UCI, CSUN Host Weekend Tournaments
Big West Volleyball Release - Week 2
UCI, CSUN Host Weekend Tournaments: This weekend UC Irvine (1-2) and CSUN (1-2) open the home portion of their schedules hosting multi-team, weekend tournaments. The Anteaters welcome CSU Bakersfield, Georgia and Texas Tech for the UCI adidas Invitational Friday, August 31 and Saturday, September 1.
The Matadors are pairing up with Pepperdine for the CSUN/Pepperdine Challenge. The Matadors entertain North Texas (8/31) and Idaho (9/1) at the Matadome before visiting Pepperdine on Sunday.
LBSU Takes On Ranked Ducks: Long Beach State (1-2) is headed north to Eugene, Ore., for the Oregon Classic where The Beach are slated to battle Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Utah Valley and host and 18th-ranked Oregon. Prior to their trip to Northwest, The Beach are set to host Seattle Tuesday at 7 pm.
Diaper Dandy: Abby Marjama made her presence felt in her first week donning the blue and yellow as the freshman tied the UC Irvine match record for aces in the Anteaters’ 3-1 victory over Saint Mary’s in the finale of the Utah Volleyball Classic at the Huntsman Center. Marjama fired nine aces to match Tandie Wade’s mark set against Nevada in 1996.
Bolko’s Dig-tatsic Start To the 2018 Season: Senior libero Malia Bolko scooped up a career-high 37 digs in the final game of Aggie Invitational where UC Davis fell to Northern Arizona, 3-1. A member of the all-tournament team, Bolko averaged 6.62 digs per set last weekend to pace the Big West and guided the Aggies to a 3-1 opening weekend record. Bolko’s previous match high was 31, done against Cal State Fullerton in each of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Bolko’s efforts for the weekend bumped her to second on the school’s all-time dig career leaderboard with 1,500 career digs.
UC Irvine’s Double Threat: Junior middle blocker Makayla Wolfe currently paces the Big West with a 1.50 block average, while also ranking second in hitting percentage with a .419 clip. As a team, UC Irvine sits atop the league with a 2.54 blocks per set average.
Cal Poly Picked To Repeat As Big West Champion: After capturing its first Big West title in 10 years, Cal Poly has been selected to repeat as the Big West Conference women’s volleyball champion after claiming five first-place votes en route to a 77 point total, as voted on by the nine head coaches. The University of Hawai’i secured the remaining four first-place votes to lock down the second spot with 75 points. UC Irvine followed in the third slot with 62 points, while Long Beach State registered 48 points to rank fourth and UC Santa Barbara was close behind in fifth place with 45 points. The Aggies of UC Davis nabbed 38 points for the sixth spot and was followed by CSUN (30), UC Riverside (18) and Cal State Fullerton (12).
The Mustangs are coming off a year where they posted the program’s best overall record of 27-3, a perfect 16-0 Big West Conference mark and an undefeated home record for the first time since 2007. Led by 2017 AVCA Pacific North Coach of the Year Sam Crosson, Cal Poly broke the AVCA Top 25 and posted its first NCAA Tournament win since 2007. As a team, the Mustangs concluded 2017 ranked in the nation’s Top 10 in kills per set (2nd - 15.07), assists (4th - 14.06), win/loss percentage (5th - .900) and hitting percentage (7th - .310).
They return four players who earned Big West postseason awards this past season in seniors Adlee Van Winden and Katherine Brouker, junior Torrey Van Winden and sophomore Madilyn Mercer. There are six new additions to the team, five true freshmen and one transfer from Duke, who will all be competing for playing time.
In head coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos’ rookie season at the helm of the Rainbow Wahine women’s volleyball program, she led them to a 20-8 overall record and a 14-2 conference mark which advanced them to their 36th NCAA Tournament appearance. Hawai’i is on a quest to capture its fifth conference title in seven years and will rely on 2018 All-Big West First Teamers outside hitter McKenna Granato and setter Norene Iosia to lead the way.
Securing the third spot is UC Irvine, who finished third in the Big West a season ago with a 10-6 league mark and a 24-8 overall record, which tied the school record for wins, matching the 2009 squad that went 24-10. The Anteaters advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship, falling to Texas Tech, 3-1. It was the first postseason appearance since 2004. The Anteaters welcome back 2018 All-Big West First Team members middle blocker Idara Akpakpa, outside hitter Haley DeSales and opposite.
Gauchos Awarded AVCA Team Academic Award for Fourth Straight Year: Over the summer, UC Santa Barbara earned an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award for the fourth consecutive year. Since the first time they received the honor in 2014-15, the Gauchos have remained the only Division I program from either the Big West or the UC school system to be named an AVCA Team Academic Award recipient. The prestigious award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale.
Celebrating 50/35: The 2018-19 season marks the 50th anniversary for men’s sports in the Big West Conference, and the 35th for women’s. All season long the Big West Conference will celebrate the history of all 16 conference-sponsored sports.
Did You Know?
• Volleyball was added as a sponsored sport in 1984, one year after the conference expanded to women’s sports. Teams participating in women’s volleyball at that time consisted of Cal Poly, Pacific, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UNLV.
• The Cal Poly Mustangs, under the helm of head coach Mike Wilton, captured the first Big West Conference women’s volleyball championship back in 1984 with a 7-1 conference mark. At that time, the league was known as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA). One member of the 1984 championship squad was Kelly Strand, the mother of current Mustang players Torrey and Adlee Van Winden, who captured the 2017 Big West title.