• Long Beach State captured its 13th Big West Conference title last week after picking up two more wins to improve to 14-0. They have a chance to become the second team in three years to capture the conference crown with an unblemished record as they entertain UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton in the final week of the regular season. Hawai’i, who won at least a share of the title the past two seasons, earned the league title in 2012 with an 18-0 record.
• 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.
Cal Poly Gears up For Final Home Contests:
Cal Poly concludes the 2014 season entertaining central coast foe UC Santa Barbara at Mott Gym. Having lost three straight, the Mustangs are hoping to end things on a positive note with a Big West victory that would bump them to 5-11 in league play and 10-16 overall.
Freshman Raeann Greisen continues to pace the Mustangs on offense with a 3.57 kill average that places her fourth in the Big West. In conference-only contests, she betters her performance, tying for third with a 3.71 kills per set mark.
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 1051.5 of Cal Poly’s 1469 points ( 72%).
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Titans Prepare For Final Road Trip:
Cal State Fullerton closes out the 2014 season on the road battling CSUN and Big West Champion No. 16 Long Beach State. Wednesday's match at The Matadome is slated for 5:00 p.m and first serve against the 49ers Saturday night is set for 7:00 p.m.
Withers And Reed Top Personal Bests:
During last week’s showdown with UC Irvine, freshman Niki Withers and sophomore Paige Reed produced personal-best performances. Withers led the offensive attack with a career-high 28 kills, while Reed scooped a career-best 32 digs. It was her first career 30-dig effort and also set the new team-high for the Titans this season
Junior Holland Crenshaw is currently pacing the team with a .317 hitting percentage, which ranks seventh in the Big West Conference, and Niki Withers’ team-high 3.95 kills per set average places her third in the league. Defensively, McKenna Painton owns the conference’s eighth slot in digs with a 3.60 average.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Stork Approaches Milestone:
CSUN Head Coach Jeff Stork needs just one more conference win to eclipse the 100-conference win threshold, joining the ranks of only four other Big West coaches. The Matadors have two final opportunities to capture the milestone win this season as they host both Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine. Coaching in his 13th season in the Big West, he currently owns a 99-111 Big West mark.
Blocking Her Way To The Top:
Sporting 466 total career blocks, senior Casey Hinger currently ranks second all-time in CSUN’s annals. She also recently moved into second place in block assists with 412. Former Matador Lynda Morales (2007-10) owns the top spot in CSUN history with 492 career blocks and 457 career block assists.
A Team Effort:
CSUN continues to pace the Big West Conference in hitting percentage (.267), kills (14.05) and assists (13.06). Nationally, the Matadors rank 20th in hitting percentage and 25th in kills.
LONG BEACH STATE
Long Beach State registered another pair of Big West victories last week to secure the 2014 conference crown and the league’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA Volleyball Tournament for their 27th appearance in the postseason. This marks the first title for the 49ers since 2011 and their 13th overall.
Two More To Go:
The 49ers enter the final week of the regular season with a perfect 14-0 Big West record on the line. If LBSU manages to go unscathed at home against Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine, it will be the first time since 2001 that 49ers ran the table to grab the conference championship. It would also mark the second time in three years a team captured the league title with an unblemished record, Hawai’i doing so in 2012 with an 18-0 mark.
The 49ers are led by Chisom Okpala and Ashley Murray, who sit three-four in the Big West’s hitting percentage. Okpala owns a .374 clip while Murray is hitting .347. In conference-only contesting, Okpala boasts a conference-high .430 attacking percentage. Murray is also leading the way at the net, registering a team-high 1.26 blocks per set average to ranks third in the league.
UC Davis Stumbles Down The Stretch:
After stringing together five consecutive victories, UC Davis suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since Sept. 19-20 to nationally-ranked Long Beach State and CSUN last week. The Aggies drop to third place in the Big West with a 10-5 mark.
Aggies Close Season At Hawai’i:
The Aggies wrap up the 2014 season with a trip to the islands for a showdown with the Rainbow Wahine, who won the previous matchup this season by a score of 3-0. A win would give UCD its 11th conference win of the season, tying a school record for most Big West victories. The Aggies recorded 11 wins in both 2009 and 2012.
UC Davis sits atop the Big West with a 1.61 service ace average, which ranks 17th in the nation.
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 Ends Season On The Road:
In the midst of a four-match, season-ending road trip, UC Irvine battles No. 16 Long Beach State, live on ESPN3, and CSUN. The Anteaters (18-11/8-6) dropped both contests earlier this year, falling to LBSU, 3-1, and CSUN, 3-2.
Davis Digging Her Way To The Top:
Last week Arden Davis elevated her season total to 485 digs, which is good enough for 7th all-time in UC Irvine’s annals. She currently owns a league-leading 4.45 dig average to lift the Anteaters to the top of the Big West with a 16.33 scoop average.
In last week’s 3-1 win over Cal State Fullerton, Cassidy Pickrell tallied her 11th double-double of the season with 16 kills and 17 digs. The outside hitter is fifth in the Big West in points per set at 4.04 and is ranked fifth in kill average (3.48) and third in aces (.38).
It’s A Wrap:
UC Riverside, searching for its first Big West victory of the season, closes out the season at No. 25 Hawai’i Friday evening. Their last win was a sweep over Savannah State on Saturday, Sept. 6. If the Highlanders are unable to secure a victory this weekend, it will mark the first time they have gone winless in conference play since 2010.
Ashley Cox paces the Highlanders offensively with a 2.64 kills per set average and is closely followed by Bri Holmes with a 2.59 mark. Defensively, freshman Meg Graham owns the school’s top spot with a .75 block average and sophomore Maddie Hubbell leads the way with a 3.56 dig average, which places 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 closes out the 2014 season with a solo match at central coast foe Cal Poly. The Gauchos, on a three-match skid, won the previous showdown against the Mustangs, 3-2, at the Thunderdome on Sept. 27.
Barbeau Has Career Night:
In the five-set match against Hawai’i last week, junior Ali Barbeau blasted a career-high 22 kills. The outside hitter currently paces the Gauchos with a 2.65 kills per set match and a kill total of 249.
Missing The Mark:
Sitting at 7-8 with just a final match at Cal Poly remaining, UC Santa Barbara will not reach the 10-win threshold for the second time in five years. The last time the Gauchos missed that mark was back in 2012 when they tallied a 9-9 Big West record.
Spindt’s Defensive Dominance:
Ali Spindt, an outside hitter turned libero, continues to shine in her new defensive role as she ranks third in the league with a 4.23 digs per set average.
Hawai’i Closes Out Regular Season At Home:
The 25th-ranked Rainbow Wahine carry a three-match win streak into the final week of the regular season where they entertain UC Riverside and UC Davis at the Stan Sheriff Center. Hawai’i was dethroned last week after LBSU captured its 14th conference win to reclaim the conference title UH held the past two seasons, sole possession in 2012 and tri-champion in 2013. The Rainbow Wahine currently sit second in the Big West Conference with an 11-3 mark.
UH Returns To Top 25 Status:
After a strong showing in the central coast where Hawai’i knocked off UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, the Rainbow Wahine find themselves back in the AVA Top 25 poll, claiming the 25th spot.
Taylor Makes History:
In UH’s 3-1 win over Cal Poly last week, Nikki Taylor recorded the program’s first triple-double in the rally scoring era. The 6-3 outside hitter posted 10 kills, 10 digs and a career-high 11 blocks. On the previous night, she pounded 16 kills to go along with a career-high 21 digs to help UH outlast UC Santa Barbara in five sets.