Coyotes headed to Minnesota

The Cal State San Bernardino volleyball team had been hoping to take a shot at a national title on its home floor but the No. 2 Coyotes will be hitting the road after all.

The privilege of hosting the Elite Eight Dec. 4-6 was awarded to Central Region champion Concordia-St. Paul, the defending national champion and current No. 1 according to the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Cal State submitted a bid to host and athletic director Kevin Hatcher thought his team had a good shot at getting the nod but took the news in stride.

“We would be disappointed if we were No. 1 and didn’t get the bid. That’s the only way to look at it,” he said. “We just have to make sure and bring our winter clothes.”

The NCAA likes to move the event to a different region each year. The Coyotes hosted in 2003. Sites since then include Barry University in Miami (2004), Nebraska-Kearney (2005), West Florida (2006) and Washburn University in Kansas (2007).

“From a cost standpoint its easier if they have it somewhere more in the middle,” Coyotes coach Kim Cherniss said. “We’re on one extreme so that probably works against is. I’m sure the Eastern schools feel the same way.”

The Coyotes (28-3) polished off local rival Cal Poly Pomona 3-0 Saturday night in the West Region title match to earn a spot in the national quarterfinal for the third time in the last seven years.

In 2003 the Coyotes lost the semifinal to Concordia-St. Paul. A year later they were eliminated in the quarterfinal by Nebraska-Kearney.

The eight-team draw was also finalized. The Coyotes quarterfinal foe will be Atlantic Region champion California University of Pennsylvania (40-1). The No. 17 Vulcans will also be playing in the Elite Eight for the third time. They lost the quarterfinal to Concordia last season.

The Atlantic Region typically has not been one of the most competitive but Cherniss isn’t taking its representative lightly.

“The word is champion. They’re a champion,” she said. “Anyone that wins a championship is playing their best volleyball at this time of the season. You have to respect that.”

Other quarterfinals will pit No. 8 Truman (32-7) against unranked Nova Southeastern (24-1), No. 3 Grand Valley State (32-3) against unranked Armstrong Atlantic (26-8) and unranked New Haven (31-3) against host Concordia-St. Paul (34-1).

If the Coyotes were to win their quarterfinal they would meet the Truman-Nova winner in the semifinal.

Concordia is the only team in the field the Coyotes have played this season and it was Cal State handing the Bears a 3-0 loss in the season opener for both teams. But that match was played at Coussoulis Arena where Cal State went 17-0.

The Coyotes were 4-0 on a neutral court and wouldn’t see Concordia unless both teams advanced to the championship match.

Cherniss said having to make a road trip won’t change the way her team practices, just the schedule. The Coyotes 20-member traveling party will leave on Tuesday.

“There is still game maintanance things we want to work on so we can keep playing at the level we have been playing at. I have been very pleased with the way the girls have worked and gone about their business.”