Volleyball squad struggles in southern California

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

The California State East Bay women’s volleyball team was handed their first two losses of California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference (CCAA) play and their third loss of the season over the weekend after a road trip to Southern California.

“I think this weekend we had a lot of very tough competition paired with a difficult schedule of traveling,” junior middle blocker Deja Thompson said. “Although that is no excuse to not perform, we definitely did not play our best game.”

Before this weekend the Pioneers were on were hot, they won eight of their last nine contests and were also on a four game winning streak.

That changed on Friday as the team was swept by California State San Bernardino (7-5 overall, 3-1 conference). It’s been a reoccurring theme for the Pioneers, every time they compete against the Coyotes; they get swept.

Last season, East Bay faced San Bernardino twice; once in conference play and again in the CCAA postseason tournament. In both of those meetings, the Pioneers were swept, it seems as if the Coyotes have figured out East Bay.

“San Bernardino is definitely a really good team,” Thompson said. “But so are we. We have demonstrated that we have the athleticism and capability to hold our own, we just have to have that mentality with every match, game, and point.”

San Bernardino got off to a strong start in the first set of the match on Friday, as they took the early 4-0 lead. East Bay eventually rallied back to tie the first set 9-9, and then took a 10-9 lead.

The Coyotes took a 16-11 lead and East Bay answered as they scored 4 straight points tying the score at 16.

San Bernardino would eventually gain the upper hand and won the set 26-24, taking a 1-0 lead in the match.

East Bay struggled in the second set as they tallied a hitting percentage of just .057, as they were unable to maintain a rhythm. The Coyotes countered with a .379 kill percentage, and they won the set 25-15, which gave them the 2-0 lead in the match.

The Pioneers came out strong in the third set and jumped out to a quick 5-2 advantage, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Coyotes.

East Bay and San Bernardino were tied 15-15 when the Coyotes took control of the set and pulled away from the Pioneers closing out the set 25-20 and the game 3-0..

Sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Ray had a double and lead the team in kills with 11 and digs with 15. Junior outside hitter Kiki Leuteneker had 9 kills while freshman setter Audrey Lamoureux and senior setter Katie Ireland both had 17 assists.

On Saturday the Pioneers lost their second straight game, this time to Cal Poly Pomona (6-6, 2-2) 3-1.

East Bay came out strong in the first set as they out hit the Broncos .234 to .157, and managed to pull of a 28-26 win. It seemed as if the Pioneers were on the road to bounce back after being swept the night before. However, that wasn’t the case.

The Broncos picked up the tempo in the next 3 sets versus the Pioneers. They won the second set 25-17 connecting on .359 percent of their kills compared to the Pioneers .119. Pomona also won the third set 25-13 with a kill percentage of .469 while East Bay tallied a .135 percentage.

“We have to stay consistent as a team the whole match plain and simple,” said Leuteneker. “Focusing on our side of the court with positive and loud energy so we can keep up with them.”

East Bay’s worst hitting percentage came in the 4th set at just .111.

Despite this low number, the Pioneers only lost by 5 points.

Leuteneker and Thompson both had strong performances for the Pioneers throughout the match. Leuteneker had 14 kills and 12 digs while Thompson had 3 blocks, and 13 kills.

Ireland had 37 assists in the game, totaling 1,278 assists in her career, which puts her in ninth place all time at East Bay.

The Pioneers are now 8-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play, which ties them for second place in the CCAA north division with California State Monterey Bay (8-4, 2-2).

On Friday East Bay will travel to Monterey to take on the Otters.

“We’ve played and beat Monterey once already this season,” Thompson said. “How hard we come out in attack and having intensity will be key.”

The Pioneers will then play at Humboldt State (2-7, 1-2) on Tuesday.

“We know we can beat both of these teams,” Leuteneker said. “It’s on us to show up.”