Fullerton, Calif. - The Cal State Fullerton volleyball team will kick off the 2012 season this Friday and Saturday in Atlanta at the Georgia Tech Courtyard Invitational that will pit them against the hosting Yellow Jackets, Southern Methodist (from University Park, Texas) and Charleston Southern.
Fullerton is looking to get back to its winning ways after posting five consecutive .500-or-better season before last year's 13-16 finish. Seniors will look to take charge this year with Kayla Neto (OH, Clarksburg, Calif.) and Torrie Brown (OH, Diamond Bar, Calif.) guiding the Titans offensively and Gabrielle Dewberry (DS, Centennial, Colo.) solidifying the defensive side and passing game in the back court as she did last season. [Pictured right is Torrie Brown. Photo by Matt Brown – no relation.]
Head Coach Carolyn Zimmerman with a decade and 300 matches under her belt as the head coach of the Titans heads into her 11th season with a career mark of 147-153 (.490), by far the best record in school history.
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THIS WEEKEND IN TITAN VOLLEYBALL:
at the Georgia Tech Courtyard Invitational (Atlanta, Ga.)
Fri., Aug. 24 at Georgia Tech (4 p.m. PT), O'Keefe Gymnasium
Sat., Aug. 25 vs. Southern Methodist Tech (9 a.m. PT), O'Keefe Gymnasium
Sat., Aug. 25 at Charleston Southern (1:30 p.m. PT), O'Keefe Gymnasium
FOLLOW THE MATCHES: All of the games at this weekend's Georgia Tech Courtyard Invitational will be available on the CBS College Sports GameTracker platform at ramblinwreck.com. Fans can also watch a video stream of Friday afternoon's game against Georgia Tech with an All-Access subscription at ramblinwreck.com.
VS. GEORGIA TECH: The Titans and the Yellow Jackets have played just once, back in 1997 at Titan Gym. In that match on Sept, 2, 1997, Georgia Tech needed all five games to take care of the Titans, 15-11, 10-15, 11-15, 15-11, 15-13. Georgia Tech is coached by Tony Johnson and is in in her fourth season. The Yellow Jackets were picked by the ACC coaches to finish sixth in their conference.
VS. SMU: The Titans and Mustangs met once back in 2005 at Fullerton's Hawthorn Suites Titan Classic in Titan Gym. In that meeting, the Titans won the match in four sets, 22-30, 30-21, 30-26, 30-28. Southern Methodist is coached by 17th-year Head Coach Lisa Seifert. The Mustangs were picked to finish sixth in Conference USA's preseason coaches poll.
VS. CHARLESTON SOUTHERN: This weekend's meeting with the Buccaneers will be the first meeting between the two universities. Charleston Southern is coached by Al Givens, who is in his first year with the program. The Buccaneers were voted to finish 10th in the 10-team Big South Conference by the coaches in the league's preseason coaches poll.
SEASON OPENERS: Since 1980, the Titans are 18-14 in season openers. Their four-set loss to Loyola Marymount to kick off the 2011 season snapped a thre-year, season-opening winning streak back to 2008. Fullerton is 8-4 in season openers dating back to the turn of the century.
THE 2012 SQUAD: The 16-woman squad consists of 11 returners and five newcomers and breaks down into four freshman, four sophomores, three juniors and five seniors. Senior Torrie Brown will be playing her fifth and final Div. I season after sitting out last year with a knee injury.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND: The Titans have a couple of Georgia connections on the roster. Junior Leah Best is from Marietta, Ga., a town about 20 miles (30 minutes by car) north Georgia Tech's Atlanta-based campus. Senior Torrie Brown also has Southern ties, having spent her freshman year at Georgia State in Atlanta. Georgia State is just four miles south of Georgia Tech (10 minutes by car) in the I-75 / I-85.
NEAT-O: Senior outside hitter Kayla Neto looks to become the Titans' first four-time All-Big West Conference first team player in 2012. Only seven players in the history of the Big West have accomplished the feat. Neto was a Big West first-teamer, a Big West and AVCA All-Region Freshman of the Year and AVCA All-American honorable mention in 2009 before following that up with two more first team selections in 2010 and 2011. Se is currently tied with former outside hitter Brittany Moore (2006-08) and former libero Cami Croteau (2008-10) for the most first team selections in Fullerton history.
TABLE SETTING: For the first time in recent history of the Titan program the setting position is wide open for the taking. Former setter Andrea Ragan finished her four-year Titan career in 2011 as the all-time assist leader at Cal State Fullerton. To fill that void, look for sophomore Julie Consani to take the lead in 2012. She ran the offense all spring and is the only returner with any Div. I game experience (15 matches, 23 sets, 13 assists). The Titans also brought in an experienced Div. II transfer in Kaylynne Taeatafa (Cal State LA) who is acclimating to the Titan system nicely.
VOLLEYBALL PICKED 6TH: The Titans were picked to finish sixth in the 10-team Big West Conference by the coaches in the league's annual preseason poll released on Aug. 9. The Titans (13-16, 8-8 in 2011) received 46 of the 100 possible points. They finished in a tie for fourth place last season, the second highest finish in the history of the program. The University of Hawaii comes back to the Big West for the first time since 1995 with authority. The Rainbow Wahine were not only the overwelming pick to take home the Big West crown, but they begin the season ranked in the AVCA's Top 10. Hawaii is followed by Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge, UC Santa Barbara, Pacific, Fullerton, Cal Poly, UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC Riverside.