Tournament Action Continues For Women's Volleyball
Big West Women's Volleyball Release - Week 3
A Look At The Big West Standings: After two weeks into the new year, Cal Poly and Hawai’i are knotted in the top spot of the Big West standings with a 5-1 record. Defending Big West champion Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara are tied for third at 4-2 while UC Irvine owns the fifth slot with a 3-3 mark.
In The Ranks: The University of Hawai’i moved up one spot to 17th in this week's AVCA Top 25 poll. Long Beach State continues to be recognized in the others receiving votes category.
Against The Best: The Big West has struggled against the Top 25 in the first two weeks of play, tallying a 1-5 mark. The league’s lone win was Long Beach State’s 3-2 victory over No. 25 Duke.
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 On ESPN3: The Big West Conference announced that 11 women’s volleyball matches will be distributed on ESPN3 this fall, beginning on September 25.
Fri., September 25 - UC Davis at Long Beach State
Sat., September 26 - UC Irvine at Long Beach State
Fri., October 2 - Hawai’i at Cal State Fullerton
Sat., October 3 - Hawai‘i at UC Riverside
Fri., October 23 - Cal Poly at CSUN
Sat., October 24 - UC Santa Barbara at CSUN
Fri., November 6 - Hawai‘i at Long Beach State
Fri., November 13 - UC Santa Barbara at Cal St. Fullerton
Sat., November 14 - Cal Poly at Cal State Fullerton
Tues., November 17 - Hawai’i at UC Irvine
Sat., November 21 - UC Davis at UC Irvine
By The Numbers...
5 - Ranked opponents the Big West Conference schools face this week - No. 2 Florida, No. 5 Nebraska, No. 8 Washington, No. 17 UCLA and No. 18 San Diego.
5.00 - Kills per set average Rainbow Wahine Nikki Taylor owns to pace the league.
15 - Victories the nine Big West Conference schools combined for last week.
16.50 - UC Riverside’s league-leading digs per set average. Leading the charge is junior Maddie Hubbell with a conference-best 4.88 mark.
41,161 - The number of fans who have walked through the turnstiles at Hawai’i’s home court - Stan Sheriff Center - this season. That is an average of 6,860 guests per contest.
Best Outing In Nearly A Decade: Cal Poly has opened the 2015 season with the program’s first 5-0 start since 2006, when the Mustangs finished 23-6 and claimed the Big West Conference title with a 13-1 mark. Unfortunately the unbeaten streak ended at five as the Mustangs fell to the Baylor Bears, 3-1, to fall to 5-1 on the season.
Crippling Opponents: Part of Cal Poly’s success is the fact they are limiting their opponents to a Big West-leading .153 hitting percentage, while hitting .251. Quarterbacking the team is setter Tayler Nelson, who is averaging 11.00 assists per set to rank second in the league.
Blink Of An Eye: Last week, the Mustangs took care of business against Coppin State in 58 minutes to open the Hampton Inn Waco North Baylor Invitational. They downed the Bald Eagles by scores of 25-5, 25-11 and 25-11 for their first sweep of the season.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
In Search Of A ‘W’: Under the helm of first-year head coach Ashley Preston, the Cal State Fullerton Titans are still searching for their first victory of the season after going 0-6 in the first two weeks of play. The Titans look to turn things around this weekend at the Fresno State Invitational where they are slated to take on Central Michigan, Fresno State and Sacramento State.
Freshman Leadership: Freshman outside hitter Kyra Smith is leading the Titans with a .197 hitting percentage while averaging .79 blocks per set. Smith isn’t the only Titan excelling in her first season donning the orange and blue. Middle blocker Summer Kerins owns a .191 hitting percentage while scoring a team-best 2.4 points per set.
Diaper Dandies On The Bench: 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.
Matadors Collect First Win: CSUN notched its first win of the season last week with a 3-1 victory over Florida A&M to kick off the Arizona Invitational. The Matadors weren’t as successful in their final two matches of the tournament, dropping to 1-5 on the season.
Stinson Eyes Career Mark: Senior Cieana Stinson is inching closer to the 1,000-kill milestone. Sitting at 923 career kills, Stinson needs 77 additional kills to become the 12th player in Matador history to reach the career milestone. Both Casey Hinger and Natalie Allen reached 1,000 kills in 2014 with Mahina Haina accomplishing the feat in 2013.
Road Warriors: The Matadors continue their 12-match, season-opening road trip this week with a trip to Seattle, Wash., for the Washington Tournament. CSUN opens against Saint Mary’s Thursday afternoon before facing the Huskies twice, once on Thursday and again on Friday.
LONG BEACH STATE
Mirror Image: Long Beach State posted a 2-1 record in its second straight tournament for an overall mark of 4-2. This week the 49ers, who are receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 poll, return to the Walter Pyramid for the LBSU/LMU Tournament they are co-hosting with Loyola Marymount. LBSU faces LMU Thursday in Los Angeles before hosting Oakland, Stony Brook and Central Arkansas over the weekend.
Murray Fireworks Display: Sophomore middle blocker Ashley Murray hit an explosive .737 in Long Beach State’s win over Harvard, tallying 14 kills with no errors. She is hitting .415 on the season to sit third in the Big West.
Gimmillaro Approaches New Milestone: Head Coach Brian Gimmillaro is just seven wins away from claiming his 800th career Division I win. Gimmillaro, currently in his 31st season, would become just the sixth active coach to reach that total all within Division I, and fourth to record each win at the same institution.
Aggies Earn Pair Of Victories: UC Davis collected its first two wins of the season last week at the George Washington Invitational, sweeping both Radford and Princeton. The Aggies fell to host George Washington and now own an overall mark of 2-4.
Block Party: A trio of Aggies are can be found among the top 10 in the Big West in blocks. Leading the charge is Aima Eichie with a league-leading 1.54 blocks per set average. Teammate Kelechi Ohiri sits third at 1.39 and Kendall Walbrecht owns the sixth-best average of 1.17. As a team, UC Davis ranks second in the Big West with a 3.00 mark.
Blocking Duo: UC Davis concludes its 10-match, season-opening road trip in Nebraska as the Aggies face Nebraska-Omaha on Wednesday before competing in the Ameritas Players Challenge in Lincoln, Neb. The Aggies are scheduled to battle host and fifth-ranked Nebraska, Georgia Tech and South Florida in the two-day event. The Cornhuskers contest will mark the second ranked opponent the Aggies have faced this season, falling to Colorado State (3-0) on August 29.
Up Next: UC Irvine wraps up a nine-match road trip with its third consecutive tournament, the Diet Coke Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. The Anteaters are set to tackle Minnesota, who is receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 poll, UCF and North Dakota State.
Senior Star: In UC Irvine’s 3-2 victory over Idaho, senior Ella Rosenfeld notched a career-high 15 kills and a match-best .538 hitting percentage. The Idaho Volleyball Classic All-Tournament Team member sits atop the Big West standings in hitting percentage with a .473 clip.
Hain At The Helm: Ashlie Hain, starting setter on UC Irvine’s 2003 and 2004 NCAA Tournament teams, returned to the women’s volleyball program as head coach this season. She returned 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.
Off To A Great Start: The UC Riverside Highlanders posted a 1-2 mark at the PSU/UP Tournament and currently own a 3-4 overall mark. The three victories are the most by a Highlanders’ team since 2012 when UC Riverside finished the season 8-24. The previous two seasons UCR only tallied two victories.
Up Next: UC Riverside continues its season-opening, 13-match road trip with a trip to central California for the Fresno State Invitational. The Highlanders are slated to open with the Bulldogs Friday morning and follow that up with an evening showdown against Sacramento State. On Saturday UCR tackles Central Michigan.
Untouchable: Freshman Alexis Urbach has been impressive behind the service line so far this season, tallying a .36 service ace average to sit fifth in the Big West.
Homesick: 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’ Loaded Home Opener: For the second straight week UC Santa Barbara posted a 2-1 record. The Gauchos hope their winning ways continue this week as they open the home portion of their schedule with a loaded schedule. Day one of the UCSB Tournament pits the Gauchos against SMU before facing No. 17 UCLA and No. 18 San Diego on Saturday. UC Santa Barbara’s last win against a ranked opponent was Nov. 16, 2013, when it downed Big West foe No. 21 CSUN, 3-2.
Barbeau Sets New Standard: In UC Santa Barbara’s 3-1 win over Yale, Ali Barbeau paced the Gauchos with 15 kills and 18 digs, which set a career high for the senior. Barbeau currently ranks sixth in the conference with a 3.52 kills average.
All-Around Player: Junior Elizabeth Sheffield is dominating on all aspects of the game as she ranks in the Big West in three different categories. She owns the second slot in hitting percentage (.432), third in service aces (.39) and eighth in blocks (1.00).
Tournament Central: After a 5-0 start to the season, No. 17 Hawai’i stumbled in its final contest of the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic, falling to No. 25 UCLA, 3-1. The Rainbow Wahine continue their 13-match, season-opening homestand this weekend with the Outrigger Resorts Classic where they battle San Diego State, Eastern Washington and second-ranked Florida.
Leading The Pack: Hawai’i continues to lead the Big West in hitting percentage (.266), assists (13.52), kills (14.86) and blocks (3.12). Individually, junior Nikki Taylor tops the charts with a 5.00 kill average and Tayler Higgins holds the top spot in assists with an 11.05 mark.
Career Best Outing For Manu-Olevao: In Saturday’s 3-0 win over American, Tai Manu-Olevao came off the bench to spark UH’s offense, recording a career-high .727 hitting percentage. The senior outside hitter recorded eight hits on 11 attempts with no errors.