The Cal State San Bernardino volleyball team opened defense of its CCAA title in fine fashion and they did so against their biggest rival. The Coyotes throttled long-time nemesis UC San Diego 3-1 (25-16, 21-25, 25-20, 25-11) Friday at Coussoulis Arena in a battle of nationally ranked unbeatens.
No. 2 San Bernardino was the only team that lived up to its billing. The Coyotes hit .333 and limited the No. 4 Tritons to a .106.
Cal State (8-0) took control with a ferocious blocking effort midway through the third game. They finished with five solos and 12 block assists, six of those assists coming in the third game. That doesn’t include countless other balls they got their hands on to keep points going.
“We did a great job of pressuring them with our serving and our offensive attack and it allowed our blocking to dial in on the right hitters,”
Coyotes coach Kim Cherniss said. “We were able to use our size in the middle to our advantage and it gave us the momentum.”
The teams split the first two games. The Coyotes trailed 16-15 in the third when Megan Johnson blocked a shot by San Diego’s Julia Freidenberg. She teamed up with Morgan Carty for a block on the next point and the Coyotes were off and running.
Minutes later the Coyotes led 19-17 and extended that lead on another combo block — this one by Carty and Samantha Middleborn. A kill by Jane Chafeh made it 21-17 and another block by Middleborn and Carty made it 22-17. The Coyotes were not challenged again.
The fourth and final game was even more of a rout. Up 11-6, the Coyotes reeled off nine straight points on the serve of Ashtin Hall. Chafeh had three winners in that run with three other points coming on blocks.
Middleborn’s solo block on a tip by Elaine Chen gave the reigning West Region champion a commanding 20-6 lead.
Carty finished with five block assists and a solo while MIddleborn added four assists and a solo. Chafeh, who led all players with 21 kills and 11 digs, had two solos.
“It’s something we focused on all week,” Carty said of her team’s blocking prowess. “We really worked hard on hand position and being in the right place. Some of those points really got us going.”
Both teams struggled with serving as the Coyotes had 12 errors. San Diego had 16, including one on match point.
The Coyotes also got nine kills from Middleborn. They finished with a 47-323 advantage in digs with Chafeh followed in that column by Camille Smith with nine. Setter Sara Hoffman had 32 assists and seven digs.
“It’s huge for us to open with a win like this over a team in our region. It is something we can build on,” Cherniss said.
The Coyotes will host CCAA newcomer Cal State East Bay at 7 tonight. San Diego finishes a three-match road trip at Cal Poly Pomona, also at 7 p.m.