Volleyball keeps up the momentum

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

The California State East Bay women’s volleyball team has been on a roll.

They have won six of their last seven games in conference play, which has moved them up to third in the California Collegiate Athletic Association north division standings, giving them a chance to possibly make it into the postseason for the first time.

After their loss last Saturday against the second-ranked team in the North Division, Sonoma State (12-9 overall,10-4 conference), the Pioneers bounced back Saturday in their home game versus California State Monterey Bay (10-11, 5-9).

East Bay got off to a slow start in the first set as the Monterey Bay Otters took a 4-0 lead and looked like they would give the Pioneers a difficult game. As the set continued, the Pioneers and Otters evened out at 15-15 but Monterey’s offense took control and scored seven of the next 10 points between the two teams. Monterey went on to win the set 20-25.

“We lacked communication throughout the first set,” said senior defensive specialist Darlene Lee. “We had a hard time fronting the hitters and reading their angle when they hit cross body, we were able to adjust after as time went on.”

The Pioneers came out more relaxed in the second set and played more of their game, seizing critical opportunities. The two teams went back and forth throughout the set, and the game remained tied the majority of the time. East Bay managed to pull out the win in the set as they kept their composure and took the 25-23 lead, tying the match at 1-1.

In the 3rd set, East Bay took much more control and carried on the momentum from set two. The Pioneers did not trail the entire third set and had a reply to every move the Otter’s tried to make. “We were just trying to keep our composure and not allow Monterey to go on runs,” said junior outside hitter Cassidy Caton. “We stayed calm, but also kept our high energy.”

The Otters were determined to not let the Pioneers earn an easy win and challenged the home team in the fourth set. East Bay trailed most of the set and looked as if they were going to lose and play a 5th set, as they were down 13-17.

Composed, the Pioneers rallied their way back toward the middle of the set and scored six straight points, giving them the 23-20 lead. The two teams went back and forth after the run, each scoring two points, but with East Bay’s lead, they were able to hold off the Otters and win the set 25-22, putting the match to an end.

The Pioneer women led in kills, 68-59, and digs, 94-82, in the match. Sophomore outside hitter Kiki Leuteneker had a game high of 18 kills and sophomore Deja Thompson had a hitting percentage of .483, with 17 kills on 29 swings.

Darlene Lee finished with 24 digs on the night. Lee has been a huge impact player for the Pioneers all season, helping them become the No. 5 ranked team in digs per set.

“I have been working hard since we started in August,” Lee Said. “I have been moved from the left side to the right side and I am happy I have been able to adjust and make an impact for my team.”

The Pioneers are now 12-10 overall and 8-6 in conference play, standing at third place in the North division.  They play the 18th ranked team in the country, California State San Bernardino (14-4 overall, 11-2 conference) at home this Saturday.

“For San Bernardino we will be working a lot with serving tough to our opponent and be sure to work on mixing up our swings and hitting to certain areas of the court,” Lee said. “They are a tough team to beat, there’s no question in that, but they are definitely beatable if we play our game.”