LA JOLLA, Calif. -
Mired in a five-match losing streak, the UC San Diego women's volleyball team will come home for four straight over the next two weeks, looking to get things turned around.
The Tritons will host No. 23 Cal State L.A. on Friday, before welcoming Cal State Dominguez Hills to town on Saturday. Both contests will start at 7:00 p.m. in RIMAC Arena.
UCSD begins play this week with an overall record of 5-6 and a 2-5 mark in the California Collegiate Athletic Association standings after a pair of tough road losses over the weekend. The Tritons couldn't make a 2-1 advantage standup in a five set loss to Chico State on Friday and then suffered a 3-1 defeat at Cal State Stanislaus the following evening.
After winning five of its first six matches to open the season, UCSD has now dropped five in a row, marking the program's longest skid since 1992. The Tritons, who opened the season with a No. 8 national ranking in the AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll, dropped out of the rankings altogether on Monday after falling to No. 21 in last week's poll.
UCSD has been ranked in the top 25 every week since August 28, 2001.
Despite the recent slide, there were plenty of positives for head coach Ricci Luyties and the Triton coaching staff last week. Junior outside hitter Katie Condon averaged a team-high 3.22 kills per set against Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus, while sophomore middle blocker Julia Freidenberg averaged 2.78 kills and hit at a .360 clip. Freidenberg also led the squad with 12 blocks for the weekend.
Junior libero Janessa Werhane averaged 4.78 digs per set against the Wildcats and Warriors, while junior setter Thalia McCann dished out an average of 8.33 assists. As a team the Tritons lead the CCAA averaging 17.89 digs per set, while ranking second in both kills and assists at 13.27 and 12.49, respectively.
There was good news on the injury front as well last week, as junior outside Hillary Williamson returned to the lineup and averaged 3.00 digs per set, playing exclusively in the back. All-American Roxanne Brunsting -- UCSD's season leader averaging 3.10 kills per set -- was still sidelined with an ankle injury.
UCSD will look to end its current losing streak on Friday night against a Cal State L.A. squad that has dropped three of its last four after starting the season 5-1. The Golden Eagles come to town with an overall record of 6-4 and a 3-3 mark in the CCAA following a pair of losses at Cal State Monterey Bay (3-1) and San Francisco State (3-2) last week.
Junior outside hitter Natalia Gonzalez leads CSULA averaging 3.16 kills per set on .230 hitting, while sophomore middle blocker Marquis Mora is averaging 2.70 kills and hitting at a .239 clip. As a team, the Golden Eagles rank third in the CCAA with an opponent's hitting percentage of .161, while their 2.38 service aces per set are tops in the league.
UCSD holds a 23-14 advantage in the all-time series with Cal State L.A. and went 2-1 against the Golden Eagles in 2009. After sweeping both matches during the regular season, the Tritons were on the wrong end of a 3-0 decision with CSULA in the NCAA West Regional Semifinals in San Bernardino.
After Friday's tilt with Cal State L.A., Cal State Dominguez Hills will pay a visit to RIMAC Arena on Saturday. The Toros have an overall record of 1-10 and a 1-5 mark in the CCAA after losing to San Francisco State (3-0) and Cal State Monterey Bay (3-0) last week.
Freshman outside hitter Denise Devine leads CSUDH averaging 3.53 kills and 2.53 digs per set, while fellow rookie Elaine Hicks is averaging 2.44 kills and has recorded 16 blocks. The Toros' opponents are currently hitting .260, the highest percentage in the CCAA.
UCSD is 39-1 all-time against Cal State Dominguez Hills.