Women’s Volleyball Closes Strong Season with a Win

photo Courtesy / Ron allen

Amanda Zepeda

CSUEB volleyball player Roxanne Neely sets a ball.

Women’s volleyball put an exclamation mark at the end of their season with a second place finish in the CCAA Division II.

CSU East Bay finished a remarkable 2010 campaign with a win over Cal Poly Pomona in a three-set win on November 13.

This allowed the Pioneers to silence their critics, finishing with a stellar overall record of 20-7.

“In the CCAA Coaches Preseason Poll, we were picked to finish eighth,” said Pioneers volleyball head coach Jim Spagle. “I heard from a lot of so-called ‘volleyball experts’ who said we might not win more than four matches in the CCAA this season.

This team believed from the start that they could do some serious damage in conference play.”

As one of the most successful coaches in CSUEB history, the victory against Pomona gives head coach Jim Spagle his 14th 20-win season in 15 years at CSUEB.

It comes as no surprise to Spagle that the Pioneers were victorious in the last game of the season.

“I firmly believed that the team was going to win that match,” said Spagle. “We were going to go out with a win, no matter what. You could see it in every one of my athletes’ eyes.”

Not only was the last game a summary of what kind of season this 2010 team had, it was also one that pulled the heartstrings of all the players and coaches.

The reason? CSUEB volleyball says goodbye to eight seniors after this season.

“It was great to send our seniors off with a win, but at the same time pretty emotional, knowing I would never be coaching kids I have spent a ton of time with over the past four years, said Spagle. “As happy as I am to see them go on in their lives to accomplish great things, it is tough knowing I will not have them around in the future.”

The seniors include Roxanne Neely, who had six kills and 16 assists in the final game against Pomona, and was named CCAA Women’s Volleyball Player of the Week twice this season. The senior from Lancaster, California recalls her last game here at CSUEB as being bittersweet.

“I’m going to miss being with a bunch of girls that have the same passion and love for volleyball as me,” said Neely.

“Receiving the honor of player of the week feels good because it’s nice to be recognized for your hard work, but it was not just my hard work, it was the work of the whole team.”

This skilled athlete will continue in volleyball as a coach for a club team in Santa Clara and, shortly after, Neely aspires to play professional volleyball oversees. With a promising career and future, Neely is quick to give credit where credit is due.

“I want to thank this team and CSUEB for the experience they gave me,” said Neely. “It’s been a fun four years. It’s been a great ride.”

Despite the loss of these key veteran senior players, CSUEB looks to have a successful 2011 season, as they will return their top hitter in Katie Allen and top blockers Kitona Offord and Brianna Bryant.

“The seniors were a huge part of our team,” said Allen. “It’s going to be hard not having them anymore.”

Allen, a freshman, had a phenomenal first year as a Pioneer and is expected to be a huge contributor in seasons to come.

“Katie has done a remarkable job stepping in and being a starter right away. With her addition to the starting lineup, the team was ready to take the next step and prove their abilities to every team conference play this season,” said Coach Spagle.

Due to the school’s transition from Division III to Division II, the women’s volleyball team needed to face a two-year probation, which prohibits them from participating in conference playoffs. This year was the last year of their probation, which means in 2011, the Pioneers will be eligible to compete in postseason competition.

“This team was pushing hard throughout the season with one motivating factor: pride,” said Coach Spagle. “Pride in their volleyball program, pride in our athletic department, and most of all, pride in CSU East Bay.”

The 15-year veteran coach summarizes the year with the upmost gratitude to the team’s loyal supporters.

“Our fans were amazing. The electricity I have experienced just walking across the campus has been a real eye opener,” said Spagle.
“Students I have never met before giving me high fives and yelling out words of encouragement as I pass by.

“The wave of enthusiasm that is building across campus is just what I had hoped for when our university’s administration decided to make the move to Division II, and I look forward to turning that wave into a tsunami in the not-so-distant future.”