the league crown since Hawai’i, who sits third in the league has three losses. Both Long Beach State contests this week are on the road.
On A Roll:
Following a loss to Long Beach State on October 25, UC Davis has won five straight to improve to 10-3 in the Big West Conference. The Aggies are currently in second place in the standings, trailing only Long Beach State, who is 12-0.
This Thursday UC Davis entertains undefeated LBSU in a crucial matchup. If the Aggies upset the 49ers, they are still in the hunt for the Big West title, but if the 49ers win, they clinch at least a share of the title and knock UCD out of contention. UC Davis also welcomes CSUN to the Pavilion Saturday. The Aggies downed the Matadors earlier this season in a five-set marathon.
Squyres Leads The Way:
Junior Kaylin Squyres paces the Big West with a 4.23 kills per set average. In conference-only contests, she bettered her average with a 4.78 mark.
New Face At The Helm:
UC Davis welcomed Dan Conners, most recently the top assistant at Illinois, as the new head coach for the Aggies over the summer. He 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.
UC Irvine Splits Central Coast Series:
UC Irvine (17-11/7-6) continues its season-ending four-game road trip with a single contest at Cal State Fullerton Saturday night. The Anteaters downed the Titans last month, 3-1.
Davis Cracks The Top 10:
Thirty-three combined digs last week for Arden Davis elevated her season total to 468 digs so far this season, which is good enough for 8th all-time in UC Irvine’s annals. She needs 12 more digs to grab the seventh slot.
Lee’s Swan Song:
At last week’s final home contest, senior Allison Lee shined on Senior Night, recording a team-high 11 kills in UC Irvine’s sweep over UC Riverside. Lee currently sits 10th in the Big West Conference with a 3.06 kill average.
Digging To The Top:
Guided by Arden Davis, who owns a league-leading 4.46 dig average, the Anteaters own the top spot in the Big West with a 16.21 scoop average.
On The Hunt:
With three matches remaining, two of which are at home, the Highlanders’ opportunity to capture their first conference win of the season is shrinking. Their last win was a sweep over Savannah State on Saturday, Sept. 6. This week UC Riverside entertains CSUN and league-leading Long Beach State.
Sophomore Bri Holmes continues to own the top spot on the Highlanders’ squad, sporting a 2.70 kills per set average and Ashley Cox sits second with a 2.64 mark. Defensively, freshman Meg Graham owns the school’s top spot with a .81 block average and sophomore Maddie Hubbell leads the way with a 3.58 dig average, which ranks her ninth in the Big West.
At The Helm:
Head coach Michelle Patton is in her second season at the helm of the UC Riverside Highlanders. Prior to joining the UCR family, Patton spent five years 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 Returns Set To Play Final Home Contests:
UC Santa Barbara suffered a pair of road contest last week, which halted a three-match win streak and dropped the Gauchos to 7-7 in the Big West and 12-13 overall. This week the Gauchos return to the Thunderdome, where they are 7-2 this season, to entertain Hawai’i in their final home contest of the year.
Leading The Way:
Powering the Gauchos’ offense is sophomore Phoebe Grunt, who ranks sixth in the Big West with a .315 hitting percentage. On defense, Ali Spindt is dominating both UCSB and the Big West with the league’s third-best dig total of 4.22. Ali Barbeau can also be found in the top 10 in services aces, posting the eighth-best average of .33.
Missing The Mark:
Sitting at 7-7 with just two games remaining, UC Santa Barbara will not reach the 10-win threshold for the second time in five year. The last time the Gauchos missed that mark was back in 2012 when they tallied a 9-9 Big West record.
Hawai’i Faces Crucial Road Matchups:
The Rainbow Wahine are headed to the mainland for their final road trip of the regular season to UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly in two crucial matchups. Hawai’i need to run the table and hope LBSU falters down the stretch in order to keep its hopes alive for capturing at least a share of its third straight Big West title.
The Big 1-0:
Kalei Adolpho registered 10 blocks in UH’s 3-1 victory over CSUN, tying for the fourth highest block total in the Big West this season. The senior middle blocker owns the conference’s second-best block average of 1.29.
Against The Best:
Hawai’i currently ranks fifth in the nation with a 3.09 blocks per set average. Olivia Magill is leading the charge with the country’s 17th-best average of 1.44. Magill is also dominating on offense with a .422 hitting percentage to rank 10th in the nation. Averaging 0.45 services aces per set, Rainbow Wahine Tai Manu-Olevao sits 15th in the country.