First Serve Slated For Friday
Big West Women's Volleyball Release - Week 1
BIG WEST TID BITS
Big West Opens 2017 Against Top Caliber Opponents: Preseason favorite and defending conference champion No. 20 Hawai’i opens the 2017 season hosting the Texaco Rainbow Wahine Invitational that includes No. 13 UCLA, No. 22 San Diego and Marquette. Also hosting a Top 25 team is Long Beach State, who entertains No. 2 Stanford in its season-opening match Friday, August 25 as part of the LBSU Invitational. The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara are slated to battle No. 15 Florida State on day two of the Hampton Inn & Suites Baylor Invitational.
Flashback To 2016: With a near-perfect 15-1 mark, the University of Hawai’i captured its second straight championship, and fourth out of the five years since rejoining the league. Long Beach State finished second with a 13-3 mark and was followed by the Mustangs of Cal Poly placed third with an 11-5 record. UC Santa Barbara posted an even 8-8 mark to place fourth while CSUN, UC Davis and UC Irvine were knotted in fifth with a 7-9 conference record. UC Riverside (3-13) finished eighth and Cal State Fullerton (1-15) rounded out the nine-team field.
Hawai’i Tabbed To Claim 2017 Title: The University of Hawai’i was selected to capture its third straight Big West Conference women’s volleyball championship, and fifth out of the past six years, after claiming six first-place votes en route to a 78 point total as part of the Big West women’s volleyball preseason coaches poll as voted on by the nine head coaches. Along with a new coach at the helm, Hawai’i will also be without two-time Big West Player of the Year Nikki Taylor and All-Big West First Team selection Annie Mitchem. The Rainbow Wahine will fill the void with All-Big West First Teamers senior middle hitter Emily Maglio, sophomore setter Norene Iosia and senior libero Savanah Kahaki.
The Mustangs of Cal Poly, nabbing two first place votes and 71 total points, earned the second slot in the preseason poll. While losing Two-Time All-Big West First Team selection middle blocker Taylor Gruenewald to graduation, the Mustangs welcome back a core of upper classmen to pave the way, which includes All-Big West First Teamers senior setter Taylor Nelson and senior outside hitter Raeann Greisen. The senior duo will be joined by 2015 Big West Freshman of the Year Adlee Van Winden.
Securing the third place spot with one first place vote and a total of 65 point was Long Beach State. All-Big West First Teamers senior Ashley Murray and sophomore YiZhi Xue will provide leadership at the middle blocker position. The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara sit fourth with 47 points and is followed by UC Irvine after registering 41 points. UC Davis nabbed the sixth slot after collecting 39 points and is followed by CSUN, who holds the seventh spot with 33 points. UC Riverside locked-in the eighth position after grabbing 19 points and Cal State Fullerton rounds out the nine-team field with 10 points.
Rainbow Wahine Open Season Ranked No. 20: Two-time defending Big West Conference champion, Hawai’i is set to start its 2017 campaign ranked No. 20 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Preseason Poll, which was announced today. The Rainbow Wahine, the lone Big West representative in the Top 25, concluded 2016 with a 23-6 record and No. 17 final ranking in Dave Shoji’s 42nd and final season. The Rainbow Wahine begin the 2017 season with a fresh face at the helm of the program as former University of Hawai‘i All-American and assistant coach (2011-15) Robyn Ah Mow-Santos took over the reins in 2017. UH has been ranked in the every preseason coaches poll since 1982. This year’s ranking marks the lowest since 1993 (#22) and only the second time the team has been selected No. 20 or lower in program history.
New Head Coaches: The 2017 women’s volleyball season will be missing two legendary coaches at the helm of their respective programs as Hawai’i’s Dave Shoji and Long Beach State’s Brian Gimmillaro both retired in the offseason. Between the two, there was 74 years of coaching experience as Shoji led the Rainbow Wahine for 42 years and Gimmillaro guided the Beach for 32. To put that into perspective, the combined head coaching experience in the Big West between all nine current women’s volleyball coaches is 28 with CSUN’s Jeff Stork leading the pack with 14 years at the helm.
UC Davis Features Fairly New Coaching Staff: While LBSU and UH showcase new head coaches, UC Davis retained head coach Dan Conners, but features a mostly new staff of assistants to provide a total of 68 years of coaching between the entire Aggeis staff. Bryce Williams , a 2013 UC Davis alumnus, returned to his alma mater after stints at Northwestern, Montana, USA Volleyball and TCU. Nicole Miller owns nearly a full decade of collegiate coaching, mostly recently at Clemson. Add to this mix volunteer assistant Mike Buller and director of operations Amy Buchanan, and suddenly Conners finds himself surrounded by volleyball expertise.
Cal Poly Nabs Top Player In The 11th Hour: One week before the start of the season, the Mustangs added an additional player to the roster with the announcement that sophomore outside hitter Torrey Van Winden, the younger sister of Cal Poly junior Adlee Van Winden, has joined the program as a transfer from UCLA. Van Winden is eligible to compete immediately for Cal Poly and has three years of eligibility remaining. Named to the AVCA All-Pacific South Region and All-Pac-12 Conference First Teams last fall for a UCLA squad that reached the NCAA Championships Minneapolis Regional final, Van Winden finished third in the Bruin lineup with 2.87 kills per set and fourth with 0.65 blocks per set.
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