Big West Women's Volleyball Release - Week 2
Big West on FOX Prime Ticket:
FOX Sports Prime Ticket and the Big West Conference recently unveiled the fall broadcast schedule on Prime Ticket which features a showdown of CSUN and Long Beach State squaring off in the Walter Pyramid. The Saturday, October 17 match begins at 7:00 p.m. The 49ers seek to defend their 2014 championship, accomplished with a unblemished 16-0 record and the 13th overall title in program history. The Matadors regularly have finished among the upper echelon in the Big West standings, including a share of the championship two seasons ago.
Big West In The Top 25:
With an impressive 3-0 mark last week at its own Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational, which included two sweeps, the University of Hawai’i moved up one spot in the AVCA Top 25 poll to sit 17th with 648 points. Penn State, capturing 54 first place votes en route at a 1565 point total, leads the field and is followed by powerhouses Stanford and Texas. Fueled by a five-set victory over then-ranked No. 25 Duke, Long Beach State continues to hold the top spot in the receiving votes category.
Against The Best:
Last week the Big West Conference registered a 1-4 mark against the Top 25, with LBSU recording the lone win over a ranked opponent (No. 25 Duke). This week No. 17 Hawai’i and CSUN are set to battle some of the best in the country with 25th-ranked UCLA headed to the islands and the Matadors visiting No. 16 Arizona.
By The Numbers...
- Hitting percentage of league-leading Hawai’i.
- Big West Conference teams undefeated after the first week of the new season. Hawai’i enters week two with a perfect 3-0 mark, while Cal Poly owns an unblemished 2-0 record.
- The number of freshmen ranked in the conference’s top 10 in digs. UC Santa Barbara’s Emilia Petrachi leads the field with a 4.90 dig average while Cal Poly’s Katherine Broucker sits second with a 4.57 mark. Other diaper dandies excelling on defense are Long Beach State’s Mykah Wilson (4th - 4.46) and UC Davis’ Malia Bolko (6th - 3.92).
- Road contests UC Davis and UC Riverside are slated to play during the 2015 season, the most of all Big West schools.
- Miles the Big West schools are traveling this week for their various tournaments. The extensive number is fueled by three teams making cross-country journeys with Long Beach State traveling the farthest at 6,004 miles round trip with a visit to Boston, Mass., for the Harvard Invitational.
Mustangs Off To Perfect Start:
Cal Poly has opened the season with a pair of wins for the first time since 2010 when the Mustangs finished 22-7 overall. Competing at the San Jose Invitational, the Mustangs downed both San Jose State and Sacramento State by scores of 3-1. Cal Poly looks to keep the momentum going Tuesday when it visits Fresno State before heading to Waco, Texas, for the Hampton Inn Waco North Baylor Invitational. This year’s lineup includes Coppin State, San Houston State and host Baylor.
Sophomore Savannah Niemen and senior Nicole Kessler sit one-two in the Big West Conference in service aces. Niemen is averaging .62 aces per set, while her teammate is knotted in second with a .50 mark.
What A Difference A Year Makes:
As a freshman in 2014, setter Taylor Nelson never averaged double-digit assists. The Granite Bay, Calif., native seems to have found her rhythm in 2015 as she currently leads the conference with a 12.12 assists per set average.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Home Court Woes:
The Titans struggled in their home tournament - LBSU/CSF Baden Invitational - last week, dropping three straight contests. Cal State Fullerton looks to have better success on the road this week when the Titans travel to Albuquerque, N.M., for the Lobo Classic to face SMU, host New Mexico and Santa Clara.
Fresh Faces, Young Guns:
Under first-year head coach Ashley Preston, the Cal State Fullerton coaching staff is one of the youngest in the nation as the three full-time coaches are a combined 89 years old. In addition, volunteer assistant Naseri Tumanuvao preps for his first season at Cal State Fullerton at 28 years of age. Preston comes to CSF after serving as women’s volleyball head coach at Coppin State University for the past three years. In that short time, Preston became the all-time winningest coach in the program’s history. In each of her three years with the Eagles the team advanced to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament and participated in the championship game for the first time in program history in 2013.
Stinson Secures All-Tournament Honors:
Despite going 0-3 in its season-opening tournament at the Utah Classic, senior Cieana Stinson landed a spot on the all-tournament team. The outside hitter notched a match-high 21 kills against Idaho State and wound up averaging 4.82 kills per set in CSUN’s three matches to rank second in the Big West Conference.
The Matadors continue their trek around the western United States with a stop in Tucson, Ariz., for the Arizona Invitational where they are set to battle Florida A&M, South Dakota and host No. 16 Arizona. This marks the second straight week CSUN faces a Top 25 opponent, falling to No. 23 Utah, 3-0, last week.
In the first weekend of her collegiate career, freshman Jess Hess registered a .43 service ace average to sit fourth in the league.
LONG BEACH STATE
LBSU Notches Top 25 Win:
A trio of career-best performances fueled a Long Beach State women’s volleyball team that toppled No. 25 Duke at the 49ers’ season-opening tournament. The 49ers rallied back from a 2-to-1 set deficit to nab their first Top 25 victory since downing conference foe Hawai’i, 3-2, on October 11, 2014. Long Beach State went on to conclude its home event with a 2-1 mark as the 49ers defeated Alabama and suffered a 3-1 loss to Saint Mary’s.
49ers Travel To New England:
The defending Big West champions embark on their first road trip of the season this week as they jet-set across the country for the Harvard Invitational. The 49ers open the two-day event with Illinois State Friday afternoon before playing a doubleheader on Saturday which features Rutgers and Harvard.
The 2014 Big West Freshman of the Year, Ashley Murray, is showing her dominance once again. She currently paces the 49er squad with a .307 hitting percentage, good enough for 10th in the league. The sophomore middle blocker also paces LBSU and is tied for eighth in the Big West with a 1.00 block average.
UCD Unsuccessful In Colorado:
UC Davis stumbled out the gates, going 0-3 at the Rams Volleyball Classic. The Aggies opened the event with a 3-1 loss to Northern Iowa before falling to 12th-ranked Colorado State and Baylor. They look to change things around this week when the Aggies take on Radford, George Washington and Princeton at the George Washington Invitational.
Outside Hitter Kaylin Squyres seems to have continued her offensive dominance from a season ago as she ranks third in the Big West Conference with a 4.42 kills per set average. The Big West First Teamer can also be found tied for second in service aces with a .50 mark.
Junior Kendall Walbrecht and freshman Kelechi Ohiri are currently knotted in third place in the conference with a 1.33 blocks per set average. Last season Walbrecht concluded the year ranked 10th in the Big West with a .86 blocks per set average.
UC Irvine opened 2015 with an impressive 3-1 win over LSU, who was receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 poll. Unfortunately the Anteaters stumbled in the final two matches of the American Campus Classic, falling to third-ranked Texas and Rice. This week they continue their nine-match, season-opening road trip to Moscow, Idaho, for the Idaho Volleyball Classic where they will battle Washington State, host Idaho and Seattle.
Senior Ella Rosenfeld was the shinning star on the team last week, boasting a .444 hitting percentage that places her second in the league. In 45 attempts, the middle blocker tallied 22 kills with just two errors.
Hain At The Helm:
Ashlie Hain, starting setter on UC Irvine’s 2003 and 2004 NCAA Tournament teams, returns to the women’s volleyball program as head coach. She returns to UCI after coaching at American River College. There, she took over a program that had won just three matches and led the Beavers to consecutive Big 8 Conference titles in 2013 and 2014.
UC Riverside concluded its four-match trip to the bay area with a 2- 2 mark. The Highlanders opened the 2015 season with back-to-back wins against Weber State and San Jose State before falling to Rutgers and Santa Clara. Next up for the Highlanders is the PSU/UP Tournament where they will face Grand Canyon, Nevada and Portland.
Leading The Highlanders:
Junior libero Maddie Hubbell continues to show her prowess on defense, owning the league’s third-best dig average of 4.47. Her best performance of the weekend was a 20-dig outing in UC Riverside’s season-opening, 3-1 victory over Weber State.
Out of 29 contests in 2015, only eight will be played on the Highlanders’ home court. All eight contests are Big West Conference matchups, with the first coming on Friday, September 25 against Cal State Fullerton.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Gauchos Carry Winning Record To East Coast:
UC Santa Barbara opened the 2015 season with a 2-1 record at the Pepperdine Asics Classic. The Gauchos downed Utah Valley and Incarnate Word before falling to host Pepperdine. This week the Gauchos travel to New England to battle Rice, Rhode Island and host Yale. The Yale Invitational is the second of four consecutive tournaments the Gauchos are slated to participate in to kick off the new year.
Junior middle blocker Elizabeth Sheffield currently paces the Big West with a .500 hitting percentage, while teammate freshman Emilia Petrachi owns the top spot in the league in digs with a 4.90 average.
In just her third game donning the blue and gold, freshman libero Emilia Petrachi is already dominating on defense. Despite losing 3-1 to Pepperdine, Petrachi’s defense was the shining light as she posted 30 scoops to become the first Gaucho in three years to record 30 digs in a single match.
For the second straight week, the Rainbow Wahine are slated to host a three-day tournament. This weekend they entertain Iowa, American and No. 25 UCLA at the Stan Sheriff Arena as part of the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Invitational. Seventeenth-ranked Hawai’i enters the week with an unblemished 3-0 mark after capturing the 2015 Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational title.
Leading The Pack:
After the first week of play, Hawai’i leads the Big West in hitting percentage (.325), assists (14.30), kills (15.80) and blocks (2.95). Individually, juninor Nikki Taylor tops the charts with a 5.20 kill average and 1.50 block average.
The Rainbow Wahine return 12 players, including five starters. Leading the way is a trio of All-Big West first teamers in outside hitters Nikki Taylor and Tai Manu-Olevao and 2014 AVCA All-America Honorable Mention member Olivia Magill.