Volleyball Searches for First Road Win of 2009 This Weekend

Oct. 6, 2009

SERVICE: Titan volleyball looks to continue its recent success that has seen them receive votes in the AVCA national poll as they head out on their first road trip of the Big West Conference schedule. This weekend the Titans travel north to face Pacific and UC Davis with a modest two-match winning streak on the line.

THIS WEEK:
Friday, Oct. 9, 2009 at Pacific, 7 p.m. I GameTracker
Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 at UC Davis, 7 p.m.

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LAST WEEK: The Titans went into last weekend with a measly 6-97 all-time record against their opponents -- Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara -- but walked away with a pair of dominant sweeps in Titan Gym. The Titans snapped their five-year losing streak to the Mustangs on Friday night, and in doing so, handed Coach Carolyn Zimmerman her 100th career victory.

Freshman Kayla Neto had a career-best 15 kills (.600) and did not commit an error to lead the Titans to a dismantling of the Mustangs. The 25-11, 25-14, 25-17 victory was just Fullerton's second in the last 24 meetings with the Mustangs. Erin Saddler (13 kills, 11 digs) and Andrea Ragan (36 assists, 13 digs) each posted double-doubles. The Titans' first set win was their largest margin of victory of the season.

On Saturday, the Titans picked up yet another win over a team recognized by the AVCA. The Gauchos entered last week as the highest vote-getters not in the association's Top 25 but dropped matches to both Long Beach and Fullerton.

Fullerton hit the ball with accuracy Saturday, committing just 11 errors on the attack while hitting.324 as a team, its second highest percentage of the year. Neto paced the offense by hitting .545 on the night with 13 kills. Saddler connected for a match-high 15 kills and Alex Wolnisty added 11 kills. The 25-23, 25-22, 25-21 victory gave Fullerton its fourth win over Santa Barbara in the squads' last six meetings.

NATIONAL RECOGNITION: For the first time in the history of the Cal State Fullerton volleyball program, the Titans have received votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association's Top 25 Poll. Though not in the Top 25, the Titans received 6 votes this week after beating Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara last week to improve to 11-5 overall and 2-1 in Big West Conference action. The Titans are one of four Big West teams on this week's Top 25 Poll/Receiving Votes listing (No. 20 Long Beach State, No. 23 UC Irvine, and UC Santa Barbara - receiving votes). The Titans are 3-2 in matches against opponents that have been recognized by the AVCA this year. Fullerton beat UCSB and Wisconsin (both receiving votes), and then-No. 7 UCLA, while dropping matches to Baylor and then No. 25 Long Beach State.

NETO NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Freshman middle blocker/outside hitter Kayla Neto was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week after posting 28 kills in two conference victories last week. Neto committed just one error from the floor in 57 swings, good for a .574 attack percentage on the weekend. On Friday night, the 6-foot-2 Titan scored a career-best 15 kills without an error (.600) and also posted a pair of blocks as the Titans swept Cal Poly, beating them for the first time since 2004 and just the second time in their last 24 meetings. On Saturday, Neto committed just one error and collected 13 kills and a pair of blocks in the sweep of the Gauchos. Neto is the Titans' second best hitter behind Saddler in total kills (138) and behind Alex Wolnisty in attack percentage (.288). She is the team's leading blocker with 51 total blocks and a 0.89 block per set average. This is Neto's first player of the week nod and the second of the year for Cal State Fullerton (Erin Saddler). She is only the 14th Titan volleyballer to ever win the weekly accolade.

VERSUS PACIFIC: Cal State Fullerton has beaten Pacific just six times since 1984, posting a 7-43 record against the Tigers all-time. Last year, the Titans swept the season series, but the four years prior, Pacific and Fullerton had split the eight matches. Last year's Nov. 15 win secured the Titans' first-ever winning conference schedule, and their school record-setting ninth conference win of the year.

VERSUS UC DAVIS: The Titans are 6-3 against the Aggies dating back to the 2004 season when the teams met for the first time. Last year, the Titans and Aggies split the season series with each team winning on the road. This is UC Davis' third season in the Big West Conference. Fullerton has won three of the four meetings in Big West Conference play.

100 IN THE BOOKS: Eighth Year Head Coach Carolyn Zimmerman reached the century mark in career victories last Friday night (Oct. 2) when the Titans swept the Cal Poly Mustangs for their first Big West Conference win of the year. It only took her three shots to get No. 100, but she got it and win No. 101 as the Titans went on to also beat UC Santa Barbara the next night. Zimmerman is already the winningest coach in Cal State Fullerton volleyball history and has amassed a 101-124 overall record (most in victories) and a .449 winning percentage (also a school record).

QUICK HITS:
&\#149; With their win over Cal Poly on Oct. 2, the Titans have now one 10-or-more games in each of the last six seasons. &\#149; The program has notched at least 14 wins in each of the last five season, the best stretch in terms of victories 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 early this year 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 8-1 at home in 2009 and 3-1 in matches at neutral sites. Conversely, the Titans are winless in three true road games (New Mexico, Oregon State and San Diego State).

&\#149;The Titans are 10th in the nation in assists per set with 13.3 assists per set as a team. Iowa State leads the nation with 14.2 assists per frame.

&\#149;Fullerton ranks 25th in the nation in kills per set. Its 13.95 kills per set is ultimately trailing Iowa State's 15.0 kills per set national lead.

&\#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' .220 team attack percentage would rank as the second-best attack percentage in school history, just .003 off the top spot.

&\#149; If the Season ended today, the Titans' 13.30 assists per set would rank as the third-best mark in school history.

&\#149; The Titans are averaging nearly 21 attack errors per match and committing 8 service errors per match through 16 contests in 2009. They committed as many as 33 attack errors and as many as 17 service errors in a match.

&\#149; The Titan blocking numbers though the first 16 matches of the year (107.0 total team blocks) are on pace to be the fewest number of total blocks since 2002 (127.0).

A SMALL STEP AND A GIANT LEAP: 2009 has been the year for key wins for the Fullerton volleyball program. Wins over UC Santa Barbara (receiving votes - On Oct. 3), Wisconsin (receiving votes on Sept. 6) and UCLA (No. 7 on Sept. 18) have gotten the Titan program noticed as this week they are receiving votes in the AVCA poll for the first time ever. The Titans are 3-2 against teams either ranked or mentioned by the AVCA, but they still have a few roadblocks in the way as far as the season goes. The Titans still have a game with No. 20 Long Beach State, two with No. 23 UC Irvine, another with UC Santa Barbara (receiving votes) still on their conference schedule. Here are the big wins for Fullerton in 2009:

1. Sept. 6 vs. Wisconcin: The Badgers were a Top 10 team in 2008 when they beat up on the Titans in three straight games... but Fullerton came back and avenged last year's loss with a sweep of their own in Corvallis in early September. Wisconsin was not ranked at that point, but they were receiving votes. It was the highest "ranking" team the Titans had ever beaten to date.

2. Sept. 18 vs. No. 7 UCLA: The Titans played amazing defense against the Top 10 Bruin squad keeping them in the match and giving them the opportunity to bring down the mighty Bruins. It was not only the Titans' first win over a ranked opponent, but their first win over UCLA in the program's history (28 matches total, 14 since 1980).

3. Oct. 2 vs. Cal Poly: The Titans have not fared well with Cal Poly over the years, going just 4-43 all-time against them dating back to 1980. In fact, the Titans had lost 22 of their last 23 meetings with their last win coming back in 2004. The win on Oct. 3, not only snapped the five-year winless streak, but also handed the Titans their head coach her 100th career victory.

4. Oct. 3 vs. UC Santa Barbara: The Gauchos have enjoyed dominance over the Titans since 1980. In fact, the Titans were 0-52 against the Gauchos until their first win in 2006. This year, the Gauchos were receiving votes, just shy of Top 25 status, coming into Titan Gym, where they were stopped in their tracks by the Titans in the three-set sweep. The Titans have now won four of the last six meetings with UCSB and are now 4-54 all-time.

BRIEFLY: The 2009 Titans return 13 letter winners and six starters (5+libero) from last year's team that posted a 17-15 overall record and their first conference winning record in school history at 9-7. Fullerton finished the 2008 campaign with a 9-7 conference record (5th place), setting a school record for the most conference wins in a season, as well as posting its first-ever winning record in league play. The Titans are also coming off of their fifth consecutive season with 14-or-more victories and matched their second-best win totals with a 17-15 overall record in 2008.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Junior Erin Saddler comes into the week leading the Big West Conference by 0.33 kills per set, and had amassed 10 more kills than the second-best hitter in the league (Rebecca Saraceno - UC Santa Barbara). Her 4.70 kills per set coming into the week ranked her 7th in the nation according to the NCAA, and her 5.35 points per set also ranked her 7th nationally. Saddler has accumulated 268 kills (16.75 kills per match) and also has seven 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. The junior also ranks 7th in the Big West in service aces hitting 19 total strikes (0.33 per set) trailing the league leader, Mallori Gibson (Pacific) by six aces.

SETTING THEM UP: Sophomore Andrea Ragan is back on top of the Big West Conference standings and ranking 11th in the nation with 11.56 assists per set. After a brief bump to the No. 2 slot last week, the leading setter now has amassed 659 total assists and has four double-doubles (assists/digs) 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 306 digs away from the top spot with 1,292 career 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 and ranking 24th in the nation with 5.00 digs per set and 285 total digs. She is tailing the dig machine from NJIT Sabrina Baby who is scooping 6.58 attack attempts per set to lead the nation.

WOLNISTY CHASES BLOCKING RECORD: Senior Alex Wolnisty (Riverside, Calif.) sits 35 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 259 block assists in her career through 16 matches this season. The middle is also just 54 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 309 total blocks, 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 comes into the week ranked No. 4 in the Big West Conference with a .343 attack percentage. The senior currently has 128 kills in 271 swings with just 35 errors and is hitting a cool .343 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. Coming on strong as of late is Freshman Kayla Neto who jumps in to the Big West's Top 10 at No. 10 with a .288 attack percentage. The rookie hit a cool .574 last week against Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara scoring 28 kills with just one error. Neto is the reigning Big West Player of the Week.