What a rollercoaster the DII volleyball top 25 has been in 2018. Cal State San Bernardino recently became the fifth new No. 1 in seven weeks this season. Only Nebraska-Kearney was able to hold on to the spot in consecutive weeks, as Concordia-St. Paul returned to the top spot last week after beginning the season there in the preseason poll.
Got all that?
Last week, CSU San Bernardino matched the program’s highest ranking, previously reaching No. 2 in the 2011 season. Now, the Coyotes have done it again, ascending to the No. 1 spot for the first time in nearly seven years.
MORE: Latest AVCA rankings
So, who are the Coyotes?
Winners of 12 in a row
CSU San Bernardino is on fire of late. Since dropping its only loss of the season way back on August 30 to now-No. 7 Western Washington, the Coyotes have run off 12 consecutive wins. Most impressive was this past week. CSU San Bernardino won all three of its matches in straight sets to improve to 16-1. Two of those 3-0 victories came against nationally-ranked Cal State LA (No. 14) and Cal Poly Pomona (No. 24).
The Coyotes have won the past two California Collegiate Athletic Association titles and are well on their way to capturing a third. Should CSU San Bernardino capture yet another conference title, it will be their third-straight automatic NCAA bid to the postseason and 19th straight trip to the tournament. The Coyotes made it to Pensacola, Florida a season ago before falling to eventual national runner-up Florida Southern in the national quarterfinals.
No. 2 Coyotes Roll Past @AVCAVolleyball No. 16 Cal State LA On The Road | Dominate first two sets and comeback to finish sweep https://t.co/g8HfcHQ5rm 📸 Robert Huskey #10TeamsONEPACK pic.twitter.com/kG5DZc7aGf— CSUSB Coyotes (@csusbathletics) September 29, 2018
Cal State San Bernardino is certainly aggressive in its attack. The Coyotes lead the CCAA in hitting percentage (.276), assists (747), and kills (806). Leading the way is sophomore outside hitter Alexis Cardoza. Not only does Cardoza lead the team (and CCAA) in kills, she leads in service aces with 24. Her 290.5 points are 82 better than the second-most in the CCAA.
Cardoza isn’t alone, however. Senior middle blocker Hailey Jackson leads the conference in hitting percentage at .430 with junior outside hitter Sascha Dominique not far behind in second at .424. Senior setter Jayann DeHoog leads the CCAA in assists by a wide margin averaging 11.96 per set. Simply put, despite the loss of reigning CCAA Player of the Year and All-American Lauren Nicholson to graduation, there is still plenty of ways the Coyotes can beat you.
Kim Cherniss is a winner
Head coach Kim Cherniss took over at CSUSB in 1991. It took her six seasons to get a winning record with the Coyotes but hasn’t had a losing record in the 21 years since. In fact, it hasn’t even been close, as the Coyotes have reeled off 21-straight 20-plus win seasons, reaching the NCAA tournament the past 18 seasons.
Cherniss’ squads have a 45-18 record in the NCAA tournament. That includes three national quarterfinals appearances, two national semifinals, and two national runners-up campaigns in 2008 and 2011, both times losing to Concordia-St. Paul. There’s only one thing missing from the Coyotes’ head coach’s resume. Perhaps now is the time for the newest No. 1 team to keep the magic rolling and capture that elusive national championship.