Coyotes throttle No. 1 team

The Cal State San Bernardino volleyball team made its 2008 debut and what a debut it was. The team trounced defending Division II national champion Concordia-St. Paul 25-19, 25-23 and 25-17. And it really wasn’t that close.

The Bears started the season ranked No. 1 while the Coyotes entered at No. 4. What was impressive was that the Coyotes defeated a strong opponent without playing their best. They were good, especially for the first match of the season. But they still didn’t play at the level they have played at in the past. But they’re well on their way.

Coach Kim Cherniss used 12 players, all of whom contributed. Beaumont native Jessica Granados was the star with 23 kills on an impressive hitting percentage of .486. It is even more noteworthy given the quality of the opposition.

Yucaipa High graduate Sara Rice had nine kills. Sara Hoffman had 40 assists and senior libero Meghan Haas anchored the defense with 14 digs.

Next up is a 7:30 p.m. match Friday against Shippensburg (Penn.). It will be the last of four matches on the day.

Should the Coyotes win all three matches this weekend they should move up to the top spot in the next poll early next week.

Yucaipa duo leads Cal State volleyball team

By Michelle Gardner

Staff Writer


When opportunity knocked, both Sara Rice and Ashtin Hall answered the door. Now the two former Yucaipa High School standouts are starters for a Cal State San Bernardino volleyball team expected to contend for the Division II national championship.

The Coyotes, 27-3 a year ago, open the 2008 campaign this week, hosting a six-team tournament that starts tonight at Coussoulis Arena. The No. 4 Coyotes open against reigning national champion and current No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re very excited about our potential,” Coach Kim Cherniss says. “We have high expectations. We have a great core of returning players and we have some talented freshmen. Maybe the best class we have had since I’ve been here.”

The veteran cast is bolstered by the two former Citrus Belt League standouts.

Rice, a 6-foot senior middle blocker, arrived in 2005. She had planned to attend Golden West Community College but when Portala George went down with a knee injury, Cherniss needed another backup.

Rice was going to redshirt but when a second middle blocker also sustained a knee injury, that plan changed. She ended up playing a handful of matches which set the stage for a stellar sophomore campaign and second-team All-Conference honors.

Then came an even better junior season in which she earned first-team All-Conference and Pacific West Region honorable mention honors. She was fourth on the team in kills (190) but boasted an impressive attack percentage of .384 as well as a team-high 75 blocks.

“My confidence has just grown each season,” said Rice, a 21-year-old business major. “When I played some as a freshman it made me realize I could compete at that level.”
A key injury also paved the way for Hall, whose opportunity could not have come in a more pressure-packed situation.

The 5-11 junior outside hitter committed to the Coyotes in November of her senior year of high school. She also considered Division I UC Riverside and NAIA Point Loma but opted for Cal State after touring all three schools and considering the facilities and level of play at each.

She didn’t choose Cal State because her former high school teammate was there, but called it an “added bonus.”

Hall played little during her true freshman season in 2006. The time she did see came against lesser foes.

Then Lisa Dogonyaro, the lone senior on the squad, sustained a knee injury in the regular season finale at Cal State Los Angeles. Hall went from being a seldom-used sub to a starter on a team with national championship aspirations.

“I remember that match when she got hurt. My whole frame of mind changed,” said Hall, 20. “It was definitely very stressful but I tried to take it as a chance to prove myself.”

Other teams went right at the untested rookie but Hall was up for the challenge.

“You never know what is going to happen,” Cherniss said. “You have to be prepared for that situation and that comes with working hard in practice. It’s my job as a coach to see that my players are ready when they’re called on.”

Hall started 29 of 30 matches as a sophomore and recorded 235 kills, including a career-high 17 in the Pacific Region final against Western Washington. She was rewarded with a spot on the all-conference second team.

The Coyotes will be looking for their sixth conference title in eight years and have advanced to the regional championship match nine straight years. Last year’s loss was one of the most disappointing because it came in three straight games on their home floor to a team it had already beaten during the season.

Both players say the Coyotes didn’t go into that matchup with the same intensity they would have had the opponent been long-time nemsis UC San Diego, which lost to Western Washington in the semifinal.

“It was a humbling experience,” Rice said. “They took advantage of our weaknesses in a way no other team did.”

Added Hall: “We have to try and put it aside but at the same time learn from it so we don’t make the same mistake again if we’re in that position.”

Broncos win season opener in Hawaii

Seniors Vanessa Williams (Riverside) and Anne-Marie Hofmans (Glendora) were the catalysts Thursday night for Cal Poly Pomona, which defeated Chaminade 3-0 in the 2008 season opener for the Broncos.


            Williams led the Broncos with 11 kills (11-3-18) and had a .444 attack percentage in the 25-19, 28-26, 25-16 victory, while Hofmans added eight kills (8-1-15) with a .467 attack percentage and a team-high 11 digs.


            “Annie played the type of match that we’ve been waiting for in her career,” Bronco coach Rosie Wegrich said. “She had a sound all-round match and really played a big role in helping us earn a season-opening victory. It was a solid performance all the way around.”


            The Broncos fired on all cylinders in the match as they earned a .281 attack percentage (41 kills, 14 errors and 96 total attacks). Seniors Allie Newman (Redlands) and Jenna Young (Arcadia) each had six kills and Young led the Broncos in service aces with three. Senior Rocio Vargas (Baldwin Park) led the Broncos on the block with two solos and four assists. She also had four kills.


            The Broncos return to the court this afternoon with a 4:30 p.m. (Pacific Time) match against No. 14 Nebraska-Kearney, and then face host Brigham Young-Hawaii at 10:30 p.m. On Saturday, they play against Hawaii Pacific to round out the trip to nation’s 50th state.


            Courtney Lorusso led the Silverswords with 10 kills.

CMS football has a strong turnout

It may be early in fall practice but veteran head coach Rick Candaele has reason to be optimistic. He has 83 players out – the most he has had in his 14 years at the helm.

The Stags are coming off a 3-6 season which may not look like much. But CMS proved a formidable foe much of the way. It lost to then-defending SCIAC champion Occidental 28-27. If it weren’t for a couple of glitches in the kicking game, the Stags win it and send shockwaves throughout the country since Oxy was nationally ranked at the time.

The team also had a rash of injuries at the end of last season that no team could have overcome.

CMS was young last season, particularly in the skill positions. Those players are all back, a year older, wiser and stronger.

It should make for a good conference battle, with Pomona-Pitzer also bringing back much of what was a young team. La Verne should also be better with coach Andy Ankeney having his first year under his belt.

Of course conference juggernauts Oxy and Redlands remain the teams to beat. And Cal Lutheran returns some key players. It should make for an interesting season.

Redlands water polo team earns another ranking

The University of Redlands men’s water polo team received its second ranking in a week’s time with a sixth-place ranking in the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) preseason coaches’ poll with a point total of 109, according to a release yesterday by the WWPA. No Division III institution received a better 2008 preseason ranking in the WWPA.


Loyola Marymount University earned the top spot with 168 points, including 11 first-place votes. UC San Diego trailed closely behind with the second-highest point total of 150.


Other Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) schools in the WWPA, all of which were represented on the preseason poll, include Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (seventh), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (eighth), Cal Lutheran University (ninth), Occidental College (11th), Whittier College (12th) and the University of La Verne (14th).


Last week, Redlands received the No. 1 national ranking among Division III men’s water polo programs, according to the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA).


Compiling a 2007 overall record of 22-14 and a 9-1 SCIAC tally, the Bulldogs finished No. 1 in the nation among Division III institutions. Redlands finished sixth in the WWPA tournament, defeating Pomona-Pitzer Colleges but falling at the hands of eventual champion Loyola Marymount University and UC San Diego.


The Bulldogs travel to San Diego in September to start the 2008 season where they will compete in the UC San Diego Triton Invitational. Redlands squares off against Long Beach State at 10:30 a.m. and UC San Diego at 1:30 p.m. to open the invitational on Sept. 6.


Newman looks to lead Cal Poly volleyball team

Cal Poly Pomona volleyball standout Allie Newman admits being happy that she wasn’t given much of a warning when called on in a critical match late last season. She had just finished warmups and thought she would be taking a seat at the end of the bench like she had for the duration of the season. But then-assistant coach Vinh Nyugen informed her she would be starting.

“I’m glad they didn’t tell me before or I would have had way too much time to get nervous,” Newman said. “It was better I didn’t have time to think about it.”

The 5-foot-11 middle blocker delivered 13 kills and 11 block assists, helping the Broncos to a school-record 40 block assists in a five-game upset of nationally ranked UC San Diego.
She also tallied eight kills and 10 block assists in a Pacific Regional semifinal loss to Cal State Los Angeles.

Her showing at the end of the season has set her up for more significant playing time this year, especially with the departure of two other middle blockers — most notably All-American Antoinette Kathol.

The Broncos open the new season with four matches in Hawaii, the first coming Thursday against Chaminade.

The court time has been a long time coming for the former Redlands East Valley High School and San Bernardino Valley College standout.

“We always knew she could play,” veteran Broncos coach Rosie Wegrich said. “It was just a matter of when she would get that chance. She had worked very hard in practice and deserved that opportunity. We’re looking forward to bigger things from her this season.”

Newman, now 22, has been a later bloomer. She didn’t play until her sophomore season in high school after her family moved to Southern California from Pullman, Wash.

“It was my mom and dad that encouraged me to play,” she recalled. “We had just moved and they thought it would be a good way to make friends because all the girls on the team seemed nice.”

She spent her sophomore year on the junior varsity just learning the basics. She followed that up with two years on the varsity. The idea of playing for a four-year school was appealing but she wasn’t quite ready. So she opted for SBVC, then coached by current athletic director Dave Rubio.

Newman was a quick study, earning All-Foothill Conference honors both years there, highlighted by a Most Valuable Player selection in 2004.

“She has a great work ethic and she has athletic ability,” Rubio said. “She just needs time to develop. It was the experience and technique, especially her footwork, that were lacking.”

The decision on a four-year school was even more of a challenge. The most obvious choice would have been Cal State San Bernardino, Cal Poly’s conference rival. Not only does it boast great tradition in the sport but her father, Eric, is a marketing instructor there.

But that’s exactly why she chose not to go there.

“I wanted to make my own name somewhere else,” she said.
Newman actually recruited the Broncos more than they recruited her. She sent Wegrich a letter and the veteran coach invited her to a tryout which several of Newman’s SBVC teammates also attended.

But it hasn’t been easy. Newman redshirted her first season because of an elbow injury that later healed without surgery. It turned out being a blessing in disguise.

“I learned a lot by watching,” she said. “I don’t think I would be playing today if I didn’t have that year to watch and learn. And I appreciate playing a lot more now.”

She played in 16 matches (39 games total), including the two pivotal ones at the end of the season, totaling 48 kills and 30 total blocks.

She has lofty goals for her final go-round including winning a conference title and dethroning the juggernaut that is Cal State.

“This is it. I want to make it a great year,” said Newman, who would like to go into sports marketing. “We have some great new players that have fit right in so I think we can do it.”

SBVC and Chaffey football rivalry ends for the moment

College football season is fast approaching. While much of the attention is focused on the Division I programs such as USC and UCLA, area coaches are also putting their teams through the paces.

The junior college season will have a competely different feel to it, thanks to a new conference alignment and playoff structure. Area coaches like the new structure. The unfortunate thing is it also means a temporary end to the rivalry between Chaffey and San Bernardino Valley College.

The two had long been rivals in the Foothill Conference. Players from the teams know each other from their high school days. The coaches are friends – SBVC’s Pat Meech has coached with Chaffey’s Carl Beach.

The fact that they won’t be playing each other is a shame, especially because they are only 20 or so minutes apart. SBVC, now competing in the Mountain Conference of the American Division, will play non-conference games against Riverside, College of the Desert and Saddleback.

Chaffey, now in the tougher Central Conference of the National Division, plays non-conference contests against Grossmont, Mt. San Jacinto, Southwestern and Antelope Valley – all significantly longer trips.

The new alignment was supposed to address geography and natural rivals but that certainly doesn’t appear to be the case here.

Schools were allowed to submit a list of three teams it wanted to keep on its schedule. Meech listed Chaffey first and Beach listed SBVC first. So why that game wasn’t kept is a mystery to both Beach and Meech.

We can only hope that when the new structure is examined again in two years the powers that be see fit to put that game back on the schedule. It’s nice that SBVC will play Riverside but the absence of a game against Chaffey still leaves a void.

Victor Valley women first to start the season

The Victor Valley College women’s soccer team is the first fall sports team to begin its season. The Rams, defending champion in the Foothill Conference, will play a 4 p.m. match at San Diego Miramar Tuesday.

Then comes a three-game set at Yuba against Northern California foes. Coach Mike Bradbury’s team makes its home debut Sept. 6-7 in its six-team tournament, including defending state champion Cerritos and Grossmont.

Victor Valley graduated its three leading scorers so it will rely more heavily on defense.

“We’re definitely big and strong in the middle,” said Bradbury, who will also be coaching the school’s men’s team. “It will be a little bit different look than we have had in the past but that’s junior college. You’re always going to have a lot of turnover.”

Chaffey faces tough tune-up

Area college football fans can get their first look at the 2008 Chaffey Panthers this week. Coach Carl Beach’s team will play an exhibition scrimmage at 11 a.m. Friday at Grigsby Field against Palomar College.

Beach said he has played that foe the last several years in a practice game.

“They’re usually a very good team with some size,” he said. “You always want to play someone that is pretty competitive so you can see how you stack up. And it’s a not a team in our conference or one that we’re going to see during the season. It just seems to work for both of us so why change it.”

There will be no admission charge.

Cal State men pick up game

Cal State San Bernardino men’s basketball coach Jeff Oliver has a tough time getting non-conference games. That’s what happens when you’re good. And he REALLY has a problem getting teams to come and play the Coyotes here at Coussoulis Arena.

So he got a bit lucky when he was able to schedule a game with Alaska-Fairbanks, a Division II team that plays out of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Fairbanks traditionally played in the Great Alaska Shootout but that event was canceled, leaving Fairbanks scrambling to fill its last few dates.

So Fairbanks was looking for games, any games. It will trek to Southern California for back-to-back games, the first coming Saturday, Nov. 15th at Dominguez Hills and then the next day against the Coyotes.

It will be good scheduling for the Coyotes who are a tough opponent, especially on the second part of a back-to-back. The other bonus is that the game will count toward the Coyotes always-important in-region ranking.