Aug. 25, 2011
CAL STATE FULLERTON (0-0): The defending Big West Conference champion Cal State Fullerton Titans volleyball team will kick off its 2011 season in Westchester, Calif., at the Four Points by Sheraton LA Westside Invitational hosted by Loyola Maymount at the Gersten Pavillion.
The tourney will feature the Titans and the Lions as well as the UCLA Bruins and the Quinnipiac Bobcats, with each team getting a shot at each other on Friday and Saturday.
The Titans of a year ago broke nearly every school record in terms of performance with their unprecedented 26-6 finish, winning their first league championship and making an appearance in the postseason for the first time in the history of the program.
Tenth-year Carolyn Zimmerman and the Titans have nine letterwinners returning from last year's squad but they will have their work cut out for them as they will be needing to fill the shoes of 2010's Big West Player of the year Erin Saddler (graduated), three-time all-conference first-team libero Cami Croteau (graduated), and outside hitter Torrie Brown, who will miss the season with a surgically repaired knee injury.
The Titans have six new faces on the roster that include three six-foot hitters and blockers, a setter, and a pair of defensive specialists in the mix.
THIS WEEKEND IN TITAN VOLLEYBALL:
Friday, Aug. 26 at Loyola Marymount, Gersten Pavilion, 7 p.m. / GAMETRACKER
Sat., Aug. 27 vs. No. 11 UCLA, Gersten Pavilion, Noon
Sat., Aug. 27 vs. Quinnipiac, Gersten Pavilion, 5 p.m.
LISTEN IN: You can hear all three of the Titan volleyball matches this weekend live, as they happen, right from your computer and iPhone/Android smart phone. The voice of Titan volleyball, Patrick Alog, is back for another season and you can access his broadcasts by clicking the headphone icon in the upper right hand corner on every page of fullertontitans.com.
FOLLOW: Fans can keep up with the latest in Titans athletics by following us on Facebook (Cal State Fullerton Athletics), Twitter (@CSUFAthletics) and Vimeo.com (vimeo.com/fullertontitans).
VERSUS LMU: The Titans and Lions have a history dating back to 1980 with LMU holding a 6-21 all-time mark against Fullerton. Five of the Titans' six wins against the Lions have come at Titan Gym, with the other coming in their last meeting in Westchester on Nov. 25, 2008 (snapping a 13-match losing streak). The Titans and Lions faced each other last season at the Luxe City Center Trojan Invitational at USC, with the Titans dropping the match (25-22, 25-17, 17-25, 13-25, 20-22) after taking a quick 2-0 lead into the break.
VERSUS UCLA: The Titans had a breakthrough in 2009 against the Bruins, then the No. 7 team in the country, when they upended them 25-23, 15-25, 25-20, 18-25, 16-14, in Titan Gym on Sept. 18, 2009. It snapped a 14-match losing streak dating back to the two teams' first meeting back in 1980. The win against UCLA in 2009 was the first win against a ranked opponent in the school's history. UCLA and CSF did compete in the same Conference (WCAA) from 1980 to 1984, with the Bruins winning all 10 league matches.
VERSUS QUINNIPIAC: This will be the first meeting between the Bobcats and Titans.
SEASON OPENERS: Since 1980, the Titans are 18-13 in season openers. They have won each of their last three matches to open the season dating back to 2008. They lost their 2007 opener to then-No. 24 Santa Clara. Fullerton is 8-3 in season openers dating back to the turn of the century.
VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS: The Titans have beaten nationally ranked opponents just two time in their history, with both wins coming in the last two seasons. The first time the Titans beat a Top 25 team was in 2009 (Sept. 19, 2009) when they defeated No. 7 UCLA in five sets at Titan Gym. Last year, the Titans downed No. 21 San Diego (Sept. 22, 2010) in a three-set sweep in Titan Gym.
PRESEASON COACHES POLL: The defending Big West Conference champion Cal State Fullerton volleyball team was been picked to finish fourth in the conference according to a poll conducted with the nine league coaches. The Titans received 52 of the 81 possible votes and finished behind Long Beach State (78 pts.), Cal Poly (72 pts.) and UC Santa Barbara (53 pts.). The Titans were also picked to finish fourth in 2010 and then proceeded to have the best season in the history of the program going 26-6 overall and 14-2 in the Big West en route to the school's first league title and appearance in the NCAA postseason. The only two losses of the year in conference play came at the hands of the 49ers. Before 2010, the Titans had never finished or been picked to finish higher than fifth place in league. Long Beach and Cal Poly finished two games behind Fullerton in the standings, but tallied seven and two first place votes in the 2011 poll, respectively. Pacific (51 pts.), UC Davis (38 pts.), UC Irvine (30 pts.), Cal State Northridge (20 pts.) and UC Riverside (11 pts.) finished 5th through 9th to round out the preseason poll results.
BEGIN THE COUNTDOWN: Senior Andrea Ragan (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) opens the season just 684 total assists away from being Cal State Fullerton's all-time leader. Ragan, in her fourth season now, has tallied 3,223 total assists in 285 sets and sits in fourth place in the Titan record book behind No. 3 Stephanie Schrieve (3,388, 461 sets), No. 2 Kim Levey (3,621, 389 sets) and all-time assists leader Julie Geissert (3,907, 252 sets). Ragan could set a new school record somewhere around midseason. IN 2009, the Arroyo Grande, Calif. native tallied 1,199 assists (sixth best single-season in CSF history) and 1,295 (thread best single-season totals in CSF history) a year ago.
ACCURACY COUNTS: Junior Kayla Neto has posted back-to-back single-season attack percentages of .319 (2009) and .320 (2010) in he first two years in a Titan uniform, ranking her fourth and third, respectively, in the Titans' single-season record book. Only Katie Crawford (.328 in 2001) and Amanda Phielschiefter (pronounced PHIL-shifter, .322 in 2006) rank above her. Her career .319 mark would by far set a new school record, but she has yet to reach the minimum in total attempts. Currently Alex Wolnisty's .271 career attack percentage leads the way. Wolnisty was a Titan from 2006-09.
THEY'LL BE BACK: The Titans will be on the road the first three weekend of the season and not play in front of the home crowd until Sept. 16/17 against BYU and Utah State. Their entire tournament schedule will be played on the road.They will be playing their first nine games away from Titan Gym for the first time since 2002. That year the Titans played the first 16 matches of the year on the road and didn't get to play their first match at home until October, three matches into conference play.
THE ZIMMERMAN FILE: Head Coach Carolyn Zimmerman enters her 10th season at the helm of the Cal State Fullerton volleyball program. In nine season, she has transformed the Titans - a team that won just five times in her first season in 2002 - into Big West Conference champions and postseason contenders in 2010.
Zimmerman goes into the 2011 season as the winningest coach in Cal State Fullerton history in both number of wins and winning percentage. The head coach has compiled a 134-137 overall record and a .494 winning percentage and is now tied with Mary Ellen Murchison (10 years) for the longest tenure as a Titan volleyball head coach.
Zimmerman, 40, was named the 2010 Big West Coach of the Year and was a CVU.com national coach of the year honorable mention after guiding the Titans - picked to finish fifth in the Big West - to a miraculous 26-6 overall record and a dominant 14-2 league mark. The Cinderella season resulted in the school's first league title and NCAA postseason appearance.
Zimmerman's 2010 Titans lost three times over the first seven matches of the year, then turned things around, winning 16 of their last 18 heading into their NCAA first round game against Colorado State in Palo Alto, Calif.
With the help of Cal State Northridge, the Titans earned their first postseason berth by winning its share of the Big West crown on Nov. 12, 2010. The Titans gave Zimmerman a great 40th birthday present, beating UC Irvine in three straight sets to clinch a share of the league championship in Irvine's Crawford Gym. But moments later, Northridge continued the gift giving, upsetting second place Long Beach State to secure the Titans' first automatic bid to the NCAA postseason.
That win against the Anteaters not only ended Long Beach State's two-year reign as conference champs, but earned the Titans the L.A. Sports Council's Greatest Div. I Sports Moment of 2010, an award Zimmerman accepted at the council's annual gala in Beverly Hills in February, 2011.
For the second straight year, The Titans beat a ranked opponent (No. 21 San Diego on Sept. 22) and eventually broke into the AVCA Top 25 the final two weeks of their season. It was the first time any Titan team had been recognized in a national poll. Fullerton beat its first ranked opponent in 2009, when they beat No. 7 UCLA in five games on Sept. 8, 2009 in Titan Gym.
Under Zimmerman's watch, the Titans have won at least 15 matches a season since 2006, produced their first four winning seasons (2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010) since 1996, celebrated their first winning conference record (9-7) in 2008, and registered their winningest league record (14-2) and set a school benchmark for overall wins (26) in 2010.
In producing the program's best teams over the last decade, she has also mentored the most decorated group of players in the program's history. Her teams have produced a trio of AVCA All-American honorable mentions (Erin Saddler - 2010, Kayla Neto - 2009, Brittany Moore - 2008), a pair of Big West Players of the Year (Saddler - 2010 and Moore - 2008), a Big West Freshman of the Year ( Neto - 2009), 26 All-Big West Conference selections and 16 of Fullerton's 20 Big West Players of the Week honorees.