Women's preview: Big West Conference

Women's preview: Big West Conference

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Women's preview: Big West Conference

The UC Davis team that this fall bookended its season with tournament wins looks nothing like the Aggie squad of five years ago. The talent is deeper, the roster younger and the schedule vastly more difficult.

The transformation hasn’t been easy or quick.

“It’s what the players have done, the players on this team but also the players before them,” head coach Anne Walker explained. “They’ve continued to play well, and when they’ve been given opportunities to play in a good event they’ve fared well and finished high up the roster. That starts to get noticed. You’ve become a team that people want in their event.”

UC Davis won its season opener (the Ptarmigan Ram Classic) for the first time this fall behind the solid play of junior leader Demi Runas. Four events later, sophomore Jessica Chulya led the team to another victory at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown. A different player led the team in each of the three tournaments in between, including freshmen Beverly Vatananugulkit and Blair Lewis.

“Any time one of your freshmen leads the way for you, it’s a good thing because it usually means the future is pretty bright,” Walker said.

There are no seniors on the Aggie roster, which makes Runas, a quarterfinalist at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the most experienced player on the team. At No. 55 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, she also carries the highest ranking in the Big West. UC Davis is far and away the most talented school in the conference, but Walker knows getting through regionals isn’t as easy as it used to be.

UC Davis made its second appearance at the NCAA Championship last spring, finishing 20th of 24 teams. This year the Aggies end the regular season with starts at the Ping/ASU Invitational and Pacific Coast Intercollegiate (the Aggies are co-hosting the latter with Oregon).

That home stretch almost makes the postseason look easy.

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Top of the class: UC Davis

Best player in the fall: Demi Runas, UC Davis

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Past champions

2007: UC Irvine

2008: UC Irvine

2009: Long Beach State

2010: UC Davis

2011: UC Davis

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Conference capsules

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Complete coverage

Wondering how your favorite conference is shaping up headed into the spring season? Who is our favorite to pick up the automatic qualifier? Check out our conference-by-conference break down with our complete coverage page here.

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