California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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Roster Turmoil Highlights the Start of Volleyball Season

Coming off the heels of a season with a 20-7 record and a second place standing in the CCAA, the Pioneer women’s volleyball team has their work cut out for them.

Only four players return from last season, sophomore Katie Allen, juniors Kitonna Offord and Jade Sanford and senior Leslie Ray—there will be 14 new players.

With the season right around the corner, the first few weeks of training have been rough as they scramble to find an identity amidst so much roster turnover.

“The challenge is in teaching a simple, systematic and disciplined style of play that most volleyball players have not experienced on their previous teams,” said Coach Jim Spagle. “Teaching our new athletes and to step out of their comfort zones is always challenging for athletes and coaches alike. My experience tells me this takes time.”

While the Pioneers lack roster stability, what they do posses this season is talent.

Allen and Offord were crucial players for the Pioneers last season, and new players such as juniors Kristen Neary and Nicole Boyle should be impacting players this season.

“Allen, should be a key player for this team’s success this season,” said assistant coach Kimberly Sordello. “She had a strong freshman year and now knows what it takes to achieve success.”

Unfortunately for the Pioneers, Allen has been battling an achilles tendon injury during training and has been slowed, but the sophomore is practicing through the injury and has enjoyed working with the talented newcomers.

“It has been really awesome working with so many new players,” she said. “We have so many talented athletes that help our team in some way.”

Joining Allen in attack will be Boyle, a transfer from Cypress College who has drawn rave reviews from her coaches so far.

“Boyle will be a force,” said Spagle. “[She] is a dynamic, poised athlete with quality volleyball, social and life skills.  One of the top athletes I have ever recruited to East Bay.”

However, someone will have to set up the outside hitting duo of Boyle and Allen. Currently, Neary has the inside track on the vacant setter position.

“[Neary] enrolled at East Bay last spring, and has had the opportunity to learn some of our offensive and defensive concepts prior to the other setters’ arrival this summer,” said Spagle. “She has excellent hands and sets with precise location.”

While it is likely that Boyle, Allen and Neary will be crucial to the Pioneers success this season, the starting spots are all still under contention as Spagle sorts through his plethora of new talent.

Making matters more difficult, several injuries have occurred to players in recent weeks.

“Never have I been two weeks into our season and been so confused on a starting group,” said Spagle. “It should all start falling into place here in the next week or so, though this could very well be one of those seasons that the starting lineup card may change on a weekly basis.”

Spagle has to figure out his lineup quickly, as the Pioneers playing in Arcata this weekend at the Humboldt State Tournament.

After this week, the schedule doesn’t get any easier as conference play begins at home with a game against CSU Los Angeles on September 9 and CSU Dominguez Hills on September 10.

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Roster Turmoil Highlights the Start of Volleyball Season