Big West Action On Tap For Volleyball

Oct. 1, 2009

SERVICE: Two Big West Conference matches are on tap for the Titans (9-5, 0-1) this week as they will play host to Cal Poly (5-10, 1-1) and UC Santa Barbara (11-2, 2-0, with a match at LBSU on Oct. 2) on Friday and Saturday, respectively, in Titan Gym. The Gauchos come into the week as the top vote-getter not in the AVCA Top 25.

Fullerton (9-5, 0-1) suffered a pair of setbacks last week, dropping a road match to San Diego State, 3-2, and a Big West match to No. 25 Long Beach State, 3-0, on Saturday night at home, thus delaying Coach Carolyn Zimmerman's 100th career win for at least another week.

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On Wednesday, down two-sets-to-none and trailing, 24-19 in set three, the Titans put the brakes on an impending SDSU sweep as they outscored the Aztecs 8-1 the rest of the way to stay alive. They continued to dominate in set four, forcing a deciding fifth set. Despite 20 kills from Erin Saddler and 27 combined from Kayla Neto and Alex Wolnisty, the Titans were unable to take control offensively in set five, ending their pre-conference schedule with a 19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-12, 15-12, loss.

In the Big West opener on Saturday, the Titans seemed to hang with the defending league champs for about half of each set before allowing Long Beach to pull away with the 25-21, 25-19, 25-21 win. Fullerton held Long Beach to just a .220 attack percentage as a team, but the duo of Caitlin Ledoux (10 kills) and Naomi Washington (15 kills) proved too strong. Saddler had 13 kills and Cami Croteau led all players with 24 digs. The Titans have now dropped 54 straight matches to Long Beach dating to 1982.

VERSUS CAL POLY: Fullerton is just 3-43 all-time against Cal Poly dating back to 1981 and is currently amidst a 9-match losing streak dating back to 2004. The Titans' last win against the Mustangs came back in Sept. of 2004, when they swept the Mustangs in Titan Gym, 30-21, 30-28, 30-18. Fullerton has beat Cal POly just once in their last 23 meetings.

VERSUS UC SANTA BARBARA: The Gauchos enjoyed 25 years of dominance over the Titans, beating them in all 52 matches they had played from 1980-2006. But on Nov. 4, 2006, the Titans beat the Gauchos in Titan Gym (23-30, 30-25, 30-22, 19-30, 15-1), snapping the winless streak. Since Nov. 4, 2006, the Titans hold a 3-2 advantage over the Gauchos, including a pair of wins in Santa Barbara. The all-time record between the two teams stands at 54-3 (in favor of UCSB).

CONFERENCE ACTION: In 29 previous seasons, the Titans have just ONE winning conference schedule and that was produced by the 2008 squad. The Titans finished in fifth place with a 9-7 record - the most wins in league by and Fullerton volleyball team. Fullerton has never finished higher than fifth place in their conference and have accumulated an 83-391 (.175) all-time record dating back to 1980. LOOKING FOR WIN NO. 100: Eighth-year Head Coach Carolyn Zimmerman will get shot No. 3 at winning her 100th victory Friday night versus Cal Poly. Zimmerman is already the winningest coach in the 30-year Cal State Fullerton volleyball history and has amassed a 99-124 overall record (most in victories) and a .444 winning percentage (also a school record).

QUICK HITS:
&\#149; The program has notched at least 14 wins in each of the last five season, the best stretch in the program's history. The next closest run was from 1995 to 1997 where the Titans posted 12, 16 and 12 wins in three straight years.

&\#149; The Titans have recorded 16-or-more wins just four times in the program's history (1981, 1996, 2006, 2008), 17-or-more twice (1981, 2006), and 18 once (1981).

&\#149; The Titans set a school record by winning its first six matches of the season before dropping their Sept. 7 match to Oregon State. The 1985, 1987, 1996 and 2006 teams all won five matches in a row before losing their first matches.

&\#149; Fullerton is a 6-1 at home in 2009. They are conversely winless in three true road games and 3-1 in neutral affairs.

&\#149; Setter Andrea Ragan posted a career high 5 service aces on Sept. 19 against Fordham including three consecutive strikes within the first 10 points of the match.

&\#149; If the season ended today, the Titans' .209 team attack percentage would rank as the third-best attack percentage in school history.

&\#149; If the Season ended today, the Titans' 13.25 assists per set would rank as the third-best mark in school history.

&\#149; The Titans are averaging 22.5 attack errors per match and committing just under 9 service errors per match through the first 14 contests in 2009.

&\#149; The Titan blocking numbers though the first 13 matches of the year (95 total team blocks) are on pace to be the fewest number of total blocks since 2002 (127.0).

BABY STEPS: When the Titans beat Wisconsin back on Sept. 6 in Oregon, it was probably the biggest upset in the history of the Titan volleyball program. It was a rather quiet win because, though Wisconsin was a Top 10 team in 2008, they were only receiving votes early on in 2009. But it was the highest "ranking" team the Titans had ever beat....until Sept. 18. Last Saturday, the Titans not only snapped a 28-match losing streak to UCLA, but they beat their first ranked opponent in the Bruins, who had come into the week No. 7 in the nation according to the AVCA. Ahead, Fullerton still has some rather hefty opponents including conference foes Long Beach State (No. 22), UC Irvine (No. 24) and UC Santa Barbara (which is the top vote-getter not in the Top 25).

LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Junior Erin Saddler comes into the week leading the Big West Conference by 0.30 kills per set, and had amassed 15 more kills than the second-best hitter in the league (Rebecca Sareceno - UC Santa Barbara). Her 4.71 kills per set coming into the week ranked her 8th in the nation according to the NCAA, and her 5.29 points per set also ranked her 9th nationally. Saddler has accumulated 240 kills (17.14 kills per match) and also has six double-doubles (kills/digs). In the Titans' Sept. 3 match versus Montana, the Bellflower native had a career-high 27 kills, including 12 in the fourth and final set of the Titans' 3-1 victory.

SETTING THEM UP: Sophomore Andrea Ragan dropped from the big West's top spot to No. 2 in assists and ranking 15th in the nation with 587 total assists and 11.51 per set. Dana Vargas of UC Santa Barbara took over the top spot in the league 11.55 per set. Ragan now has 587 assists and 11.51 per set. She also has three double-doubles to her credit.

CROTEAU CHALLENGING DIG RECORD: Junior libero Cami Croteau (Orange, Calif.) has embarked on a mission to break the Cal State Fullerton career dig mark set by her predecessor Vanessa Vella back in 2006. In three years in a Titan uniform, Vella posted 1,598 career digs in 316 career sets. Croteau, in her first two seasons, broke into the 1000-dig club and now, in her third year, sits just 337 digs away from the top spot with 1,261 digs already to her credit. Croteau has collected 502 and 505 digs in her first two seasons, respectively, good for third and fourth all-time in the Titans' single-season record book behind Vella's 581 and 538.

CROTEAU LEADS THE LEAGUE: Libero Cami Croteau came into the week leading the Big West Conference with 254 total digs and 4.98 digs per set. The libero also ranked 24th in the nation with 4.98 digs per set. She is tailing the dig machine from NJIT Sabrina Baby who is scooping 6.77 attack attempts per set to lead the nation.

WOLNISTY CHASES BLOCKING RECORD: Senior Alex Wolnisty (Riverside, Calif.) sits 38 block assists away from tying the Cal State Fullerton block assist mark of 294 block assists set last year by former teammate Brittany Moore. Wolnisty has had as few as 53 block assists her freshman year and as many as 96 as a sophomore and currently has 256 block assists in her career through 14 matches this season. The middle is also just 59 total blocks away from tying the all-time blocking mark set by Stephanie Scofield from 1988-1991. Scofield posted 363 total blocks in her four-year career over 442 sets. Wolnisty currently has 34 total blocks, tying Alyssa Opeka (304 from 2002-05), and still needs to pass Tammy Miller (325, 1986-89), Brittany Moore (360, 2005-08) and Scofield for the record.

WITH ACCURACY: Senior Alex Wolnisty came into the week ranked No. 4 in the Big West Conference with a .350 attack percentage. Last Wednesday (Sept. 23) effort (14-kills, 2 errors, 19 total attempts, .632) helped improve her percentage by nearly 0.30. The senior currently has 107 kills in 223 swings with just 29 errors and is hitting a cool .350 to lead the team. The Riverside native's best total attack percentage came last year when she hit a career-best .291, and is currently hitting .268 in her four-year career, ranking her second all time at Cal State Fullerton.

PRESEASON POLL: The 2009 Cal State Fullerton volleyball team was picked to finished sixth in the Big West according to the nine conference coaches in the annual preseason poll released on July 28. Long Beach State was favored by the conference coaches to successfully defend its 2008 Big West championship with four first place votes and were followed by UC Irvine (3 first place votes) and Cal Poly (2 first place votes) to round out the top three. Pacific (54 pts), UC Santa Barbara (48 pts) Cal State Fullerton (36 pts), Cal State Northridge, 26 pts), UC Davis (16 pts) and UC Riverside (15 pts) round out the rest of the poll.