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Wildcat teams prepare for CCAA

Chico State women’s soccer charges onto the field during their first home game of the season. Photo credit: Aubrie Coley

Sept. 16 marks the first day of the California Collegiate Athletic Association series for most of the teams at Chico State. Athletes are able to get their feet wet during the preseason games and through their insight, they can determine if they feel prepared for CCAA contention.

Men’s Soccer team

The men’s soccer team prepares to play against San Francisco State as its first opponent in the CCAA. Despite having a bumpy 1-2-1 preseason, the ‘Cats have maintained their morale. Senior forward Rajaee DeLane noticed the changes the team has made as a result of the preseason and said he has faith in the team’s ability to win.

“Honestly we’re feeling confident, the team is taking it in one game at a time and we are taking a fresh look at each team,” DeLane said.

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Forward Rajaee DeLane gets into position to receive a pass during a Chico State home game. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell

To prepare for the CCAA and for the season in general, DeLane explained his dedication to training and maintaining focus on the field.

“I spend a lot of time with yoga and fitness. I’m also putting extra time to focus on all the extra schoolwork and priorities, on and off the field, to be there for the team,” DeLane said.

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The Chico State men's soccer team huddles around their coach during half time. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell

The men’s soccer team had a 5-4-3 conference record last year but had a similar result in the preseason. The team’s changes and incorporation of freshman into its lineup will be important for the ‘Cats success.

Women’s Soccer team

The women’s soccer team also starts the CCAA conference against San Francisco State and faced an undefeated preseason record of 4-0-1.

Junior forward Pooja Patel saw the team’s preseason record as an accurate statement of how the team will do in the CCAA series.

“The competition we’ve seen so far in preseason has been a good test for what’s to come in the CCAA,” Patel said. “We’ve held our own for sure despite some adversities and even managed to come out with some crucial wins.”

Patel also noticed the success the team had as a whole, despite consisting of younger players.

“I feel as though we have so much depth on the team now,” Patel said. “We are learning so much about each other still at every practice and that just makes the chemistry on the field grow and ultimately helps us be that much more successful.”

While DeLane works to control his focus, Patel is striving to improve specific parts of her game to aid her team on the field.

“I am working on timing and checking in the proper lanes to move the ball up and down the field more successfully. I’m also working on finishing my chances and being more of a threat in the final third,” Patel said.

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Chico State women's soccer charges onto the field during their first home game of the season. Photo credit: Aubrie Coley

First-year goalkeeper Caitlyn Duval recognized the difficulty of play in the CCAA but was ready to fight during the season to succeed the team’s conference.

“The CCAA is going to be tough, it’s one of the hardest and best conferences in the United States,” Duval said.

The team’s chemistry and preseason success boosted Duval’s confidence in the ‘Cats ability to win against other schools.

“We know there will be challenges throughout the season, but I am confident (…) in overcoming anyone and anything in our path,” Duval said.

Duval is focused on increasing her training regiment to help her team for the CCAA.

“I have been practicing hard, running and lifting at least three times a week, watching game film, eating healthy and making my connections to teammates and coaches on and off the field,” Duval said.

While the women’s soccer team found success early in its season, it might experience difficulty repeating the 8-1-1 league record it held last year.

The team had a preseason record of 4-1-1 last season and held an overall season record of 12-5-2.

Women’s volleyball team

The women’s volleyball team will play East Bay State as its first CCAA opponent. The ‘Cats had an extensive amount of preseason experience, playing in both the Route 92 Showdown and the D2 Western Region Volleyball Showcase. Currently, the team’s record stands at 6-3 so far this season.

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The women's volleyball team lines up before their first home game of the season. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell

Junior outside hitter Olivia Mediano expressed her excitement for the CCAA and highlighted the game against Sonoma State.

“The conference is split up into north and south division, it’s always exciting to play the reigning conference champs, Sonoma State,” Mediano said.

The team’s athleticism and talent on the bench have both seen improvements, according to Mediano.

“We have added a lot more height this year and we have new talent as well as veteran skill,” Mediano said. “This team has a lot of depth so if need be, anyone can come in and do their job on the court.”

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The women's volleyball team huddles together before their game. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell

First-year mid-hitter Alex Boyle expressed her excitement going into her first CCAA series and beginning her college career as a Chico State volleyball player.

“After watching a few games in the previous years and things I have heard from other girls, I think we might have a tough match up against teams such as Sonoma and some of the So Cal teams,” Boyle said. “But I feel like we are all ready to go and excited for the season.”

Although Boyle is new to the team, she noticed new player potential during mentorship from veterans.

“I have heard that we have always had a really strong back row. This year I think we have gained some height and power in the front row and hopefully it will be able to help out our back row and make it a really well-rounded team,” Boyle said.

Both Mediano and Boyle feel confidence in their team. The ‘Cats have a chance to succeed in a better conference record than last year’s 9-11 and an overall record of 17-14.

Cross country team

The Chico State cross country team begins its CCAA league on Oct. 22. The team has already shown dominance in its league by placing first at the Humboldt State Invitational.

Junior Kyle Medina has already set his eyes on competing in the league, by scouting the other schools who rival Chico State.

“The past two to three years have shown that Cal Poly Pomona is a team on the rise and we are aware that there is a target on our backs,” Medina said. “They will give us their best when we race, and we’ll do the same.”

The biggest driving factor for the team in Medina’s eyes is the improvement they’ve made over the preseason.

“The team has improved well since the fall of 2015. Almost all the men that were healthy competed on the track and produced personal bests in races ranging from 800 meters to 10,000 meters. That momentum has definitely carried through the summer and into our fall training,” Medina said.

Chico State men's cross country
The Chico State men's cross country team practices before the Humboldt State Invitational. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell

First-year cross country runner Nora Pizzella was confident in the team coming into the CCAA series.

“The strength and depth of the women’s team … says a lot about what we are capable of doing as we move into the championship season,” Pizzella said.

Pizzella is determined to make a contribution to the team’s chemistry and improve its performance.

“Team chemistry with this team is something that you cannot find anywhere else,” Pizzella said. “We all support and push each other through our workouts and races and I am beyond grateful to be a part of something so special.”

The men’s team is ranked fifth nationally and second in the west. The women’s team is ranked third nationally and first in the west. The success of the first invitational is a possible indicator of its upcoming season. Chico State cross country has a good chance to dominate its season once again.

Chico State women's cross country
The Chico State women's cross country team trains on their own track in preparation of the CCAA. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell

Gabriel Moreno can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabeSports3.

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