Daily 49er

Big West women’s volleyball predictions

Hawaii has been the Big West Conference’s champion since it joined the conference in 2012.

Anita Wang, Sports Editor

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Standings, coaches’ polls, NCAA rankings, at-large bids and qualifiers – these are all things people talk about when determining how good a team is, hoping to accurately predict who will become conference champions and advance to the Sweet 16, Final Four and eventually, the NCAA Championships.

It definitely helps to gauge those ‘who will advance or win’ guesses with the amount of victories a team racks up over the course of the season, but too often have teams surprised their fans and spectators.

Take for example the men’s basketball team at Cal Poly, who finished with a 14-20 overall record and finished sixth in the Big West last season. They not only claimed the Big West Tournament title, but also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

With all that said, I will go ahead and make my own Big West predictions women’s volleyball.

  1. UC Riverside (2-13, 0-3 Big West)

The Highlanders have a nine-game losing streak that gave them their current 2-13 overall record. I think that says enough. For the past decade, they have finished in the bottom three in the conference, and typically don’t have anyone named player of the week or any honorable mentions.

  1. Cal State Fullerton (6-10, 0-3 Big West)

Although the Titans’ record isn’t impressive, they pretty much beat the teams ranked under them and have lost to teams ranked above them. They have a 6-foot, freshman standout in Niki Withers, who leads the team with 219 kills. Returning 6-feet-3-inch Holland Crenshaw has put up big numbers for her team in the past, and trails Withers in kills. This team will move up in the standings in a couple years, but right now, depending on a freshman and only one returner to lead their offense isn’t very reassuring.

  1. Cal Poly (6-7, 1-2 Big West)

The Mustangs have lost to schools like Saint Mary’s and UC Davis and went to four games against the worst team in the conference. But I put them ahead of CSUF because they have two solid hitters and a setter who is third in kills on the team.

  1. UC Davis (7-9, 2-1 Big West)

The Aggies have lost more than they have won this season, but they were able to sweep UCSB and take down Cal Poly, while only getting swept by the NCAA’s No. 6 Washington, No. 61 Rice and No. 70 UNLV.

  1. UC Irvine (10-7, 0-3 Big West)

They had a 10-4 preseason record, but haven’t held up in the Big West after losing three matches against conference foes. The Anteaters haven’t played any notable teams, but surprisingly outlasted a challenging Pepperdine team in five sets. They have three go-to hitters in Marisa Bubica, Cassidy Pickrell and Allison Lee – all who reached over 200 kills this season.

  1. UC Santa Barbara (7-7, 2-1 Big West)

The Gauchos swept No. 53 Santa Clara, a team with a 12-5 overall record; but then went and got swept by UC Davis. It’s hard to tell where this team will finish. Although they don’t have any players with over 200 kills, they have four in triple digits and a 6-foot outside hitter who leads the team with 212 digs.

  1. Cal State Northridge (11-4, 2-1 Big West)

The Matadors were swept by No.1 Stanford and No. 12 Arizona, while coming away with six sweeps of their own this season. They have a well-rounded roster with four returning hitters who accumulated over 100 kills each. These four girls will add not only experience to the 2013 Big West Tri-Champion team lineup, but also chemistry.

  1. Long Beach State (13-4, 3-0 Big West)

The 49ers only lost two starters, leaving them with an experienced lineup. They have an incredible setter who transferred from Iowa State who not only can set up plays off of bad passes, but knows how to spot an opportunity for a kill; she has the team’s highest hitting percentage and 64 kills. Three of the Beach’s returning hitters have combined for 471 kills and have a two-time Big West Defensive Player of the Week in Tyler Jackson. The 49ers should give Hawaii a run for its money.

  1. Hawaii (12-3, 4-0 Big West)

Two of Rainbow Wahine’s losses were to No.5 Oregon and No. 15 UCLA, both close matches. This school is like LBSU, a school with notable history and a long-time head coach of over three decades. Being back-to-back Big West champions, head coach Dave Shoji probably won’t allow anything less. Although he lost AVCA First-Team All-American/Athlete of the Year/two-time Big West player of the year, Emily Hartong, his roster is still packed with punch.

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