Titans' Quest for National Title Begins Friday
Nov. 30, 2010
Fullerton, Calif. - Cal State Fullerton volleyball will make its inaugural appearance in the volleyball postseason this weekend as it travels to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on Colorado State in the first round of the NCAA championship tournament.
The Titans are in after winning the Big West Conference championship as are all four of the other universities in the four-team first/second round bracket. The host school Stanford won the Pac-10 conference for the fifth straight time, Colorado State won the Mountain West Conference and Albany took the American East Conference title.
Three of the four teams in this weekend's brackets are ranked nationally by the AVCA including the Titans who cracked the Top 25 for the first time in program history last week after receiving votes for nearly a month and a half. This week, the Titans are up a spot to No. 24 and will take on the No. 17 Rams. The Cardinal are ranked No. 2 in both the AVCA poll and the NCAA RPI ratings and are the favorite to emerge form the bracket.
The winner of the Fullerton-Colorado State match (Dec. 3, 4:30 p.m.) will square off with the winner of the Stanford-Albany match (Dec. 3, 7 p.m.) on Dec. 4 to see who will advance to the Dayton Regional (Dayton, Ohio) on Dec. 10-11. The semifinals and championship matches will take place in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 16 and 18 and the Sprint Center.
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BRIEFLY ABOUT CAL STATE FULLERTON: Cal State Fullerton (26-5, 14-2) head into uncharted territory this weekend as winners of 22 of their final 24 matches of the regular season and currently hold a program best nine-match winning streak. The program has set numerous team records including this for most wins in a season (26) and conference victories (14) and, despite having never having finished a conference season higher than 5th place, they won the Big West Conference championship by two matches . Although they were unable to beat them in 2010, the Titans dethroned Long Beach State, winners of the let two Big West Conference titles, by winning their last nine matches of the regular season. The Titans come into the week tied with Purdue as the No. 24 team in the nation according to the AVCA. The Titans move into the postseason with an RPI of 30. The Titans rank among the nation's Top 10 in assists per set (8th, 13.67 aps) and kills per set (6th, 14.62 kps). Junior setter Andrea Ragan is 7th in the nation with 11.91 assists per set.
VERSUS COLORADO STATE (Fort Collins, Col.): The all-time series history between Fullerton and Colorado State goes back as far as 1983, but was short-lived lasting until their last meeting in 1991. The first meeting between the Rams and Titans ended in a 3-0 (15-17, 4-15, 8-15) loss for Fran Cummings' squad on Sept. 16 of that year in a non-conference tournament at Titan Gym. The Titans finished 5-28 in 1981 and (0-14) 8th in the WCAA. The next meeting between the two came under new management. The Titans had shifted to then-Head Coach Jim Huffman, and the second-year coach guided the 1990 squad to their eight win of the year on the last day of the season against the Rams. The 1991 team beat Colorado State 15-12, 15-6, 6-15, 15-13 on Nov. 19 to finish the season 8-30 overall and finished 3-15 in the Big West (tied-8th). The Third meeting saw the Titans head to Fort Collins, Col., where they were dealt a convincing loss (2-15, 4-15, 12-15) by the horns of the Rams on Aug. 31, 1991. The Titans finished the season 9-27 overall and 4-14 (tied-8th) in the Big West.
BRIEFLY ABOUT THE RAMS: Colorado State (25-4, 14-2) claimed its second-consecutive Mountain West Conference title in 2010 and is appearing in the postseason for the 16th straight time and 22nd time overall. Colorado State has an RPI of 22 and is currently ranked No. 17 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. The Rams rank in the nation's Top 10 in blocks per set (2nd, 3.04 bps) and winning percentage (10th, .862). Blocker Megan Plourd ranks 4th in the nation in blocks per set (1.54 bps).
VERSUS STANFORD (Palo Alto, Calif.): Cal State Fullerton and Stanford have met up on the athletic field many times in the schools' histories, but on the volleyball court, they have met just seven times with the Cardinal coming up on the winning end in six of them. The seven-match all-time series lasted just four years from 1981 to 1984. The Titans won the inaugural meeting in 1981 in a non-conference tournament on Nov. 7, 1981, at UCLA, 3-0 (5-15, 15-13, 15-8), but since, Fullerton has dropped the last six meetings over the next three seasons. All six of the losses came in WCAA conference play, where the two teams were competing in the same league until the Titans shifted to the PCAA in 1985. All of the Titan-Cardinal meetings took place under then-Fullerton Head Coach Fran Cummings.
BRIEFLY ABOUT THE CARDINAL: The Pac-10 champion Stanford (24-3, 15-3) is one of the most illustrious programs in the sport and has won the last five league titles. The Cardinal are six-time national champions (1992, 94, 96, 97, 2001, 04) and have played in all 30 of the NCAA Div. I postseason tournaments - just one of two teams to have accomplished that feat. They are also veterans of 19 semifinals and 15 national title matches. They are rank No. 2 in the nation by the AVCA and have an RPI of 2.
VERSUS ALBANY (Albany, NY): There is no history between Cal State Fullerton and Albany. If they face each other in the Palo Alto Tournament, it will be their first meeting.
BRIEFLY ABOUT THE GREAT DANES: Albany (22-8, 10-2) has won five of the last seven American East Conference titles accounting for all five of their postseason appearances. Albany comes into the postseason nuanced by the AVCA and sits at No. 94 in the nation in RPI. Their highest team rank statistically is their dig per set numbers, coming in at 30th in the nation with 17.13 dps.
2010 TEAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
&\#149; The Titans won their first-ever Big West Conference championship with a 14-2 record and will be making their first postseason appearance with the automatic berth.
&\#149;Carolyn Zimmerman became the first Titan head coach to win the Big West Coach of the Year Award.
&\#149; Senior Outside hitter Erin Saddler became the second Titan in the last three to win the Big West Player of the Year Award. It is the second in the program's history.
&\#149;For the first time in program's history, the Titans had four players represented on the All-Big West Conference First Team.
&\#149; The 2010 Titans have set a new school record for most victories in a season with 26. 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 14. The previous record was 9 set during the 2008 season.
&\#149; The Titans winning percentage of .839 will set a new school record in overall winning percentage, as will their conference winning percentage of .875.
&\#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 were been recognized by the coaches six times in 2010 (including 5 in a row to end the regular season).
&\#149; The Titans broke into the AVCA Top 25 for the first time in the program's history on Nov. 22 (while they were idle) and have ascended to No. 24 in the most recent (Nov. 29) coaches poll.
&\#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 team compiled the program's first seven-match winning streak in school history from Sept. 11 to Sept. 22 and then turn around and broke that record with their current nine-match streak heading into the first/second rounds of the tournament. Over the first winning streak, the Titans also set a new school record for 21 consecutive set victories, sweeping all seven of their opponents.
&\#149; Twenty of the Titans' 26 victories have come by way of a 3-0 sweep of their opponents. This too is a new school record.