Wildcats claw in straight sets

by Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports editor

Despite close matches in the first two sets, the Cal State East Bay women’s volleyball team fell to visiting Chico State 3-0 on Tuesday night at Pioneer Gymnasium in Hayward.

The Pioneers are now 3-10 overall and 1-4 in California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference competitions this season. The Wildcats find themselves on the other end of the spectrum following Tuesday’s victory and are now 13-4 overall and 5-2 in conference matches.

Being fast and having a fast offense really helps us get going. That’s what we want to do.

CSUEB managed to stay close with Chico in the first set but after freshman Kiki Leuteneker killed an assist from sophomore Kylie Fraga to tie the frame 20-20, the Wildcats pulled away. Chico State responded by taking the next four points in a row and closed out the Pioneers 25-21 to take an early 1-0 lead.

“East Bay came out fighting in those first two games,” Chico State senior Shannon Boling said. “This gym sucks the energy right out of you, but we talked about it and battled through it.”

It was a homecoming of sorts for Boling who was born in Walnut Creek and raised in Benicia. The senior racked up a team-high 10 kills on 15 attempts in front of a huge section of supporters.

CSUEB kept the contest close early. In the second set East Bay was down by just two points when they had a kill attempt blocked, which led to a spike from Boling that put Chico State up 15-12 and forced the Pioneers to take a time out. The Wildcats outscored the Pioneers 10-4 from that point and closed out the second set 25-19.

“We started out slow in game one but we were able to get comfortable and play our fast and quick style,” Wildcats junior Torey Thompson said. “Being fast and having a fast offense really helps us get going. That’s what we want to do.”

That is exactly what the Wildcats did in the third and final set of the match as they jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead that forced CSUEB Head Coach Jim Spagle to take a timeout and regroup with his team. Pioneers sophomore Kiani Rayford and freshman Kathy McKiernan both had big kills out of the timeout but the Wildcats were too much for the Pioneers and dominated the final set by a final score of 25-14.

Leuteneker led CSUEB with 10 kills and McKiernan finished the night with 7 kills. Pioneers junior outside hitter Darlene Lee finished the contest with 6 kills and 9 digs while senior Angie Maina recorded a team-high 13 digs in the losing effort.

Boling and sophomore outside hitter Anna Baytosh both had 10 kills for the Wildcats while junior Ashton Kershner had 9 kills and sophomore Shannon Cotton tallied a team-high 10 digs.

CSUEB will have three consecutive home games to try and get things back on track. The Pioneers will take on Cal State Dominguez Hills (4-11 overall, 2-5 conference) at 7 p.m. tomorrow and Cal State Los Angeles (11-4, 4-3) at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

On Tuesday, the Pioneers will host conference rival San Francisco State (4-8, 2-3) at Pioneer Gymnasium at 7 p.m.