Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy Cal State San Bernardino Athletics

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - Top-seed Cal State San Bernardino is headed for the NCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship Tournament on Dec. 4-6 after sweeping past No. 3 seed Cal Poly Pomona Saturday night before 889 fans in Coussoulis Arena on the Cal State campus.

The Coyotes will face California (Pa.), the winner of the Atlantic Region in the quarterfinals on Dec. 4 at a site to be determined on Monday.

All-American Jessica Granados paced the Coyotes win with 13 kills, 10 digs and three block assists. Freshman middle blocker Samantha Middleborn had a career night with 10 kills on .364 hitting with two block assists.

Granados was named to the West Regional all-tournament team along with teammates Sara Rice, Sara Hoffman and Meghan Haas. Vanessa Williams, Elizabeth Diaz, Anne-Marie Hofmans and Rafaela Rosa from Cal Poly were also named to the 12-member team.

Joining them on the all-tournament team were Lindsay Macias and Makenzie Snyder of semifinalist Chico State along with Ursula Vieira and Gabriela Bulawczyk of semifinalist Cal State L.A.

The Coyotes captured their third West Region title of the decade 25-18, 25-20 and 25-14 over the Broncos. CSUSB hit .298 as a team while holding the Broncos to .160 hitting.

Hoffman, the Coyotes' all-America setter, had 36 assists while Haas, the senior libero had an acrobatic 16 digs.

The Broncos, ranked No. 10 in Division II in blocks per set, had 17 block assists to 10 for the Coyotes, finishing ahead in that category 8.5 to 5.5.

Cal State was tested in set two as Pomona forged a 13-11 lead on a kill by Williams but the Coyotes never let Pomona get more than three points ahead in the set and took control after the score was tied 18-all.

Rice had back-to-back kills and sophomore Jane Chafeh drove blasted a kill into the floor for a 21-18 advantage.

Pomona got back into it at 21-20, but CSUSB rattled off four straight points to take the set 25-20 on back to back kills by Granados. In the third game, CSUSB pulled away to a 19-13 lead and then Granados served out the set with a kill by Rice off an assist by Hoffman sending the Coyotes into a celebration that included hugging the regional championship trophy.

"San Bernardino played a real strong match tonight," said Cal Poly Pomona coach Rosie Wegrich.

" Haas passes a lot of area and they were in system. Their attacks pressured our counterattacks. Granados just elevated her game. She's a leader who helps make the others believe in themselves. She was very strong tonight," Wegrich said. "Rice just smacked the ball."

Wegrich said on reflection that she was happy with her team's performance this season. "This is the furthest we've been in a regional in 11 years (lost in 1997 final to Cal State Bakersfield). We like to be in `J.J.' mode - get the ball to the tape. We didn't do it tonight because everything happens from serve-receive."

Cal State San Bernardino head coach Kim Cherniss said of her team, "this is a very intelligent group and they were willing to open up to each other and hold each other accountable every step of the way and that's what a coach likes to see in a team."

Granados said the bitter taste left in her mouth after losing in the regional title match at home in 2006 and 2007 is gone. "I never want to feel that way again," she said. "I think the whole team was relaxed tonight. We came in with a good mindset."

Haas said the team's motto this season has been "whatever it takes."

"We decided before the season we wouldn't let anything get in our way. We were going to fight for every point in every match until the score on our side read 25," said the senior captain.