Volleyball squad claws out win over San Marcos Cougars


Photo by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Louis LaVenture,

It’s been a tough couple of years for the Cal State East Bay women’s volleyball team.

The squad hasn’t posted a winning record since 2011 when they finished 16-11 overall and 11-11 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference games, but still missed out on the postseason.

Since 2011, the Pioneers are a combined 39-75 overall and 25-61 in CCAA games. Unfortunately, things are off to a similar slow start for CSUEB this year as the team finds itself 6-8 overall and 2-4 in conference play with just 12 regular season games left before the CCAA tournament begins on Nov. 12 in San Bernardino.

Despite a 3-0 loss at home on Friday to UC San Diego (8-5 overall, 5-0 conference), the momentum seemed to shift in East Bay’s favor on Saturday when they dominated Cal State San Marcos (9-5, 2-3) and cruised to an easy 3-0 victory.

It was a slew of sophomores who led the way in the victory over San Marcos, in outside hitters Julie Navarro and Kiki Leuteneker as well as middle blocker Deja Thompson, who combined for 37 kills and 97 of the team’s 129 total at- tacks in the match.

The trio also leads the team in attacks, kills and points scored this season.

East Bay dominated the first two sets against the Cougars and finished them 25-14 and 25-17 respectively.

However, San Marcos bounced back in the third and final set that went back and forth between the two squads.

The Pioneers eventually took control thanks to a few late kills Navarro and Leuteneker. Leuteneker said that they watch films on every team before matches to identify the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

“We do not necessarily have game plans but have ideas on which players to keep the ball away from and where to place the ball,” Leuteneker said.

“We did not have plans specifically for San Marcos. Just wanted to win and pulled it off.”

With the score tied at 24 Navarro scored on a huge kill from sophomore setter Katie Ireland to put East Bay up 25-24.

On the next play, it was Ireland again with the setup, but this time it was to Leuteneker who smashed the game-winner past the defense for a 26-24 third set victory. Leuteneker credited a “strong core and fast high arm swing” as the main factors in behind her powerful kills.

The Pioneers will have to take their act on the road this weekend as they travel to Southern California to take on two CCAA conference opponents.

At 7 p.m. on Friday East Bay will play the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros (5- 9, 2-4) in Carson at The Torodome.

Then on Saturday the Pioneers will go to the Eagles Nest to take on Cal State Los Angeles (9-5, 5-1), also at 7 p.m.

The next home game for East Bay is on Oct. 14 at Pioneer Gymnasium on the Hayward campus. The Pioneers will host CCAA conference foe Stanislaus State (6-8, 3-2) at 7 p.m.