Trio Battles Top 25 In Final Nonconference Weekend
Big West Women's Volleyball Release - Week 4
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Trio Closes Nonconference Play At Home: Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State and UC Irvine close out the nonconference portion of their schedules hosting tournaments. Headed to Titan Gym are San Francisco and Idaho, along with Big West foe UC Riverside, who will face the same two opponents in the Titan Calssic.
Once again Long Beach State and UC Irvine have joined forces for the LBSU/UCI Invitational. The Anteaters face Fresno State in Long Beach on Friday, Sept. 14 before hosting Southern Utah the following day, while The Beach battle (9/14) and Fresno State (9/15) at The Pyramid.
Trio Battles Top 25: This week Long Beach State, Hawai’i and CSUN are set to take on top caliber opponents. Thursday night The Beach host No. 16 UCLA at the Pyramid, while Hawai’i entertains No. 12 Oregon both Thursday and Friday. CSUN opens the Boise State Classic against No. 13 Washington Friday at 8:30 a.m.
Cal Poly Opens Home Portion Of Schedule With a Bang: Last week Cal Poly took a pair of matches against then-ranked No. 9 UCLA to open the home portion of its schedule. The Mustangs, riding a six-match win streak, won both contests by a score of 3-1. Thursday’s contest marked the first time the Mustangs beat UCLA since 1985 when that team took down the Bruins 3-1 on the road. When you add Friday’s victory, Cal Poly has only beat UCLA three times. Last week’s upset gave the Mustangs its first win over a top-10 team since 2007 when they beat No. 9 BYU 3-1.
Kirst Posts Career-High Marks: In Long Beach State’s 3-2 victory over Princeton at the Towson Invitational, senior Emma Kirst posted a career-high 10 blocks (1 solo, 9 assists). Kirst currently sits second in the Big West in total blocks with 39. Teammate Yizhi Xue paces the conference with a total of 41.
Ruddins Explodes In Home Opener: Lindsey Ruddins posted a season-best performance in UCSB’s 3-1 win over Texas Tech with 33 kills, 16 digs, four blocks and three aces. Crossing the 30-kill threshold for the third time in her career, Ruddins (8.5 K/S) tied Janine Sandell (Sept. 2, 2005 vs. Missouri State) for the second-most kills in UCSB’s rally scoring history. The Gauchos enter the week riding a four-match win streak.
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.