Coyotes, Broncos to do battle in volleyball

Cal State San Bernardino’s volleyball team, ranked tops in the country, faces a gauntlet of tough foes this week, all within Southern California.

First up is No. 20 Cal Poly Pomona, which will invade Coussoulis Arena for a 7 p.m. showdown tonight. On Friday, the Coyotes travel to RIMAC Arena to battle long-time nemesis UC San Diego, ranked 16th.  To finish the week, Cal State returns home Saturday to face Cal Baptist, the No. 2 team in NAIA.

“It makes for a tough week because it’s every single day, a practice or a tough match. There is no break,” coach Kim Cherniss said. “That’s where I am happy I have so much depth in case the fatigue sets in. “Those are all teams we get pretty pumped up for.”

Both the Coyotes (11-0, 4-0) and Broncos (7-2, 4-0) are coming off strong showings last weekend. The two notched wins over the same foes, the only difference being that Cal State swept Chico State 3-0 while Cal Poly needed five games.

The two are part of a three-way tie for first in the CCAA, with the other party being surprising Sonoma State (11-1, 4-0).

Cal State leads the CCAA in most offensive categories, including hitting percentage. The Coyotes are hitting an impressive .302 as a team, with three players in the top six individually. The trio is led by senior Sara Rice, who is at .398 overall with a whopping .588 in conference matches alone.

Senior Jessica Granados, the reigning conference and region player of the year, is second at .344 with junior Ashtin Hall sixth at .272.

Cal State also has the conference leader in assists in junior Sara Hoffman and the top performer in digs in senior Meghan Haas.

Cal Poly is sixth, hitting .191 as a unit. Senior Anne-Marie Hofmans is ninth in the conference in kills at 2.95 per game.

Veteran Cal Poly Pomona coach Rosie Wegrich, who notched her 300th career win at the school on Saturday, knows the firepower of the Cal State offense, but insists her biggest concern is on her own side of the net.

“It’s probably 80-20, with 80 percent of your focus on your own offense and what you’re doing,” she said. “You have to worry about your own side of the net first.”

The Broncos strength has always been blocking. That is again the case with Cal Poly third in that department, one spot ahead of Cal State. Standouts in the middle are seniors Vanessa Williams and Allie Newman. Junior Jasmine Davis, one of the Broncos two setters, has also been a top blocker.

The Broncos will also play San Diego this week, heading down there Saturday, the day after the Coyotes play there.