Coyotes headed to nationals

The Cal State San Bernardino volleyball team finally delivered when it counted in the Division II West Region championship.

The Coyotes turned in a 25-18, 25-20, 25-14 win over a Cal Poly Pomona squad that had been playing phenomenal volleyball. That says something about how well the Coyotes played.

So now the Coyotes are headed to the Elite Eight. The site will be announced on Monday but Cal State has submitted a bid and the NCAA has appreciated the manner in which the school has hosted events in the past.

The NCAA likes to move the event around and a West Region team hasn’t hosted since Cal State did so in 2003. It was hosted by Washburn, Kan. last year.

The bracket is shaping up favorably for the Coyotes, especially if they get the right to host. Their quarterfinal opponent has been determined. It will be California (Penn.), which came out of what is traditionally a weak Atlantic Region.

There were a couple of upsets in the bottom half of the same bracket. And the Coyotes wouldn’t get defending national champion and current No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul until the final.

Leopards upset No. 1 Juniata

The University of La Verne volleyball team will play for the Division III national championship, rallying from a 2-1 deficit to produce a five-set triumph against top-ranked Juniata College.

La Verne took down the nation’s #1 team by delivering a 3-2 (20-25, 25-18, 13-25, 25-22, 17-15) triumph over Juniata in the NCAA Semifinal round Friday at the Shirk Center in Bloomington, Illinois. The Leopards will face either Emory or Ohio Northern in the final scheduled for a 7 pm CST start (5 pm PST) on Saturday .

With the win, the Leopards reach the championship match for the first time since 2001, when they captured the school’s third national title in volleyball.

Ironically, it was also La Verne’s first win over Juniata since the 2001 NCAA Semifinals when the Leos topped the Eagles in five games on Dec. 1, 2001 in Whitewater, Wisconsin. The victory also avenged a 3-1 defeat to Juniata earlier this season on Oct. 10 at La Verne.

Coyotes, Broncos to square off in regional final

One l ocal team is going to be ecstatic this time tomorrow night.

The other will be in tears.

The volleyball teams from Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State San Bernardino both took care of business, winning their respective West Region semifinals Friday night at Cal State’s Coussoulis Arena.

The third-seeded Broncos took care of Cal State Los Angeles – 25-12, 25-13, 17-25, 19-25, 15-13. They played as perfect as a team could play in the first two games, then had to hold on for dear life.

The top-seeded Coyotes took care of Chico State 25-19, 25-15, 25-21. They haven’t lost a game in either of their two matches and have the top player in the conference in Jessica Granados.

The teams split this season, each winning at home. And the Coyotes are 16-0 at home. So give them the edge. They have also been there before. This will be their ninth straight trip to the regional final.

Good for the Inland Empire.

First serve is 7 p.m.

Leopards move into national championship match

The University of La Verne volleyball team will play for the national championship, rallying from a 2-1 deficit to produce a five-set triumph against top-ranked Juniata College.

La Verne took down the nation’s #1 team by delivering a 3-2 (20-25, 25-18, 13-25, 25-22, 17-15) triumph over Juniata in the NCAA Semifinal round Friday at the Shirk Center in Bloomington, Illinois.   The Leopards will face either Emory or Ohio Northern in the final scheduled for a 7 pm CST start (5 pm PST) on Saturday .

With the win, the Leopards reach the championship match for the first time since 2001, when they captured the school’s third national title in volleyball.  Ironically, it was also La Verne’s first win over Juniata since the 2001 NCAA Semifinals when the Leos topped the Eagles in five games on Dec. 1, 2001 in Whitewater, Wisconsin.  The victory also avenged a 3-1 defeat to Juniata earlier this season on Oct. 10 at La Verne.

In a roller-coaster fifth set that produced 11 ties and five lead changes, La Verne took a 9-6 lead only to watch the Eagles run off four straight points to retake the lead at 10-9.  A Crista Jones kill followed by a Rebecca Villanueva service ace and Eagle ball handling error allowed the Leos to reclaim the advantage at 12-10.  It wouldn’t last as Juniata took the next three points – thanks in part to two La Verne hitting errors – to lead 13-12. 

The two teams traded the next two points and at 14-13, Juniata held a match point to reach its fourth final in five years.  But a Brianna Gonzales kill tied the contest at 14-14, and a Juniata attack error on the ensuing point gave La Verne a match point at 15-14.  A kill by National Player of the Year Amber Thomas denied the Leopards momentarily as the teams were again deadlocked at 15-15.  Gonzales returned the favor with a kill, and on the next point, an attack from the Eagles sailed out, giving La Verne a berth in the NCAA Championship match.

Statistically, Juniata hit .184 for the evening with the Leopards hitting .181.  Though the Eagles recorded 11 blocks compared to 7 for La Verne, the Leos held a 84-74 edge in digs while collecting 61 assists to 53 for the Eagles.

Juniata was poised to take the contest in four sets as a 6-2 run gave the Eagles a 17-13 advantage.  But La Verne battled its way to a decisive fifth set with a 6-1 run to grab a 19-18 lead.  Tied at 19-19, the Leos scored three straight points to seize control at 22-19, eventually claiming the set at 25-22 to earn a 2-2 set deadlock.

Jones finished with a team-high 18 kills while Gonzales totaled 16 kills in the win.  Jones hit .302 for the match with Gonzales also registering 22 digs to tie for match-high honors to also record a double-double.  Rebecca Villanueva recorded 10 kills while Ashley Morgado collected 8 kills.  Setter Yesenia Lopez directed the Leopard offense to the tune of 51 assists, also a match-high.

Juniata took a 1-0 lead with a 25-20 set win in the opening stanza.  The Eagles raced out to a 5-0 but the Leopards clawed back to draw even at 8-8.  The teams were knotted at 13-13 before the Eagles began their surge, going on a decisive 6-0 to grab a 22-16 they would not relinquish.  Though the Leopards hit .317 in the first set, they were hampered by four service errors along with a pair of blocking errors. 

The Leopards countered with a 25-18 triumph in the second frame, hitting .484 while limiting the Eagles to a .139 percentage.  Leading 11-10, La Verne used a 9-2 spurt to take a 20-12 lead as they cruised to victory.  Gonzales and Villanueva combined for 8 of the Leopards’ 15 kills in the set.

It was a different story in the third set as the Eagles dominated action, earning an emphatic 25-13 win to take a 2-1 set advantage.  Juniata led 10-5 early and held a 14-9 cushion before winning seven of the next nine points to hold an insurmontable 21-11 lead.  La Verne struggled offensively hitting -.079 in the fourth set as the Eagles recorded 6 blocks against the Leos.

Thomas, a two-time National Player of the Year and a four-time All-American, finished with a match-high 19 kills.  Erin Albert collected 13 kills while Megan Sollenberger totaled 22 digs to equal Gonzales for match-high honors.

Cal State’s Granados named best in CCAA

Cal State San Bernardino senior Jessica Granados repeated as Most Valuable Player in the tough CCAA. The announcement came on Thursday, the first day of the Division II West Regional at Cal State.

It is a well-deserved honor for a fine athlete.

Granados was clearly the best player. There were a couple of other players on other teams vwith more kills. But the Coyotes boasted perhaps the most balanced attack in the conference. Coach Kim Cherniss also used her backups for quite a few games against lesser teams.

Given the Coyotes success, Granados shoulod be a contender for national player of the year honors as well.

Four other Coyote players were also recognized. Sara Rice, Megan Haas and Sara Hoffman also made the first team while Ashtin Hall was selected to the second team.

Cal Poly Pomona had four players named with Vanessa Williams and Jenna Young on first team and Jasmine Davis and Anne-Marie Hoffmans placed on the second team. Williams earned player of the week honors twice and likely drew some consideration for player of the year.

Davis emerged as one of the most improved players in the entire conference.

Broncos advance to regional semifinals

The Cal Poly Pomona volleyball team advanced to the Division II West Region semifinals with a fairly easy 25-19, 25-12, 25-20 win over Western Oregon Thursday afternoon.

It was the Broncos playing Big Boy volleyball against the top team in an inferior conference. They won the first game, then used a 10-point run in the second game to take a lead that was never in jeopardy.

Jenna Young and Anne-Marie Hofmans had11 kills each and Vanessa Williams added eight with five block assists.

The Broncos (19-7) were superior in every facet of the game, hitting .237 to a miniscule .052 for the Wolves (22-3).

Next up for the Broncos is the Friday semifinal against the winner of the match just starting – UC San Diego vs. Cal State Los Angeles.

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Coyotes cruise to quarterfinal win

SAN BERNARDINO – Not only did the No. 2 Cal State San Bernardino
volleyball team take care of business – it did so quickly.

The Coyotes opened play in the Division II West Regional at
Coussoulis Arena with an impressive 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-12)
thumping of Pacific West Conference champion Brigham Young-Hawaii
Thursday night. The match took a little more than an hour.

The win sends the Coyotes (26-3) into tonight’s 7:30 semifinal
against Chico State (21-10), a 3-0 winner over Sonoma State. The 5
p.m. semifinal will pit Cal Poly Pomona against Cal State Los Angeles.

The Coyotes hit .506 for the match which could have been higher had
coach Kim Cherniss not used primarily reserves in the second half of
the third game. Cal State hit .625 in the opening game and was at
.600 in the through two games.

Perhaps the highest praise came from Seasiders coach Wilfred Navatla.

“I don’t know if we had played our best volleyball if we would have
beaten them,” he said. “They do everything well. Our strength is
our serving and our backcourt defense but that really didn’t show
because of how well they played.”

Setter Sara Hoffman spread the wealth around. Sara Rice had a
team-high 12 kills, one more than Jessica Granados. Jane Chafeh had
nine with no hitting errors for a .750 percentage.

The Coyotes aren’t worried that having such an easy match will take
an edge off their game heading into what will likely be tougher
matches.

“We’re pushing ourselves to get better,” Rice said. “That’s
getting us ready. We’re worried about doing what we do the best we
can.”

The Coyotes wrapped up the first game in a crisp 25 minutes. Cal
State was never challenged, scoring 13 of the first 19 points and
going up 13-6 on a kill by Granados, one of six she had in the game.

The host team outscored the Seasiders 12-8 the rest of the game which
ended on a spike by Rice off a quickset from Hoffman.

The second game was even more lopsided. It was tied at seven but the
Coyotes reeled off 11 straight points, three in a row coming on
winners by Chafeh. The run also included two straight block winners
from the combination of Chafeh and Samantha Middleborn. Cal State
eventually put it away on a spike by Granados.

Cal State opened a commanding 15-5 lead in the final set. Cherniss
substituted freely the rest of the way, using a total of 14 players.

The Coyotes held BYU to a .129 hitting percentage but the visitors
hit .357 in the opening game. The Seasiders only managed a .108 in
the second game and an even-more woeful minus .028 in the third.

Tonight’s match will be the third of the season between the Coyotes
and the Wildcats. Cal State won both regular season meetings 3-0.
Cherniss was impressed with how well Chico played earlier in the
night.

“We’re playing inspired. They’re playing inspired. It should be a
great match,” Cherniss said.

Coyotes get point guard eligible

The Cal State San Bernardino men’s basketball team is on its way to Seattle for a pair of games against in-region foes. The good news is that point guard Devin Montgomery is on the plane too.

Montgomery missed the team’s regular season opener against Alaska-Fairbanks Sunday because he had not yet been cleared by the NCAA. Montgomery played in a summer league that wasn’t sanctioned by the NCAA so he basically had to have his amateurism reinstated.

That had been in the works for some time but Cal State finally got the go-ahead just ibn time for Montgomery to make the flight.

The Coyotes will play Western Washington Friday and host Seattle Pacific on Saturday. Both are traditionally top contenders in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The games are important because one of the main criteria for postseason play is record against in-region foes.

Now when they finally get Brandon Brown in the mix . . .

Broncos win volleyball quarter

By Michelle Gardner

Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO – The top team in the Great Northwest Athletic
Conference was no match for Cal Poly Pomona.

The third-seeded Broncos advanced to the semifinals of the Division
II West Regional with a convincing 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-20) win over
fifth-seeded Western Oregon Thursday afternoon at Coussoulis Arena.
It is the 15th playoff appearance for the Broncos but the first win
in the postseason since 1997.

Next up for Cal Poly (19-7) is tonight’s 5 p.m. semifinal against Cal
State Los Angeles which upset second-seeded UC San Diego 3-2 (24-26,
25-19, 26-24, 25-23, 15-13).

“You go back to CCAA play and we have had a lot of battles where we
had to come through and show a fighting spirit,” Broncos coach Rosie
Wegrich said. “That is something this team has shown this year and
it showed again today. The conference really helped prepare us for
this.”

The Broncos posted a .237 hitting percentage while limiting the
Wolves to a .052, including a minus-0.28 in the second game. They
tallied 10 team blocks – one solo and 18 assisted.

Counterpart Brad Saindon of Western Oregon (22-3) was impressed.

“We didn’t play well and they played very well. That isn’t a good
combination for us.” he said. “I was impressed with their
blocking. They’re physical and very imposing. We had 23 hitting
errors and that was uncharacteristic for us. But that was due to what
they did at the net.”

Cal Poly, ranked 18th nationally, led from the first serve. It led by
as many as seven in the opening game at 19-12. It got a set point on
a kill by Vanessa Williams and wrapped it up seconds later when
6-foot-3 Wolves standout tipped a ball in the net.

But it was a 10-point run in the second game that gave the Broncos a
lead that was never challenged. The Wolves, ranked 20th nationally,
were still in striking distance at 11-8 when Rafaela Rosa went to the
service line for nine straight points, three coming on winners by
Willams.

The Broncos converted their first set point of the game on a tip by
Jenna Young.

Despite the big lead, the Broncos never felt they were in the clear.

“In volleyball the momentum can change so quickly,” Young said.
“You never know when something crazy is going to happen. But we felt
good about the way we were playing.”

The third game stayed tighter longer. It was even 10 times, the last
at 14-all. Young unleashed a service ace that gave the Broncos a
23-18 lead. They wrapped it up a few minutes later on another Western
Oregon hitting error.

The offensive attack was balanced with Young and Anne-Marie Hofmans
each putting down 11 kills, with five of Young’s coming in the third
game. Williams contributed eight but managed a team-high five block
assists. Setter Jasmine Davis tallied 34 assists and Rosa led in digs
with 15.

The Wolves were led by Bennett with 12 kills but she needed 34
attacks and only managed a percentage of .088.

This will be the third meeting between Pomona and Cal State Los
Angeles. The two split during the regular season wit each team wining
at home.

La Verne women advance to national semis

No. 4 University of La Verne advanced to the Division III national
semifinal, besting unranked New Paltz State 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-26)
in quarterfinal play Thursday at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington,
Ill.

The Leopards (26-2) will play No. 1 ranked Juniata (35-4) in today’s
semifinal with the winner getting the chance to play for a national
championship.

“It was nice to go and get this one out of the way,” La Verne coach
Don Flora said. “It was a matchup we definitely thought we should
win. We took care of business on our side of the net the way we
needed to.”

La Verne, which last made the national semifinal in 2005, was led by
senior outside hitter Brianna Gonzales who tallied 17 kills and 10
digs. Junior Crista Jones added nine kills while junior Rebecca
Villanueva contributed seven with 11 digs.

Junior setter Yesenia Lopez was the catalyst of the offense with 36
assists and eight digs and Courtney Boyd reeled off six service aces.

The Leopards are familiar with today’s opponent, having faced Juniata
earlier this season in a tournament they hosted. Juniata won that
battle 3-1

“We are excited about getting another chance to play them,” Flora
added. “We do what we can to see as many quality teams as possible
because of this. We hope to see tham again when it really counts.”

Juniata advanced with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-22) win over
Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the first of the four quarterfinals Thursday.
The Jaguars got 12 kills from Amber Thomas and 11 from Erin Albert.