Volleyball Looks to Clinch First BWC Title and Postseason Berth
Nov. 17, 2010
Fullerton, Calif. - Two crucial Big West Conference matches are on tap for volleyball this week. If the Titans win both matches with UC Irvine (7-20, 3-11) and Cal State Northridge (12-17, 4-9), they will be crowned the outright league champions and win the NCAA postseason berth for the very first time in program history. One victory will give them at least a share of the title as they hold slim 1-game lead over Long Beach State with two to play.
The Titans are riding their second seven-match winning streak of the season, and with another victory on Friday, will set a new school record for consecutive matches won.
Last weekend, the Titans swept through UC Irvine and UC Riverside at home finishing up their home schedule at a school record 16-1.
A shaky Titan squad still swept through the Anteaters, defeating them 25-9, 25-22, 25-19 on Friday night. Erin Saddler posted a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs while Torrie Brown matched Saddler from the air with 11 kills of her own.
Saddler led all players in the kills department, while Croteau and Francisco finished 1 and 2 in digs on the night. Croteau had a match-high 20 digs while Francisco scooped up 12. Croteau is now just 20 digs shy of the Big West Conference career record and now sits at 2,112 digs in her career.
The Titans are winners in 20 of their last 22 matches and have swept their opponents in 20 of their 24 victories this season.
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TITANS MAKING A DIFFERENCE: The Cal State Fullerton women's volleyball team spent a Sunday on Oct. 10, teaching volleyball to youngsters participating at the OC Parks Sports Day at Craig Regional Park in Fullerton. Go check out the video of Head Coach Carolyn Zimmerman and defensive specialist Genie Francisco as they talk from the event. (http://vimeo.com/15722052)
VERSUS UC IRVINE: The Titans are 23-39 all-time against the Anteaters dating back to 1980. The Titans' 3-0 sweep of the Anteaters last weekend snapped a three match losing streak to the Anteaters that included a 2009 season series sweep.
VERSUS CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE: The Titans are 10-21 all-time against the Matadors dating back to their first meeting in 1980 and swept them at home on Oct. 14 behind 17 kills from Erin Saddler. Fullerton and Northridge split last year's series with each winning on the other's court. Fullerton is just 6-12 against Northridge under Carolyn Zimmerman.
RPI: By playing the likes of UC Irvine and UC Riverside (bottom two teams in the Big West), the Titans fell four spots to No. 28 in the NCAA's latest RPI report. The Titans hit their high point last week coming in at No. 24, the highest in school history. Fullerton joins Stanford (3), USC (7), Hawaii (10), Cal (8) and Long Beach State (25) as western representatives in the Top 30. The next closest Big West Conference school in the RPI is Cal Poly at No. 56.
THE AVCA COACHES POLL: The Titans recorded a school record number of votes in this week's AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll released Nov. 15. The Titans, with 55 votes, sits just outside the Top 25 behind Long Beach State (66 votes) and Oklahoma (58 votes). It is the sixth time this season and fifth consecutive week the Titans have been recognized. The Titans fist made an appearance in the receiving votes section last season but fell out after just one week.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Titans finished an astounding 16-1 at home setting a new school record for wins in a season in Titan Gym. To put in perspective, the Titans had won only 16 games just five times in any WHOLE season. Overall, the Titans are 16-1 at home, 6-2 on the road and 2-2 in neutral arenas.
SETTING UP WHAT THEY'RE LAYING DOWN: Junior setter Andrea Ragan sits atop the Big West Conference and is 10th in the nation in assists per game, supplying 11.78 of them every set. Her 3,002 career assists ranks 4th all time in Cal State Fullerton history and she is just one of four to beak 3,000 assists. She is 317 away from tying Stephanie Shrieve (1988-91) for third place. Ragan has accumulated 40-plus assists 16 times this year, 50-plus three times and 60 twice. Her career high is 65 last accomplished Nov. 7, 2009 vs. Pacific.
SERVING UP ACES: Genie Francisco (6th, 25 sa, 0.26 saps) ranks in the Big West's Top 10 this week and saw teammate Cami Croteau drop out after adding two aces this past week against UC Irvine and UC Riverside. Francisco had a season high for the Titans and a career-best 6 on Sept. 3 vs. Montana.
AMONG THE NATION'S LEADERS: Fullerton ranks, as a team, among the country's Top 30s in kills per set (9th, 14.45), assists per set (12th, 13.51) and digs per set (23rd, 17.19) and hitting percentage (29th, .259). They lead the Big West Conference in all four categories, as well as service aces (1.33 saps).
HITTING THEIR MARK: Both Kayla Neto and Torrie Brown rank among the Big West Conference's Top 10 in attack percentage. Neto has 301 kills in 666 swings and ranks 5th in the league with a .332 landing rate. Brown ranks 10th with a .283 mark, posting a career high 319 kills in 718 attacks. If the season ended today, Neto's percentage would be the best single-season average in school history. She had the third highest in program history last season.
RECORD CHASER: Senior Cami Croteau is putting together another solid year on the defensive side of things, averaging over five digs per set. She leads the league with 5.29 digs per set and ranks second in total digs with 524 total digs in 16 fewer sets than the league leader. She is now in second place all-time in Big West Conference and is just one of two players with more than 2,000 digs. Croteau continues to extend her Cal State Fullerton record, and currently sits at 2,112 career scoops. She trails Cal Poly's Kristin Jackson (2004-07) by 20 total digs for the league's record. Croteau needs to average just 10 digs over the final two regular season matches to tie, but should the Titans make the postseason, she will have at least one more opportunity to overtake Jackson.
SADDLER AND POWs: Cal State Fullerton's Erin Saddler has tied former Long Beach superstar Misty May for ninth all-time, having collected six Big West Player of the Week nods over her four-year career. She has set new Cal State Fullerton records having logged six in her career and four in one season, passing former teammate Brittany Moore. She is just two nods shy of Kylie Atherston's Big West record of six in a season (2007 with Cal Poly).
HOW SWEEP IT IS: Twenty of the Titans' 24 victories thus far have come by way of 3-0 sweeps of their opponents. The only four Fullerton wins that were not sweeps, were five set victories over Big West competitors Cal Poly (Oct. 1) and UC Davis (Oct. 9), and a four set wins over Cal Poly on Oct. 30 and Pacific (Nov.6). The Titans have been swept just once. Long Beach State downed them in three back on Sept. 25.
SETTING NEW STANDARDS: The Titans won their 24th match of the year last Saturday to continue to boost their new school record for wins in a season. The worst the Titans can do in the regular season would be 24-7, which would also give them a .774 winning percentage, also a school record. This year's team has a legitimate chance of making the postseason for the first time in school history. The Titans have a one-match lead with two conference matches to play. The Titans play their two final league contests against eighth place UC Irvine and seventh place Cal State Northridge.
MATCH MILESTONES: Seniors Erin Saddler and Cami Croteau have each played in every one of the Titans 121 matches since they began in 2007. If they each finish out the regular season without missing a match, they will be tied for third place in Cal State Fullerton history for the most matches played in a career with 123 events played. Only Stephanie Shrieve (134, 1988-91) and Stephanie Scofield (128, 1988-91) will have played in more. Croteau has played in all 433 of the Titans' sets while Saddler has missed just one set in four seasons at 432.
2010 TEAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS
&\#149; The 2010 Titans have set a new school record for most victories in a season with 24. The previous record was held by the 2009 and 1981 squads with 18 wins.
&\#149;The Titans have set a new school record for most conference victories in a season with 12. The previous record was 9 set during the 2008 season.
&\#149; The Titans winning percentage of .827 will set a new school record in overall winning percentage, as will their conference winning percentage of .857.
&\#149;The Titans, for the first time in the history of the program, have compiled winning seasons in three consecutive years.
&\#149;Fullerton has now posted seven straight season of 14-or-more victories, five straight with 15-or more wins and three straight with 17-or-more. Fullerton has also posted 17-or-more victories in four of their last five seasons. Prior to 2004, and since 1976, Fullerton had won 15-plus matches just twice, and finished with 10-or-more wins in just 7 seasons.
&\#149; For the first time in the program, an individual (Erin Saddler) has won four conference player of the week awards. In doing so, Saddler also set the career mark with 6 weekly honors in a Titan career, ranking her 9th all-time in the Big West.
&\#149;After receiving votes in the AVCA poll for the first time in the program's history last year, the Titans have been recognized by the coaches six times in 2010. They have currently been recognized for five straight weeks, also a school record.
&\#149; The Titans, for the second straight season beat a ranked opponent in then-No. 21 University of San Diego (27-25, 25-20, 25-21) on Sept. 22 at Titan Gym. The first time Fullerton beat a ranked opponent came on Sept. 18, 2009 when the Titans beat then-No. 7 UCLA at home (25-23, 15-25, 25-20, 18-25, 16-14).
&\#149; The Titans have set a new school record for home wins in 2010, posting a 16-1 mark in Titan Gym. They began the year with an 11-0 mark before Long Beach State snapped their unbeaten streak on Oct. 23.
&\#149; Fullerton, for the first time in the history of the program, won both matches of the season series from both Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara. Going into the season, the Titans were a combined 9-98 against the Mustangs and Gauchos all-time.
&\#149; The 2010 compiled the program's first seven-match winning streak in school history from Sept. 11 to Sept. 22 and have put together a second seven-match winning streak that is currently going on. Over the first streak, the Titans also set a new school record for 21 consecutive set victories.
&\#149; Twenty of the Titans' 24 victories have come by way of a 3-0 sweep of their opponents. This too is a new school record.