LA JOLLA, Calif. -
After losing three times last week, the 21st-ranked UC San Diego women's volleyball team will look to get things turned around against Northern California foes Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus, as CCAA play continues this weekend.
The Tritons will travel to Chico to face the Wildcats on Friday night at 7:00 p.m., before squaring off with the Warriors in Turlock on Saturday at the same time.
UCSD heads to NorCal with an overall record of 5-4 and a 2-3 mark in the CCAA after losing to Cal State East Bay, Cal State Monterey Bay and San Francisco State during a busy week of conference play. The Tritons outhit the opposition .212 to .178 for the week, but still managed to lose three straight five-set decisions to fall below .500 in the CCAA for the first time since the beginning of the 2008 season.
The three-match losing streak marks the program's longest skid since November of 2005, when UCSD lost to Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State L.A. and Cal Poly Pomona during the final two weeks of conference play. Head coach Ricci Luyties' squad dropped 10 places in this week's AVCA Coaches' Poll, falling from No. 10 to No. 21 in the wake of the three straight defeats.
The Tritons were without two key members of the squad last week, as both Hillary Williamson and Roxanne Brunsting went down with injuries. Williamson missed all three matches, while Brunsting was injured in the third set against Monterey Bay.
Although Luyties was without his top two outside hitters, several players stepped up in their absence. Sophomore Julia Freidenberg averaged 2.73 kills on .359 hitting for the week, while senior Kaitlin Potter also had a 2.73 kill average and hit at a .356 clip. Freidenberg and Potter were active defensively as well, combining for 29 blocks, while senior Audrey Green tallied 16 by herself.
The Tritons finished with a total of 30 blocks as a team last week, recording a season-best 19 against SFSU alone.
UCSD opens play this week against a Chico State squad that had won three straight before falling to Sonoma State in three sets on Saturday. The Wildcats currently own an overall record of 7-3 and an even 2-2 mark in the CCAA. They will face Cal State Stanislaus on Wednesday before entertaining the Tritons on Friday.
Freshman Alex Shurtz leads Chico averaging 2.91 kills per game to go with a .242 hitting percentage, while sophomore Jessica Leek is averaging 2.89 kills and hitting at a team-high .341 clip. Leek is also the Wildcats' leader in blocks with 17. As a team, the Wildcats rank second in the CCAA with a hitting percentage of .233.
UCSD holds a 21-3 advantage in the all-time series with Chico State after sweeping the Wildcats in 2009.
After Friday's tilt, UCSD will face Cal State Stanislaus looking to continue its dominance over the Warriors. CSUS enters Wednesday's clash with Chico with an overall record of 5-4 and a 2-2 league mark after splitting two matches with Humboldt State and Sonoma State last week.
Junior Lianne Vicchio leads the Warriors averaging 3.31 kills per set, while freshman Eva Chafeh is second at 2.20. Sophomore Melissa Bishop leads the team in hitting percentage at .343 to go with 28 blocks. As a squad, the Warriors have averaged just under two blocks per game, a figure that ranks third in the CCAA.
UCSD defeated Cal State Stanislaus twice in 2009 and has won 24 out of 26 meetings with the Warriors overall. Saturday's contest will be the fourth and final stop on a four-match trip for the Tritons, marking their longest road swing of the season.