Toro’s women’s volleyball team is predicted to finish 8th in a recent CCAA article. Photo Courtesy of CSUDH Athletics
By Taylor Ogata, Staff Writer and Chaz Kawamura, Senior Editor
The California Collegiate Athletic Association coach’s poll predicted the California State University, Dominguez Hills volleyball team to finish in a tie for eighth place in the standings for 2021.
Based on the votes, the Toros received 49 points that put them in a tie with Chico State. Behind them is California State University, East Bay (33 points), California State University, Monterey Bay (26 points) and Humboldt State University (21 points) respectively.
A recent CCAA article published in August made predictions for the upcoming season, a process that has been done for the past five years. The predictions unanimously leave the Coyotes of California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) as the CCAA champions for this season. That means the Coyotes are predicted to be going for their fifth consecutive conference championship in a row since the tournament started in 2015.
Here at home, CSUDH is looking to strike a comeback and surprise voters by showing that they are capable of competing against those in the top. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own team per CCAA rules.
“I don’t really pay too much attention to the polls,” said Head Coach Jennifer Adeva. “After being off a year, players are excited to be back, and we’re playing like we were months ago.”
CSUSB was predicted to win the CCAA championship with 121 points, followed by California State University, Los Angeles (111 points), California State University, San Marcos (80 points), Sonoma State and San Francisco State (78 points each), Stanislaus State (76 points) and Cal Poly Pomona (70 points).
“I think it’s really going to take a lot of hard work and effort,” said Nicole Peery, an Outside Hitter for the team. “We just have to believe in ourselves and hopefully then the season will be better.”
There is about a 30 point difference between the middle seven teams, which means that this season is predicted to be really competitive. With good non-conference teams playing the Toros and two regular season tournaments at the start of the season, it could gear this Toro volleyball team to new heights.
Regardless of the poll, one can argue that this Toro team has a chance at making a good run in the CCAA, as they were able to play well against most of the top teams in this competitive conference in their last full season. With many returning players coming back for a redemption season, it could be the push the team needs.
“We have lost a lot of players,” Peery said. “We just have to be comfortable with each other and keep the chemistry within our team.”
The team has a good amount of talented freshmen as well looking to make their university debut after waiting for two years to step on a college court. Freshmen like Jessi Diekmann and Gabbie Silva are waiting for their first season, and seniors are getting ready to give it their all for one last ride, who knows what is in store for this season.
“Gabbie [Silva] is doing well,” Adeva said. “She is among the leaders in digs per set, and she’s getting better all the time.”
“They have also fit in with [Coach Adeva]’s system well,” Peery said. “We also have to mentor the younger players since we have been in their shoes before and help them follow in our footsteps.”
Although the Toros had a rough start losing the first three matches of the season to Western Oregon University, Western New Mexico University, and Concordia University, there is hope that CSUDH star players like Peery and Jenna Sandall, who have been recording a combined 42 kills in the first game can assist in leading the team to victory.
“They just have to stay healthy,” Adeva said of them. “They came into the season in good shape, so they just need to stay that way.”
After being two and a half semesters off, the players are finally coming back to form.
“I stayed in touch with them on Zoom,” Adeva said. “We also had a lot of talks about the protests and whatever else happened throughout 2020. It was a sad time but we were able to keep each other happy.”
“We’ve also played volleyball for a long time,” Peery said. “We have to keep bonding and hopefully we will be better.”
The CCAA tournament will be reformatted this year. There are no more divisions, and the teams will be seeded based on their record, regardless of which division they are in. That could bring up a huge opportunity for CSUDH Women’s Volleyball.