SDSU TO MAKE FIRST NCAA TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE SINCE 2001
After defeating Nevada last week (Nov. 20) in its final regular-season match, San Diego State claimed a share of the 2012 Mountain West championship. SDSU then received an at-large invitation to compete in the NCAA Tournament and will face St. Mary's on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 5:00 p.m. (PT) at USC's Galen Center in Los Angeles. USC will face Fairfield at 7:00 p.m. in the other first-round matchup at the Galen Center. The winners of Thursday's contest will square off on Friday (Nov. 30) at 7:00 p.m.
MOUNTAIN WEST TITLE, NCAA TOURNEY
SDSU enters the week tied with a record of 23-7 overall. The Aztecs finished 13-3 in Mountain West play and shared the conference title with Colorado State. Since CSU held the tiebreaker vs. the Aztecs, it was awarded the league's automatic bid to the postseason tourney. San Diego State then received the at-large berth to become the second team from the Mountain West in this year's tournament. This marks the Aztecs' first appearance in the postseason since 2001 and their 14th all-time. SDSU's record in the NCAA Tournament is 15-13.
San Diego State has won its last 12 straight matches and 14 of its last 15. SDSU's last loss came at Boise State on Oct. 11. The 12-match winning streak is the Aztecs' longest since the 1995 campaign when they won 12 in a row. That year SDSU finished with a record of 27-5 overall and 13-1 in the Western Athletic Conference. The last season in which San Diego State won as many as 20 matches was 2002 when it finished with a record of 22-12. They enter the week with a record of 23-7. The last time the Aztecs won as many as 23 matches in a season was in1995 when it recorded 27 victories.
San Diego State's record in its series against St. Mary's stands at 2-3. SDSU won the first two meetings with the Gaels (1996, 2000) with St. Mary's emerging victorious in the last three contests (twice in 2009, 2010). The Aztecs are 0-1 vs. the Gaels in San Diego, 0-1 in Moraga and 2-1 on neutral courts.
SCOUTING THE GAELS
St. Mary's comes into the tournament with a record of 17-10. The Gaels finished with a 12-4 mark in the West Coast Conference, good for a third-place finish. St. Mary's is just outside the AVCA Top 25 as it is the top vote-getter among the teams listed as receiving votes. The Gaels are led by outside hitter Kristina Graven (3.37 kills, 3.32 digs per set) and middle blocker Gabby Jolly (3.17 kills, 1.17 blocks per set). St. Mary's concluded the regular season by winning seven of its final eight matches including a victory over No. 13 San Diego.
MOUNTAIN WEST COACH OF THE YEAR
Head Coach Deitre Collins-Parker was voted the Mountain West Coach of the Year after her Aztecs compiled a record of 23-7 overall and 13-3 in league play to earn SDSU's first Mountain West volleyball championship. In her four seasons at San Diego State she has compiled a record of 71-18.
Three members of the Aztec squad received all-conference recognition while a fourth was named the league's Newcomer of the Year. Senior middle blocker Andrea Hannasch and junior outside hitter Reagan Shelton were named to the all-Mountain West team as they were at the conclusion the of the 2011 season. For Hannasch, it marks her third year as a member of the all-league squad. For the second straight year Aztec junior Johnna Fouch was recognized as an all-conference performer as she was named the Mountain West Setter of the Year just as she was last season. Sophomore outside hitter Michelle Waber, in her first season at SDSU after transferring from Hawai'i, was named the conference Newcomer of the Year.
HANNASCH LEADS OFFENSE Andrea Hannasch has averaged 3.69 kills, 1.75 digs and 4.13 points per set while hitting .352 over the Aztecs' last five matches. She has reached double figures in kills in eight of SDSU's last 10 contests. En route to all-conference honors in 2012, Hannasch finished the regular season ranked among the top 10 in the Mountain West in three categories in league matches including hitting percentage (.307), kills (3.14 per set) and points (3.80 per set).
FOUCH'S SETS IT UP
Setter Johnna Fouch has notched double-doubles (assists-digs) in six of SDSU's last eight matches. Over the past seven matches Fouch is averaging 3.00 digs per set. She is hitting .418 from her setter position with only four attack errors in 67 attempts. In Mountain West matches she had an average of 10.88 assists per set and was seventh in service aces at 0.23 per set as she was the conference Setter of the Year for the second consecutive season.
SHELTON ON THE OFFENSIVE Raegan Shelton finished the regular season with double-figure efforts in kills in four of the final five matches. Over that span she averaged 3.62 kills per set while hitting .349. In league play she ranked sixth in kills at 3.27 kills per set and was 10th with a mark of 3.72 points per set as she earned all-league honors for the second straight year.
WABER ON THE OFFENSIVE
Over SDSU's last eight matches, Michelle Waber has averaged 3.34 kills and 3.92 points per set. She had back-to-back matches with two service aces in wins over Boise State (Nov. 10) and No. 18 San Diego (Nov. 14). She had at least once ace in four of SDSU's last five matches.
HARRIS ON THE BLOCK Emily Harris has emerged as the team's leading blocker averaging 1.34 per set. Over SDSU's last five matches she is averaging 1.69 blocks per set. With 150 blocks in 2012 she ranks fourth on the SDSU top 10 list for block assists in a season. Harris is the lone Aztec to have recorded at least one block in every match.
JACKELS DIGGIN' IT
Libero Kristi Jackels has averaged 4.44 digs per set over SDSU's last nine matches. She has recorded 20 or more digs in a match on seven occasions during the 2012 season. Her 470 digs this season ties for sixth on the SDSU single-season list. She is the only player to appear four times on that list as her season dig totals each of her four years as an Aztec rank among the all-time SDSU top 10.
SOLID AS STEEL
Sophomore Chaiymin Steel has started as the right side hitter in 28 of SDSU's 30 matches this season. Her season high of 15 kills came at Boise on Oct. 9 when she also recorded a season-high 17.5 points. Steel is SDSU's third leading blocker at 0.87 per set. For the season she is averaging 2.32 points per set.
The Aztecs hit over .300 as a team in four of their final six matches this season ... SDSU is hitting .306 as a team and holding opponents to a .151 hitting percentage over its last five matches ... Justine Ricigliano tied her career high with two service aces in the win over Nevada on Nov. 20 ... Courtney Vaccarello set her career best as an Aztec with three assists against Nevada on Nov. 20 ... Setter Johnna Fouch (assists-digs) has recorded 10 double-doubles this season to lead the team. Outside hitter Michelle Waber (kills-digs) has three and Chloe Mathis (assists-digs) has two while Raegan Shelton and Andrea Hannasch have one (kills-digs).