Volleyball qualifies for CCAA Tournament for first time

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

The Cal State East Bay volleyball team has qualified and will compete in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament for the first time ever since joining the conference in 2009.

East Bay, 13-13 overall and 9-9 conference, fought hard to get the wins necessary to qualify for the tournament. It’s a significant accomplishment for the team: last year they went 6-22 overall and 4-16 in conference.

“I feel so honored and blessed to be entering the tournament with these girls,” said sophomore middle Deja Thompson. “We did a complete turn-around compared to last season and it is a pretty amazing feeling. We were counted out. No one thought we could do this but us.”

The Pioneers barely made their way in, coming in at fourth place in CCAA’s North Division. Their standing matches them up to play California State San Bernardino (21-4 overall, 15-2 conference), the number-one-seeded team not only in the North Division, but also in the entire conference. In their previous matchup against San Bernardino on Nov. 5, East Bay was swept by the Coyotes by the scores of 25-22, 26-16 and 25-17.

“Going into the tournament playing our first match versus a team like San Bernardino, you could say we are the underdogs,” said sophomore outside hitter Kiki Leuteneker.

The team recently fell to Humboldt State (13-13, 8-10) on the road on Saturday, but the squad will have to shake off the loss before the tournament. East Bay looked like they were on the road to sweep the Jacks as they took a 2-0 lead in sets (25- 22, 27-25). But Humboldt fought back in the third set. They started the set on an 8-0 run and never looked back, winning, 25-20. That momentum carried into the next two sets and the Jacks were able to complete a full comeback by winning them 25- 18 and 15-11, which gave them the 3-2 win over the Pioneers. “Volleyball is definitely a game of mo- mentum, and we let them take that and run with it which resulted in Humboldt coming back to win the match,” Thompson said. “This team has come back from top teams like California State Los Angeles and Chico State, so I am excited to play a team like them.”

Despite the loss, Thompson had a very successful game for the last regular season game. She led all players in the match with 22 kills and a .432 hitting percentage and also added 3 blocks. Thompson has also been ranked in the top 10 scorers in the CCAA along with Kiki Leuteneker. Both have been huge factors in the Pioneers success this season, with their hitting efficiency.

The Pioneers will face San Bernardino at 7:30 p.m. in their first conference tournament game today in San Bernardino.