Playoff run ends for Cal State volleyball team

The Cal State San Bernardino volleyball team has some pretty high standards. The Coyotes have won 10 CCAA titles in 12 years and six West Regional titles since 2003. They were the NCAA Division II national runner-up a year ago.

This year the Coyotes fell a bit short, losing in this year’s regional final 3-0 to No. 5-ranked Brigham Young-Hawaii late Saturday night in Laie. But this season has to be considered an overwhelming success nonetheless.

Why? Well the Coyotes graduated seven seniors from that national runner-up team, five of them starters or players that saw considerable playing time.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. So winning the always-tough CCAA by three games was noteworthy itself. The Coyotes probably needed to win one playoff match to meet expectations and they did. They beat Central Washington in the regional quarterfinal. That’s a team they were seeded to beat and if you’re the champion out of a strong conference you should beat the second-place team from another one. Mission accomplished.

They beat Grand Canyon in the regional semifinal which makes the season a success. It was a team seeded higher than the Coyotes in the regional and ranked higher in the national poll. It was also a team Cal State lost to earlier in the season.

Losing to BYU on that school’s home floor was no shame. The Coyotes held their own in the opening game and should have won it up 23-19, only to fall 27-25. They lost a spark after that, which is where having so many underclassmen likely came in to play.

Now they have a group of young players who have experience in the postseason. It’s a good place to start next season. The Coyotes graduate just three seniors – defensive specialist Jessica Girgle, whose playing time was limited but whose leadership was invaluable, setter Camille Smith, who is as tough as they come and is just the latest in the line of great setters to come through the school, and Merecedes Winchester, who  blossomed into a solid player in her first real opportunity.

With talented freshmen like Alexandra Torline, Brenna McIntosh and Ashley Solis among others, the Coyotes are going to be locked and loaded and ready to burst back on to the national scene.