Nov. 24, 2009
IRVINE, Calif. - Senior Angela Hupp earned First Team All-Big West honors for the second consecutive season and freshman Britney Graff became the sixth straight Northridge first-year player to be named to the All-Freshman Team as the postseason honors were handed out by the conference office on Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Hupp, a senior from Acton, Calif., finished her career with four All-Big West honors. She was the Big West Conference Freshman of the Year as well as a All-Freshman Team selection in 2006, Honorable Mention in 2007 and a First Team pick in both 2008 and 2009. She started all 30 matches for the Matadors in 2009 and led Northridge in kills (322) and total attacks (953). Hupp was also second in kills per set (2.75), assists (415) and blocks (95). She finished her career ranked in the Northridge career top-10 in six different categories.
Graff, a true freshman from Canyon Lake, Calif., earns a spot on the seven-player All-Freshman Team, the sixth straight season a Matador freshman has been named to the All-Freshman squad. Graff started 27 of the 28 matches in which she appeared and finished second on the Matadors with 287 kills (2.66 k/s). She was also second on the team in aces (21) and digs (262).
Complete Release Courtesy of the Big West Conference
Three schools were recognized for their outstanding efforts during the season by receiving top conference honors to go along with the 2009 Big West Volleyball All-Conference accolades released today. UC Santa Barbara's Rebecca Saraceno was tabbed 2009 Big West Player of the Year, Cal State Fullerton's Kayla Neto garnered Big West Freshman of the Year accolades and UC Davis' Jamie Holmes and UC Santa Barbara's Kathy Gregory shared Big West Coach of the Year honors.
Saraceno led the Big West Conference and ranks among the top 20 in the country in kills, averaging 4.50 per set. The Redondo Beach, Calif., native was also one of the best in the league in service aces in 2009 with a seventh place ranking (0.28 p/s). Earlier this season she became just the sixth player in conference history to garner four or more weekly accolades in one season. Her second award of the year also earned her AVCA National Player of the Week, which followed a career-high 29 kills that tied for third all-time in school history under the rally-scoring format. Saraceno becomes the first Gaucho to earn the distinguished honor of Big West Player of the Year since Janine Sandell was tabbed player of the year in 2005.
If this season's awards are any indication of a school's future, then Cal State Fullerton is looking at a string of successful seasons to come as Neto collects Big West Freshman of the Year honors. She becomes the first Titan in 29 years to collect such honors with Becky Howlett picking up the only other freshman of the year honor in school history back in 1990. Hailing from Clarksburg, Calif., Neto ranked fourth in the Big West in hitting percentage with a .328 clip. Her numbers are even more impressive when you look at conference-only contests, where she topped the charts with a .374 hitting percentage and placed sixth with a 3.60 kill average. Neto was also a two-time Big West Player of the Week recipient and the only freshman to receive a weekly nod this season, accumulating accolades on Oct. 5 and Nov. 9.
In just her second season at the helm of the UC Davis squad, head coach Jamie Holmes guided the Aggies to a remarkable turnaround season which earned her Big West Co-Coach of the Year. UC Davis, who collected 16 total wins over the past two seasons combined, won its final contest of the 2009 season to improve to 20-10 to secure their first 20-win season since competing at the DI level in the Big West. Davis joined the league back in 2007, but were successful for many years at the DII level. The last time UCD showcased a 20-win season was back in 1996 when the Aggies boasted a 21-6 mark and advanced to the NCAA DII Tournament. The Aggies also made vast improvements in conference play, finishing in a three-way tie for second place with an 11-5 mark. In the Aggies' first two seasons in the Big West (2007, 2008), they combined for five total Big West victories.
Also making huge strides in 2009 were the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, who are led by veteran head coach and 2009 Big West Co-Coach of the Year Kathy Gregory. After finishing in seventh and sixth place the previous two seasons due to a less than stellar conference mark, the Gauchos ended this year locked in a three-way tie for second with an 11-5 record, their best record since 2005 when they were crowned Big West co-champions. This is the seventh coach of the year honor for Gregory, who is currently in her 35th season at UC Santa Barbara. Gregory, the only coach UC Santa Barbara has known, eclipsed the 600-win milestone this season. Since competing in the Big West Conference, she has posted a 605-264 overall record. Gregory has coached the Gauchos squad since 1975, but UC Santa Barbara has only been a member of the Big West Conference since 1984. The only other coach to reach the aforementioned milestone is current Long Beach State head coach Brian Gimmilaro, who currently has 669 wins.
Seven teams were represented on the first team with four schools placing a trio of players on the elite list, which includes 2009 Big West champion Long Beach State with Caitlin Ledoux, Ashley Lee and Naomi Washington each receiving a nod. Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara also paced the league with three selections apiece. Pacific picked up two recipients, while Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge each garnered one All-Big West First Team member.
Seven of the first team members are multiple award winners with UC Irvine's Kari Pestolesi as the lone representative to land a spot on the list for the third straight year. Pestolesi, with the conference's fourth-best kill average (3.81), guided UC Irvine to a three-way tie for second in the Big West standings. The second-place mark ties the programs highest finish. Joining the junior outside hitter as repeat offenders on the first team list are Cami Croteau (Cal State Fullerton), Mallori Gibson (Pacific), Angela Hupp (Cal State Northridge), Caitlin Ledoux (Long Beach State), Dominique Olowalafe (Cal Poly), and Naomi Washington.
UC Davis dominated the Honorable Mention Team with four selections - Carson Lowden, Betsy Sedlak, Kayla Varney and Allison Whitson. Accompanying the Aggies quartet was a UC Riverside duo comprised of Dominique Cowling and Brittany Murrey and individuals from three different schools.
- GO MATADORS -