PHOTOS COURTESY OF ESTEBAN LEON
The California State University, East Bay volleyball team secured the North Division California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) title in a sweep against Sonoma State University (8-19 overall, 4-14 CCAA) on Saturday.
This was the final game of the regular season for the Pioneers but also, their third win in a row. The team had been struggling and lost three back-to-back games prior to this streak, but this bounce-back has put them in a great position for the postseason.
It was also CSUEB’s Senior Night and the team’s six seniors: outside Hitter Cassidy Caton, middle blocker Deja Thompson, outside Hitter Kiki Leuteneker, setter Katie Ireland, Middle Blocker Kathy McKiernan and outside hitter Lindsey Ray were all honored.
The SSU Seawolves gave CSUEB a good fight during the first set of Saturday’s match, where they led the game to start. CSUEB managed to respond by tying up the score at 16-16, managed to keep the lead for the remainder of the game and won the set 25-21.
The Pioneers maintained control throughout the second set as well and won 25-18. The third set was much the same after a back-and-forth rally up until the middle set ended. The two teams were tied 15-15 when CSUEB then turned a switch on and went on a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 21-15.
Sonoma State attempted to fight back but only managed to convert two extra points and CSUEB ultimately secured the 25-17 win and the North Division title.
The CSUEB volleyball team’s seniors also performed exceptionally well throughout the match. Deja Thompson became the fourth player in school history to reach 1,000 career kills—a number that will continue to grow in the postseason. Thompson has been a star all season and has been the first Pioneer to ever tally 300 blocks.
CSUEB’s Lindsey Ray added six blocks in the match and had seven kills and Katie Ireland contributed 29 assists and 13 digs. Ireland has been an assist machine as she is the first Pioneer to finish the season averaging at least 10 assists per set.
It is safe to say that the CSUEB Pioneers have some pretty incredible seniors on their roster and it will be a major shift for the program as they depart once the season ends.
This unit has led the program to three straight CCAA tournament appearances and strives to go further than they have in previous years for this year’s tournament.
Their record is currently 15-11 overall and 11-7 in conference play. They will face off against CSU, San Marcos (13-12, 9-8), whom they lost to, 3-1, earlier this season on Sept. 14.
CSUEB’s volleyball team’s growth and improvement has increased their possibility to take down the Cougars, especially considering both team’s records.
The two will play on Thursday, Nov. 8 in the first round of the 2018 CCAA tournament which will be held at Stanislaus State University. CSUEB could advance to the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 9 if they win this upcoming tournament.