LA JOLLA, Calif. -
After winning three out of four at the Phoenix Inn GNAC Conference Challenge in Oregon last week, the 11th-ranked UC San Diego women's volleyball returns home to open California Collegiate Athletic Association play this weekend.
The Tritons, who were picked to finish second in the CCAA in last month's preseason poll, will host Humboldt State on Friday, before entertaining Sonoma State on Saturday. Both matches will start at 7:00 p.m. in UCSD's RIMAC Arena.
Led by the strong play of junior outsides Roxanne Brunsting and Hillary Williamson, the Tritons notched victories over No. 24 Alaska Anchorage (3-2), Central Washington (3-0) and host Western Oregon (3-0) during the two-day tournament, with the lone slip up coming in a four-set loss to Western Washington.
Playing as an outside hitter for the first time in her collegiate career, Brunsting finished with at least 10 kills in all four matches and tallied three double-doubles (kills and digs) over the weekend. She posted per set averages of 3.27 kills, 3.27 digs, 0.67 blocks and 0.47 service aces for the tournament and took home Molten/CCAA Player of the Week honors for her performance on Monday.
Williamson had an impressive opening weekend as well, hitting a team-high .337 in four matches, while averaging 3.13 kills, 3.07 digs and 0.33 assists per set. She was outstanding in a losing effort against WWU, tallying career-highs of 17 kills and 24 digs.
Junior Thalia McCann, who has taken over setting duties from graduated All-American Elaine Chen, proved to be more than up to the task, finishing with assist totals of 46, 32, 49 and 32 in four outings, while also hitting at a .326 clip for the week. Junior libero Janessa Werhane got off to a hot start as well, leading UCSD with a total of 73 digs and nine service aces at the tournament.
It all added up to a successful debut for head coach Ricci Luyties, who was pleased with the 3-1 result in his opening weekend at the helm.
"It was a great tournament for us in that we know where our strengths are and we know what we need to work on," Luyties said. "We were definitely tested in Oregon and for the most part, we were up to the challenge. I'm excited to come home and hopefully we'll continue to get better with the start of conference play."
Luyties and the Tritons will kick off CCAA action against Humboldt State Friday in their home opener. The Lumberjacks enter this weekend's matchup in search of their first win of the season after going 0-4 against the same four squads UCSD saw last weekend. Junior outside hitter Oceana Matsubu leads HSU averaging 2.71 kills and 2.43 digs per set, while freshman middle blocker Allison Drobish comes in with a total of 11 blocks. The Jacks currently rank last in the conference in hitting percentage (.087), assists per set (6.86) and kills per set (7.79).
UCSD is 11-0 all-time against Humboldt State after sweeping the Jacks twice in 2009.
Following Friday's tilt with HSU, the Tritons will welcome Sonoma State to town on Saturday. The Seawolves, who were ranked 21st to open the season, fell out of the top 25 this week despite posting a 3-1 mark in their own tournament over the weekend. SSU defeated Dominican, BYU-Hawaii and Grand Canyon before falling to Seattle Pacific in three sets.
Junior outside hitter Kaela Peterson leads the Seawolves averaging of 3.46 kills and 1.92 digs per set, while junior setter Lindsay Lytle is second averaging 3.00 kills to go with 35 assists and 10 blocks. Sonoma State has been strong in the middle so far, leading the CCAA in blocks per set at 2.62, while ranking third in assists per set at 12.62.
UCSD holds a 20-5 advantage in the all-time series with Sonoma after defeating the Seawolves twice last season.