With less matches to play than other leagues, the Big West has been slow to form a quantity of intra-conference matches. That changed a bit this week, as the count was risen from two to four, giving some more clarity to the standings. While Long Beach State continued its dominance, UC Irvine cleared the two-match loss rubble and CSUN pulled off a surprise to shake up the table.
With new story-lines emerging and a new season of sorts in league play commencing, VolleyMob will be giving conference updates. Below is analysis as well as the weekly Big West table, awards, matches of the week and power rankings:
BIG WEST TABLE:
|#4 UC Irvine||3-1||16-5|
- VolleyMob Honorable Mention POTW (Arvis Greene – CSUN)
- VolleyMob Honorable Mention POTW (Josh Tuaniga – LBSU)
- Big West Weekly Awards
MATCHES OF THE WEEK:
- Mar. 24: #4 UC Irvine at #19 USC
VOLLEYMOB BIG WEST POWER RANKINGS:
- UC Irvine
THE BIGGEST THREAT TO THE BEACH
- #4 UC Irvine Anteaters
It might be pointless to discuss who can take down Long Beach State, because no one has shown the ability to yet and even if they falter they might have a big enough gap between number two to keep their top spot. At first it seemed like Hawaii and UC Irvine could take shots at LBSU, but now with Hawaii falling off a bit, the Anteaters might be the only team with a chance at taking the Big West crown besides the 49ers. They’re the only other team with one loss and of course still take on LBSU twice. Beyond that, UC Irvine already took on Hawaii twice on the road and if they could at least split with LBSU or win the rest of their matches then they’d be in a good spot for an at-large bid in case they don’t win the league.
- #10 CSUN Matadors
The Matadors were sitting a bit on the outside with a bit of a lull, but can now springboard off of a two-victory week over Hawaii. In fact, since their losses to Long Beach, Northridge has collected 12 consecutive set victories over the likes of George Mason, Harvard and Hawaii twice. Not only did the most recent successes have a big impact on the the top of the league and national standings, but it also pushes CSUN into the conversation atop the league as well. They started the year behind the eight ball in terms of earning an at-large bid should they not win the Big West, but if they can continue their hot streak and make a sprint to the finish line it wouldn’t be unheard of for them to make that push. Their next four matches against UCSB and UC Irvine will likely determine that, as they can wreck more of the league standings around LBSU and make their own gains off of it.
NEED TO STOP THE BLEEDING
- #7 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Beyond just dropping down in the Big West table, Hawaii has other reasons to worry about losing four in a row now. The recent slip has caused them to drop to number seven in the VolleyMob Top 20, behind three other schools currently not winning their league. That means that the Rainbow Warriors have work to do to get back ahead of teams in search of an at-large bid in case they cannot win the Big West. They’ve got a week off to turn things around, followed by two home matches against UC San Diego before their final four come at UC Santa Barbara – for a team that’s 0-3 on the road – and at home against #1 LBSU. Ideally they need to go at least 4-2, maybe even 5-1 in that stretch to stay alive for their at-large bid, as well as some Big West Tournament success following that.