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Passing the pack: Women’s volleyball aims to bump up

Nick Reddy

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Player Shannon Boling gets ready to spike on the court while Head Coach Cody Hein directs the drill. Photo credit: Sam Barker

Those familiar with the NBA know how much of a disparity there is between the top tier teams and the lowly bottom feeders in the league. Some teams are vying for a championship and some are stuck on the bottom rung of the ladder.

Then there are those left out of playoff contention, albeit a distinct step above the cellar dwellers. The 2015 Chico State women’s volleyball team has its sights set on escaping mediocrity and improving upon the 2014 season’s 13-13 overall record and 11-11 conference record. Building consistency would also be a point to emphasize this fall. The Wildcats alternated wins and loses for the last 11 matches of the 2014 campaign, while having their longest winning and losing streaks stand at three apiece.

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Photo credit: Sam Barker

The ‘Cats are set to play a total of 30 matches, four more than last year, thanks to two more non-conference matches and the addition of Cal State San Marcos to the California Collegiate Athletic Conference. However, the ‘Cats will not play their season opener until Tuesday, September 15. The squad will have 10 matches under its belts by then as they take on Cal State East Bay in Acker Gym at 7 p.m. All home matches begin at 7 p.m. and are free with a student ID.

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Head Coach Cody Hein and Assistant Coach Tommy Gott discuss the next drill with volleyball player, Natalie Nordahl. Photo credit: Sam Barker

Can’t-miss-home-matches include a battle with defending West Region Champions, Sonoma State, on Friday, September 25, and defending CCAA champion, CSU San Bernardino, on Friday, November 6. Both the Seawolves and Coyotes are ranked among the top 25 teams in the country according to the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II preseason poll. Senior Night is slated for Tuesday, November 10 against San Francisco State.

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The Chico State women's volleyball team warms up for practice. Photo credit: Sam Barker

With only two seniors on the roster, 13th-year head coach Cody Hein has his hands full with bringing seven new recruits, five first-years and two junior transfers, into the fold to join the 10 returning letterwinners.

“It’s about our veterans teaching them our ways and being good role models,” said Hein of his new players getting up to game speed. “They’re all doing a good job.”

Hein named several players as to who he needs to step up and lead the team this fall. At the helm of the team is junior setter Torey Thompson, a two-year starter. The 2014 CCAA Setter of the Year, two-time First Team All-CAA and Second Team Daktronics All-West Region selection holds the keys to the ‘Cats offense. Thompson led the conference in assists and assists per set last fall.

But before Thompson can start handing out assists left and right, she needs her teammates on the court as well.

“We need to pass the ball. Our defensive specialists, sophomores Anu Munkhtur and Shannon Cotton, junior transfer Jaclyn Kreymborg and freshman Natalia Betancourt, need to step up and pass well right away,” said Hein.

“The only way we’re going to be good is if we pass well,” Hein added.

On the other end of Thompson’s sets are a bevy of quality hitters for the ‘Cats. Senior outside hitter Shannon Boling, junior opposite hitter Natalie Nordahl and sophomore outside hitter Olivia Mediano will all be counted on to pile up points. Hannah Wilkins and Ashton Kershner will look to replace the now graduated middle hitter, Lindsay Quigley.

Consistency is the key for this season. Stringing wins together will be needed to place the ‘Cats in the top eight and earn a berth to the inaugural NCAA Championship playoff in La Jolla this November.

“Modeling consistent behavior, we need to duplicate all the right things that we do. That means doing the right things in practice now and then continuing to do so,” Hein said.

Nick Reddy can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NickIsReddy.

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Passing the pack: Women’s volleyball aims to bump up